Call it the Saudi $100 million issue.
What would you be willing to do – or ignore – in exchange for a huge payday?
For many of America’s best-known athletes and a former US president, that question has been answered.
Right now, a strange spectacle begins about 50 miles from Ground Zero, where 2,753 people were killed in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
A golf league tournament funded by the government of Saudi Arabia has kicked off at a private club owned by former President Donald Trump.
And as players tee off, the families of the 9/11 victims protest outside the gates.
Trump has given the Saudi LIV Golf league his stamp of approval.
Some of the best golfers in the world have left the PGA Tour and joined LIV Golf – lured by unimaginably large rewards.
Phil Mickelson, an American golf legend, reportedly raises $200 million.
He was the first big name to make the switch, but you don’t have to be as famous as Phil to make money with LIV.
Trump has given Saudi’s LIV Golf league his stamp of approval
There is a strange spectacle that begins about 80 miles from Ground Zero, where 2,753 people were killed in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. (Above) A ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City on September 11, 2021
If you don’t play well in a PGA tournament, you won’t get paid.
In LIV you are paid only for appearing. And if you win, the prizes are astronomical.
First place in the tournament at Trump’s Bedminster brings in $4 million. Come in 48th and you’ll still get $120,000.
I’ve been following the controversy over LIV Golf for a while as many players and media personalities tie themselves in a knot and perform a bizarre media dance.
At every opportunity, anyone who takes a check from Saudi Arabia is pressured to answer a series of difficult questions.
For example: what do they think of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018?
According to a US intelligence report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2021, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation that resulted in Khashoggi being assassinated in a Saudi embassy and dismembered with a gun. bone saw.
Perhaps most pertinently, as the tournament kicks off in New Jersey, what do they think of the growing evidence that individuals associated with the Saudi regime played a role in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks?
This heartbreaking claim is made emphatically by the families of the victims of 9/11, many of whom are represented by 9/11 Families United.
In 2021, the Biden administration released an FBI report that revealed a closer relationship than previously known between two Saudis in particular — including one with diplomatic status — and some of the 9/11 hijackers.
Among other shocking revelations, evidence shows that an aide to the Saudi government, Omar al-Bayoumi, met with some of the hijackers prior to the attacks.
According to a US intelligence report released in 2021 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (above) approved the operation that resulted in Khashoggi being assassinated in a Saudi embassy and dismembered with a bone saw.
(Above) Relatives and survivors of the 9/11 Justice organization speak to the media as they attend a protest against the Saudi Arabia-funded golf series and tournament being held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, USA. July 29, 2022
Today, Omar al-Bayoumi lives in the Kingdom and receives a monthly stipend from the government.
All of this was asked of Trump on Thursday and, in typical Trump fashion, he completely dodged.
He told ESPN, “Unfortunately, no one got to the bottom of 9/11,” ignoring the fact that as president, he had a golden opportunity for four years to do just that.
To translate the Trump spin, he says, “Can’t we all just move on?”
And that is a huge driving force behind this Saudi golf competition.
The message they want to send is: Saudi Arabia can’t be that bad when almost every American golfer, an ex-president and others are on board with their league.
Now it is nothing new that a private US citizen or the US government has a relationship with an unscrupulous foreign nation.
The world is a complicated place. It’s everyone’s choice how they would react if they were given millions of dollars to turn a blind eye to the obvious.
I got that chance once.
Shortly after leaving ABC’s ‘The View’, I was approached as the World Cup representative for Qatar in the lead-up to FIFA’s upcoming 2022 tournament.
The soft offer was a lot of money.
Frankly, I thought about it for a split second.
Qatar is not Saudi Arabia.
But it is a country with laws that openly discriminate against women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
According to Amnesty International, migrant workers are facing horrific labor abuses and freedom of expression and other human rights violations in the run-up to the World Cup in November.
That said — there are some positives about this country in the Middle East and no country is without its problems.
But something wasn’t right with me.
Frankly, I thought of Hunter Biden being offered strange sums of money from controversial countries with a history of human rights violations.
I also consider myself a strong feminist and ally of persecuted communities.
I thought about all the work my parents did in their struggle for global freedom and democracy.
The work they have done to help people wrongfully imprisoned by dictators and evil fascists.
Above all, I believe in freedom.
I felt that eventually taking that job would damage my reputation and jeopardize my ability to advocate for the causes I’m passionate about.
(Plus, I’m also pretty clueless about soccer. To be honest, it’s rare for an American to do that. I follow a little sport called soccer.)
Some of the best golfers in the world have jumped off the PGA Tour and joined LIV Golf – lured by unimaginably big rewards (Above) Dustin Johnson on the 16th tee at the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf invite at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022
In the end it just didn’t feel ethical. It felt like a money grab. So I passed up the opportunity.
I’m not perfect, but I know who I am and what I believe.
Others have made different decisions, and so have the world’s largest countries and companies.
Despite China detaining millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps, the communist regime was tapped to host the 2022 Olympics.
American athletes and Olympians from all over the world attended the Beijing Games (although they didn’t have much choice).
NBC had no problem raking in profits from broadcasting the events.
Nike makes its products in China and the NBA has made lucrative contacts to broadcast their games in China.
In 2018, the PGA itself signed a $45 million 20-year deal with a Chinese sports management company affiliated with the Chinese government.
The whole continent of Europe became addicted to Russian oil and they are now paying the price. But Putin was a brutal dictator long before he invaded Ukraine.
Even President Joe Biden, after vowing to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state for the crown prince’s alleged role in Khashoggi’s assassination, did just the opposite, traveling to Saudi Arabia earlier this month to bump into the alleged murder mastermind. and beg him to sell America more oil.
Like I said, it’s a complicated world and there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around.
But as we watch a former US president tee off at his golf club, surrounded by wealthy US golfers, approving a Saudi reputation-laundering operation, we can’t help but wonder: How will their decisions be remembered?
Will their choices be remembered as a betrayal of American values or simply a new deal made in a long series of compromises?
I don’t know the answer to that.
But I know what I did.
What would you do?
That’s the real $100 million question.