The fact that the WH is willing to release any of the pages is shocking, but let’s just get the whole thing out while we are ahead.
The documents, kept in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol, contain information from the joint congressional inquiry into “specific sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.”
Bob Graham, who was co-chairman of that bipartisan panel, and others say the documents point suspicion at the Saudis. The former Democratic senator from Florida says an administration official told him that intelligence officials will decide in the next several weeks whether to release at least parts of the documents. The disclosure would come at a time of strained U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, a long-time American ally.
Tim Roemer, who was a member of both the joint congressional inquiry as well as the 9/11 Commission and has read the secret chapter three times, described the 28 pages as a “preliminary police report.”
“There were clues. There were allegations. There were witness reports. There was evidence about the hijackers, about people they met with — all kinds of different things that the 9/11 Commission was then tasked with reviewing and investigating,” the former Democratic congressman from Indiana said Friday.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government says it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the attacks, is fighting extremists and working to clamp down on their funding channels. Still, the Saudis have long said that they would declassification of the 28 pages because it would “allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner.”
The pages were withheld from the 838-page report on the orders of President George W. Bush, who said the release could divulge intelligence sources and methods. Still, protecting U.S.-Saudi diplomatic relations also was believed to have been a factor.
Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said Obama asked National Intelligence director James Clapper to review the papers for possible declassification.
“When that’s done we’d expect that there will be some degree of declassification that provides more information,” Rhodes told reporters in Riyadh last week where Obama met with King Salman and other Saudi leaders. The White House says the 28 pages did not come up during discussions.
Neither the congressional inquiry nor the subsequent 9/11 Commission found any evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. But Graham, the relatives of victims and some lawmakers think there is reason to further probe possible Saudi links.