Media largely ignore report that Prince Abdullah delegation member was denied U.S. visa, appeared on U.S. government no-fly list


A member of the delegation of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who met with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on April 25, was denied entry to the United States after the delegation member's name appeared on a national watch list for alleged terrorists, according to reports by The Dallas Morning News and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service. But the issue has received virtually no attention in print and television news coverage since AFP first reported it, and no reporters asked about it during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's press briefing in Crawford or White House press secretary Scott McClellan's press gaggle on Air Force One following the meeting.

AFP first reported on April 25 that one of Prince Abdullah's delegation was denied a visa to visit the United States when the delegation member's name appeared on a government no-fly list:

A member of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's delegation was denied entry into the United States after authorities found he was on a government "watch" list, a US official said Monday.

The US Department of Homeland Security, in a routine check of the delegation passenger manifest, found that one traveller was on a government list meant to screen out possible terrorists, the official said on condition of anonymity.

"This information was shared with our interagency partners, including the State Department," the official said. "My understanding is that the State Department denied that person a visa and so they did not enter the country."

The Dallas Morning News confirmed the AFP story in an April 27 article (registration required), which also reported an administration official saying, "We're not going to discuss the individual because the information is classified."

Host Amy Goodman also mentioned the AFP story on the April 26 broadcast of the syndicated radio program Democracy Now!

But a review of print and television news reports by Media Matters for America indicates that the U.S. media have otherwise overlooked the story. A search of the Nexis news database* reveals no coverage of the incident other than a reference to the AFP story in the Bulletin News Network's Bulletin Frontrunner on April 27. A review of evening news shows on the major television networks found no stories on the subject since it was first reported by AFP.

The incident was also not raised in the April 25 press briefing on Bush's visit with Abdullah by Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, even after Rice noted that Bush and Abdullah had "spent a lot of time on the terrorism issue." Additionally, McClellan did not address the incident in his April 26 press gaggle aboard Air Force One.

* Searches of the terms "Abdullah and list" and "Saudi! and no-fly" over the past week.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
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