Despite an exhaustive effort by two congressional committees which produced a behemoth 832-page report in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, 28 pages allegedly revealing rich Saudi ties to al-Qaeda operatives responsible for the attacks have remained buried and unavailable to the public.
While the main conclusion drawn from the committee’s investigation disclose a systematic failure of the intelligence community to prepare to a then-emerging threat, the redacted section is now the focus of intensive calls from Congress for full disclosure.
The 28-page chapter of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 was determined by the Bush Administration to be too sensitive for public consumption and, if released, would complicate ongoing anti-terror operations.
Members of Congress familiar with the redacted section allegedly revealing Saudi complicity with al-Qaeda members responsible for the attacks are now exhorting Mr. Obama to release the 28-page section.
Through the efforts of Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), the victims’ families may soon earn the right to learn the Inquiry’s deductions on Saudi Arabia’s ostensible ties to the al-Qaeda hijackers.
The White House is weighing the release of the documents.
Commission co-chair, former Florida Senator Bob Graham, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are also demanding Mr. Obama release the section ahead of his late-April trip to the Middle East.
Mr. Graham, a critic of the Bush Administration’s decision to withhold the 28 pages, told CBS’ 60 Minutes:
“I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education– could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States.”
CBS correspondent Steve Kroft then explored the extent of Saudi complicity, asking if it ranged as far as the Saudi royal family, influential families or charities in the Saudi Kingdom, Graham answered: “All of the above.”
Graham, along with inquiry co-chair, retired congressman Porter Goss, both have insisted on the release of the final chapter. Graham has repeated his assertion the Bush Administration was not within its rights to classify the section, owing to the fact the study was the work of Congress and not an intelligence document.
Numerous post-9/11 reports identified Saudi Arabia as the primary source of al-Qaeda funding.
The House of Saud and the government in Riyadh have been exposed as abetting terror groups with both funds and sympathy for decades.
The bone-chilling fact that 15 out of 19 hijackers on September 11 were Saudi is a powerful indictment of the Saudi role in international terrorism.
The relationship between Washington, D.C., and Riyadh is neither an obvious or easy natural alliance. Although this particular chapter remains out of reach to the public, it is a well-known fact the Saudi government has intimate ties to terror groups.
That the final 28 pages remain classified is understandable; however, the conditions under which anti-terror efforts in 2003 were conducted have vastly changed and now is a suitable moment for full disclosure.
Release these 28 pages for families of victims.
[gpo.gov] [The Independent] [Photo courtesy ABC News]