6.30.2004

Fahrenheit Fact no. 17: 75-80% of "$1.4 billion" Saudi connection false

Newsweek writes:
June 30 - In his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” film-maker Michael Moore makes the eye-popping claim that Saudi Arabian interests “have given” $1.4 billion to firms connected to the family and friends of President George W. Bush. This, Moore suggests, helps explain one of the principal themes of the film: that the Bush White House has shown remarkable solicitude to the Saudi royals, even to the point of compromising the war on terror. When you and your associates get money like that, Moore says at one point in the movie, “who you gonna like? Who’s your Daddy?”
More even uses the number $1.4 billion:
Is it rude to suggest that when the Bush family wakes up in the morning they might be thinking about what's best for the Saudis instead of what's best for you? Or me? 'Cuz $1.4 billion doesn't just buy a lot of flights out of the country, it buys a lot of love.
But Newsweek kindly informs us:
Moore derives the $1.4 billion figure from journalist Craig Unger’s book, “House of Bush, House of Saud.” Nearly 90 percent of that amount, $1.18 billion, comes from just one source: contracts in the early to mid-1990’s that the Saudi Arabian government awarded to a U.S. defense contractor, BDM, for training the country’s military and National Guard. What’s the significance of BDM? The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, the powerhouse private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board has included the president’s father, George H.W. Bush...Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm...“The figure is inaccurate and misleading,” said Ullman. “The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM.”
(all emphasis mine) So Moore ends up being $1.18 billion off- %75-80 of his Bush/Saudi connection is verifiably untrue. -a_sdf