The episode has been retold so many times in the last three and a half years that it has become the stuff of political legend: in the frenzied days after Sept. 11, 2001, when some flights were still grounded, dozens of well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, managed to leave the United States on specially chartered flights.
Now, newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure.
The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.
The key for me line in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 movie was: Imagine how the press and conservatives would react if, after the Oklahoma City bombing, we learned that Bill Clinton had helped get Timothy McVeigh’s family out of the country.