Saudi Arabia is gearing up for a lobbying salvo in the U.S. and in September hired two lobbying giants — Glover Park Group and Squire Patton Boggs — to represent the government of that Arabian Peninsula nation on Capitol Hill.
The pacts come soon after the passage of a Congressional bill titled the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” which amends the federal judicial code to allow the families of terrorist attack victims to sue foreign governments. That bill was introduced in May in the Senate and sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John Cornyn (R-TX). A House bill appeared in September. The bill was passed by Congress on September 9.
A majority of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks — 15 of them — were Saudi citizens. A 28-page declassified 9/11 report released in July by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee (which was originally redacted from the original 9/11 Commission Report prepared by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States and released in 2004) suggested possible ties between some of the 9/11 hijackers and Saudi officials.
The report read: ”According to various FBI documents and CIA memorandum, some of the September 11 hijackers, while in the United States, apparently had contacts with individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government.” The report also noted that “it should be clear that this Joint Inquiry has made no final determination as to the reliability or sufficiency of the information” regarding those alleged contacts.
President Obama vetoed JASTA on September 23. In a three-page message to Congress regarding his decision, Obama said the bill “undermines core U.S. interests,” and “would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”
Congress is currently attempting to override the President’s veto.
According to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents filed on September 20, Squire Patton Boggs has been hired by the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh to advise it “in connection with legal and strategic policy advice and advocacy on foreign and related issues in the U.S. government.”
Squire Patton Boggs is charging Saudi Arabia $100,000 per month for the work. Representation was effective beginning September 19. The pact was signed by global managing partner Ed Newberry, who will be joined by former Senator and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS); former Senator John Breaux, (D-LA); and Jack Deschauer, former director of Senate affairs for the Department of Defense and a veteran of Qorvis/MSL and Levick Strategic Communications.
Glover Park Group has been hired by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to “provide communications and government relations counsel and support" to Saudi Arabia "in connection with general foreign policy and related matters, as well as legislative, public policy and media-related activities of interest.”
That agreement, also filed September 20, was signed by Glover Park managing director Joel Johnson, who is former senior advisor for policy and communication to President Clinton and chief legislative and communications advisor to former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD).
Glover Park is owned by British ad/PR conglomerate WPP.
Saudi Arabia in 2002 hired Patton Boggs through D.C. firm Qorvis/MSL (then Qorvis Communications) amid widespread U.S. accusations that the country was partially responsible the 2001 terrorist attacks. Qorvis/MSL has remained Saudi Arabia’s go-to PR counsel ever since, and was still doing work for the nation last year. Publicis Groupe acquired Qorvis in 2014.