Has Dodi's Dad Gone off the Deep End?

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The British have a saying: "If you're poor, you're a lunatic; if you're rich, you're an eccentric." Mohamed Al Fayed, father of Dodi Al Fayed, Princess Diana's doomed suitor, is jaw-droppingly wealthy.

Make no mistake about it — this is a man who is living in a very strange place. Case in point: On Wednesday, Al Fayed announced, via pre-recorded videotape, his plans to sue the CIA (as well as other, as yet unnamed, federal agencies) for access to information about Dodi and Diana's death. It's this missing intelligence, you see, that will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the high-profile lovers were murdered — not, as many of us less rich people have come to accept, killed in a drunk-driving accident.

It's not just the accusations that make Al Fayed, who owns Harrod's luxury department store as well as the Paris Ritz, sound like he's ready to start inviting daffodils to tea. It's his expectations: Apparently, he wants to see top-secret documents produced by the National Security Agency — documents that have been viewed by approximately three sets of exhaustively vetted, high-level human eyes. It's not hard to imagine the scene at the NSA today: The tape on a loop, agents doubled over in hysterical laughter, tears rolling down their faces as they pause during their usual Thursday afternoon activity of burning their fingerprints off with mini blow-torches. The Freedom of Information Act, which covers all federal agencies, is unlikely to be much help to Al Fayed: It provides ample restrictions on the release of NSA-related documents.

It seems that Al Fayed has convinced himself that some dastardly conspiracy between the American and British intelligence agencies was the real culprit behind Dodi and Diana's death three years ago. Of course, all this may be motivated, at least in part, by defensiveness: It has escaped no one, least of all Al Fayed himself, that Henri Paul, an Al Fayed employee, was driving with a blood-alcohol level far above the limit when the crash took place. Legally, Al Fayed could be held responsible for the death, although as of yet no one has leveled that kind of accusation. But the possibility lingers on, and it must haunt Al Fayed on a regular basis.

So, instead of accepting the tragedy for what it was, Al Fayed is determined to hurl ill-founded aspersions across the Atlantic — hoping, perhaps, that the Americans will find him more sympathetic than his British neighbors have.

And frankly, he shouldn't hold his breath. The only person on this side of the pond who's likely to extend a helping hand is Oliver Stone — and I understand that even he is quite busy with his latest project, tentatively titled "Where Do All Those Wishing Well Pennies Go, Anyway? How Your Dreams Become CIA Dollars."