Published time: February 17, 2015 01:41
Edited time: February 17, 2015 04:16
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pressuring the White House to declassify 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that have been rumored to detail an investigation into alleged ties between Saudi Arabia and Al-Qaeda.
These pages have been classified since the original report was released during the presidency of George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama has so far declined to declassify them. While it’s unclear exactly what the contents of the documents are, several current and former lawmakers who have read the pages say they illustrate links between the Saudi government and some of the terrorists responsible for attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon back in 2001.
Although the bill urging President Obama to release the 28 pages – known as House Resolution 14 – was introduced in January after a failed attempt to pass it in 2013, recently released testimony from convicted Al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui has breathed new life into calls for declassification. In early February, Moussaoui said several members of the Saudi royal family, including three princes, donated money directly to Al-Qaeda.
Questions about the legitimacy of Moussaoui’s testimony persist, but lawmakers are nonetheless calling on President Obama to release what many people believe is the 9/11 Commission’s findings on the alleged links. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the author of the bill, framed the issue as one of transparency.
“You cannot have trust in your government when your government hides information from you, particularly on something horrific like 9/11,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) to The Hill on Friday.
According to Congress.gov, Jones’ bill has 13 co-sponsors, including 8 Democrats.
— Rep. Walter Jones (@RepWalterJones) January 8, 2015
Adding pressure on the White House is the fact that former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee as the 9/11 report was drafted, recently said the remaining 28 pages “point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier” of the 9/11 attacks, according to the New York Times.
In 2012, meanwhile, Graham said he was “convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia.” The comment was given as a sworn statement as part of a lawsuit against the Saudi government, which was filed by families of 9/11 victims.
President Obama has also reportedly told families of victims of the 9/11 attacks that he supported declassifying the redacted pages. At a February 5 press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the intelligence community is still reviewing the documents for any potential declassification.
“The administration, in response to a specific congressional request, last year asked the intelligence community to conduct a classification review of that material,” he said. “And we did so in keeping with the standard procedure for determining whether or not it’s appropriate to release classified material.”
— Victor Lasa (@victorlasa) February 17, 2015
Not everyone is convinced the 28 redacted pages are all that interesting. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-C.A.) of the House Intelligence Committee told The Hill that allegations against Saudi Arabia are “unsubstantiated,” but did not dismiss outright the possibility that the section would be made public.
“I have read the 28 pages and the issues raised in those pages were investigated by the 9/11 Commission and found to be unsubstantiated,” he said.
“I believe that at appropriate time in the near future they should be declassified – with any redactions necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods – as this would help demystify the issues raised.”
For its part, Saudi Arabia said back in 2003 that it supports the release of the documents, saying “the idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even knew about September 11th is malicious and blatantly false.”
“Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”