June 18, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Congress: Saudi Arabia: Terrorism: Hardball: Chris Shays discuses Saudi Arabia and the War on Terrorism on Hardball

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Special Report: Former Congressman Chris Shays: RPCV Congressman Chris Shays: Archived Stories: June 18, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Congress: Saudi Arabia: Terrorism: Hardball: Chris Shays discuses Saudi Arabia and the War on Terrorism on Hardball

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Chris Shays discuses Saudi Arabia and the War on Terrorism on Hardball

Chris Shays discuses Saudi Arabia and the War on Terrorism on Hardball

Chris Shays discuses Saudi Arabia and the War on Terrorism on Hardball

WILLIAMS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Congressman Chris Shays is a Connecticut Republican and member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security. Congressman Shays, what do today‘s events tell you? Are we demanding enough of the Saudis?

REP. CHRIS SHAYS ®, CONNECTICUT: Oh, I don‘t know if we‘re demanding enough. But it does tell me this, that the Saudi royal family is reaping what they sowed. They have allowed for years people to have contempt for Western ways and to condone things that are simply unacceptable. And now we see the fruit of their labor.

WILLIAMS: The former Ambassador Wyche Fowler said here just yesterday that he concedes that‘s the truth, but he says that they have turned the corner. Do you agree? Are they just way behind the curve? Or do they need to really step on the gas on that?

SHAYS: Well, they have a long way to go. They have educated generations of Saudi citizens to have contempt for Western lifestyles and the Western world. In spite of the fact that the royal family and so many wealthy Saudi citizens come here and enjoy the fruits of this country. So it‘s something that I think they understand now, and the question is, how hard are they going to work to overcome it?

WILLIAMS: And I guess another question is what should we be doing to persuade them? Are you satisfied that we are doing enough to persuade them to do more?

SHAYS: Oh, I think we are doing enough. The problem is they dug a ditch so deep, it is hard to climb out of it. I mean, this has been going on for generations. And it‘s very frightening. I mean, it is amazing to think what is happening to Westerners, particularly Americans, in a place like Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general.

WILLIAMS: People commit horrible crimes here in the United States, too, but that doesn‘t mean that other Americans condone it. What is your sense, though? Do you think that there is more general support for this kind of crime among the so-called Arabs on the street in Saudi Arabia?

SHAYS: Well, let me put it this way. When we do terrible things, our citizens become outraged. And it would be, I think, encouraging to see some outrage on the part of everyday Saudi citizens. And if it is happening, we‘re not seeing it.

WILLIAMS: Is—on the question of the broader war on terror, does this change the equation at all? Is there anything we should now do differently?

SHAYS: Oh, I think that we just have to wake up to the fact. And this has been true for decades and decades. We‘ve been asleep to the terrorist threat. And we‘ve finally woken up. But we have a long way to go. I mean, there was contempt in the Middle East for the United States because they didn‘t think we had the moral fortitude to stick up for what we believe. They thought we were so decadent. I mean, there appears to have been debates within Osama bin Laden‘s group, pretty convinced that we wouldn‘t retaliate when they did what they did to the Twin Towers. That‘s kind of remarkable, isn‘t it?

WILLIAMS: Many American companies are now no doubt rethinking their policies about sending Americans to Saudi Arabia. This is the third American now killed in 10 days. What would be your recommendation to them?

SHAYS: Oh, well, they need us and we need them. They‘re two-thirds of the world‘s oil, two-thirds of what turns on our lights and what powers our machines and what gets our computers working. I mean, this is—we can say it‘s about oil, or we can say it‘s about the blood that makes the economy move. So this is a very important part of the world. And we need to be there, and we‘ll just need to make sure that our people are protected.

But it does make me want to say something about contractors. Whether they‘re contractors in Iraq or whether they‘re contractors in Saudi Arabia, anywhere in the Middle East.

These are brave people. These are people that know they are in danger, but they believe in what they‘re doing.

WILLIAMS: And I guess one question that their families will have is, is our government doing enough to protect them wherever they go? Is there only so much we can do in Saudi Arabia?

SHAYS: Well, regretfully there‘s very little we can do in Saudi Arabia. I mean, we have tried to get the Saudis to wake up to this terrorist threat and what was happening for years. So I do think they‘ve woken up. But waking up doesn‘t constitute turning a corner.

WILLIAMS: Congressman Shays, let me ask you about one other issue that‘s come in the news this week, and that is Iraq oil for food scandal. I know you‘ve been asking that this be investigated carefully. Are you satisfied at the progress of the investigation? Is it a serious one?

SHAYS: Well, first off, we‘re investigating. You have the International Relations Committee in the House. You have my Government Reform Committee, of which I‘m chairman. We have had hearings as well. We are pursuing it every waking day. What I think is extraordinary is that this story broke because of the free press in Iraq and the Iraqi Governing Council that leaked this information out; 200 names, many of them prominent people around the world and in the U.N.

I had a call from Kofi Annan. I had a call, obviously, from our ambassador saying they‘re treating it seriously. And we are going to be pushing the U.N., and we‘re working closely with the International Relations Committee.

We are not going to let this thing die. We‘re going to go full speed ahead.

WILLIAMS: All right. Congressman Shays, Congressman Chris Shays, thank you very much.

SHAYS: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: When we come back, the officer who oversaw interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison testified that he was under, quote, “intense pressure” to get information out of the prisoners, but how high up the chain of command did that pressure go? “USA Today‘s” Tom Squitieri and John Fund of “The Wall Street Journal” will be here when HARDBALL returns.

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Story Source: Hardball

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