This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", June 21, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIAN WILSON, GUEST-HOST: Well, is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (search) doing enough to fight terrorism? The question is being raised again amid reports and allegations that Al Qaeda (search) loyalists may have infiltrated various levels of the Saudi government. And what would happen if terrorists are successful in disrupting the kingdom's oil industry? Topics we'll explore with former CIA intelligence officer Peter Brooks, now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
You're very concerned about the vulnerability of the Saudi oil industry. That's the thing that just kind of makes you wake up at night in a cold sweat.
PETER BROOKS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think that, yes, you're right. Saudi is the -- Saudi Arabia is the largest producer of oil in the world. Which means it primes the American economic engine, the Japanese economic engine and the European economic engine. They're the only country with excess to capacity. Which means everybody is running flat out on pumping oil, the Saudis are the only ones that can increase it. If they go under, we have got real problems.
WILSON: We can't really depend on the Iraqi oil supply with any regularity just yet?
BROOKS: No, not at all. In fact we had the sabotage...
WILSON: So it's all the Saudis can bail us out if anybody gets in trouble.
BROOKS: Right. We're getting about 15 percent of our oil from Saudi Arabia, the United States is now, but they still are the world's largest producer. The Iraqis, which have the second largest reserves, are not ready for primetime yet.
WILSON: OK. So, if somebody were able to disrupt the flow of oil inside Saudi Arabia so that not a lot of oil was getting out, that would basically just shut down the world economy, wouldn't it?
BROOKS: I don't know if it would completely shut it down, but it would...
WILSON: It would certainly hamper it wouldn't it?
BROOKS: ...be like the 1970s with gas lines and recessions and things along that line, because we don't have that many source of energy right now. And that's something we need to work about it. For instance, the Abqaiq refining facility processes two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's crude. OK? If you were able to take down that refinery, you would have a major problem.
WILSON: And so are you concerned that various levels of oil industry inside Saudi Arabia have been infiltrated with people, who either are sympathetic or loyal to Al Qaeda?
BROOKS: Yes, I am worried about that. I'm worried about the security services. I'm worried about sympathizers within the oil industry that could tell the terrorists where exactly they need to make a strike to shut things down. You've got to know exactly when one of these -- you have seen one of these big oil industry factories' refineries. You have got to know where you got to place a bomb, or airliner, or something else to should it down.
WILSON: Well, it's like anything else, there are like choke points in machinery like that.
BROOKS: That's right.
WILSON: And if you hit the right spot...
BROOKS: Points of failure that you need to locate. And you need somebody probably in engineering on the inside to tell you that.
WILSON: Now, blowing up a pipeline, that's an easy fix.
BROOKS: Right. Saudi Arabia has 10,005 miles -- 500 miles of pipeline, that's a lot. But we saw what happened in Iraq. A couple of explosions shut down the southern oil facility, and we were not able to pump for several days. Looks like we're starting to have some sort of recovery, but it can take some time.
WILSON: But several days is not as big a crisis as shutting down the larger facilities.
BROOKS: Yes. Right. Exactly. Ten days would -- there'd probably enough that it may not affect the market. The economists can tell you better, but it's something we need to be concerned about.
WILSON: We had Adel al Jubeir, as you saw in Steve Centanni's report there, saying that he did not think the security forces of Saudi Arabia had been infiltrated by people, who were either loyal or at least have leanings towards -- sympathetic leanings toward al Qaeda. You don't have that same feeling?
BROOKS: No. I think there probably are sympathizers. We find this a lot of countries. We found it in Pakistan; we found it in Indonesia, where we have large Muslim population. There are people sympathetic to Al Qaeda and its objectives.
Saudi Arabia not only needs to look outside of the government, like they're doing now for terrorists. They need to look inside for sympathizers as well in the security apparatus, in their military intelligence apparatus, and also in the oil industry.
WILSON: But now, the Saudi royal family has got a difficult job there; because if you start rooting too deep, you irritate some of their big supporters within the Wahabi religion.
BROOKS: Well, what's the other alternative, Brian? The other alternative is that you can be put the regime on the ropes. I mean they need to they need to open up. They need to make changes. They need to make reforms in an incremental manner. But where they are right now, they're very vulnerable.
WILSON: Well, is the House of Saud in trouble?
BROOKS: Potentially. Potentially. Depends what Al Qaeda does next. They've started with bombing housing complexes. Then they went after the security establishment. Now they're going after particular foreigners to get them to leave. There are nine million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia.
About a couple of thousand of them are British -- mostly British and American are helping with the -- are running the oil industry. Next, it could be direct attacks on the oil infrastructure.
WILSON: Well, what do we in the United States need to be doing?
BROOKS: Well, we need the international community as well. We need to -- first of all, we need to continue to press the Saudis, like Steve Centanni was talking about in his report. Press the Saudis to really take a hard look at what's going on inside their country. Not only within the government, but within the country itself. We need to -- we also need them to start to look at reforms. We also need to make sure that the international community starts to diversify its energy resources.
WILSON: Anything bother you about this Paul Johnson case, where they seem to be able to find the terrorists just shortly after apparently the beheading?
BROOKS: Yes. We don't know everything we know about that. It may have been a tip or something...
WILSON: We still don't have a body.
BROOKS: Yes. We still don't have a body. And we'll probably find things out. But yes, it looks very suspicious at first blush.
WILSON: When you hear somebody say we have a body and then immediately say, no, we don't have a body, what went through your mind?
BROOKS: Well, I mean at first I thought that's the reason they caught them so quickly is because they found them getting rid of the body. But now that there's no body, I'm kind of curious as to why they came upon them so quickly afterwards. And that's what really concerns me.
WILSON: Well, but the president considers the Saudis our strongest allies. Should we?
BROOKS: Well, I wouldn't say that they're our strongest ally...
WILSON: Some of them say in that region.
BROOKS: OK. Well, yes. They have been, but of course, they have to support our interests in that part of the world. If they're not supporting our interests, then they aren't really our strongest supporters in that part of the world.
WILSON: Peter Brooks, thank you so much.
BROOKS: Thank you, Brian.
WILSON: It's always good to have you here. We appreciate it.
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