Saudi Arabian King's sudden thought while meeting White House official

If the movement of horses and falcons could be tracked by tagging them with an electronic chip ‘to be tracked with Bluetooth,' why couldn't the same method be used to track Guantanamo Bay detainees, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah reportedly asked a senior American counter-terror official. To which the official wisecracked: “horses don't have good lawyers,” and then pointed out that such a move could face legal hurdles in America.

The exchange, reported in a cable dated March 22, 2009 from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh (198178: secret), accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks, took place during a meeting the King had with the visiting White House counter-terror adviser, John Brennan, in Riyadh on March 15, 2009. The cable was classified by Political Counselor Lisa Carle and copied, among other places, to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

In the midst of a discussion on terrorism, the King suddenly announced, “I've just thought of something.” He “proposed implanting the [Guantanamo Bay] detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. Brennan replied, ‘horses don't have good lawyers,' and that such a proposal would face legal hurdles in the U.S., but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.”

‘I miss my horses'

Later, King Abdullah spoke wistfully about missing his horses. As the Riyadh Embassy cable relates it, “The King appeared alert and at times animated … throwing up his hands in complaint when asked if he spent time with his horses: ‘I see them on television when they race,' he said. ‘I love horses,' he exclaimed, ‘every couple of weeks I get to see them, and then I have a very calm and restful sleep'.”

It was at the same meeting that the King made his widely reported and controversial remarks about Iran, accusing it of “meddling in Arab matters” and recalling a “heated exchange” with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. When Mr. Mottaki invited him to visit Iran, the response was: “All I want is for you to spare us your evil.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via WikiLeaks.)