Bush On Saudi Rape Case: I ‘Don’t Remember’ If I Brought It Up With King Abdullah

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"Bush On Saudi Rape Case: I ‘Don’t Remember’ If I Brought It Up With King Abdullah"

This morning, CNN’s Ed Henry pointedly asked President Bush why he hasn’t used his “influence” to “do something” about the 19-year old Saudi woman who was the victim of a brutal gang rape and later sentenced to 200 lashes. The Saudi court blamed her for being an “adulteress who invited the attack.”

Bush refused to answer Henry’s question, simply stating that King Abdullah “knows our position loud and clear.” He said he recently spoke to King Abdullah “about the Middle Eastern peace,” but isn’t sure if he mentioned the Saudi case. “I don’t remember if that subject came up.”

When asked what went through his mind when he first heard about the case, Bush brushed aside his role as head of state, instead saying he would have been “very emotional” if it had happened to his daughter.

BUSH: My first thoughts were these.

What happens if this happened to my daughter? How would I react?

And I would have been — I would have been — I’d had — I would have been very emotional, of course.

I’d have been angry at those who committed the crime. And I would be angry at the state that didn’t support the victim.

And our opinions were expressed by Dana Perino from the pulpit — from the podium.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/12/bushsaudiedcnn.320.240.flv]

Despite the President’s strident rhetoric supporting global human rights, the administration has so far refused to condemn the Saudi government and push it to lift the sentence. When asked about the case last month, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said only that the situation is “very discouraging and outrageous. There is an appeals process and we hope that the verdict changes.” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that the administration was “astonished,” but had “nothing else to offer.”

Looks like human rights aren’t as important as old “family friends.”

Transcript:

QUESTION: On another issue of credibility in the Mideast, at the Annapolis summit, you used your influence to get Saudi Arabia to the table. But I wonder whether now you will use your influence to do something about the Saudi rape case that’s gotten so much international attention.

What goes through your mind when you hear about a 19-year-old Saudi woman get gang-raped by seven men and basically a Saudi court blames the victim and sentenced her to 200 lashes?

You spoke to King Abdullah by telephone in the last couple of weeks. Did you press him on this case? If so, what did you say? And if not, are you giving him a pass?

BUSH: My first thoughts were these.

What happens if this happened to my daughter? How would I react?

And I would have been — I would have been — I’d had — I would have been very emotional, of course.

I’d have been angry at those who committed the crime. And I would be angry at the state that didn’t support the victim.

And our opinions were expressed by Dana Perino from the pulpit — from the podium. And…

QUESTION: Did you press King Abdullah about it personally?

BUSH: I talked to King Abdullah about the Middle Eastern peace. I don’t remember if that subject came up.

QUESTION: But if it’s that important to you, why wouldn’t you bring it — at that level, bring it directly up to King Abdullah?

BUSH: (inaudible) plenty of time. He knows our position loud and clear.

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