To regular readers of this blog, yesterday's admission from Treasury undersecretary Stuart A. Levey wasn't exactly earth-shattering news. The reason it is hugely noteworthy on a global scale is the source: a fairly high-ranking Bush administration official. Is the Bush administration finally ready to throw America's most questionable ally under the bus after years of coziness and false promises? Stay tuned:
Saudi Arabia remains the world's leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration's top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.
Stuart A. Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told a Senate committee that the Saudi government had not taken important steps to go after those who finance terrorist organizations or to prevent wealthy donors from bankrolling extremism through charitable contributions, sometimes unwittingly.
"Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world," Levey said under questioning.
U.S. officials have previously identified Saudi Arabia as a major source of funding for extremism. But Levey's comments were notable because, although reluctant to directly criticize a close U.S. ally, he acknowledged frustration with administration efforts to persuade the Saudis and others to act.
"We continue to face significant challenges as we move forward with these efforts, including fostering and maintaining the political will among other governments to take effective and consistent action," Levey said, later adding: "Our work is not nearly complete."
Indeed. Read it all.