Twenty-eight classified pages from the famous 9/11 Commission Report on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, could be made public by June, according to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence.
An April 25 report from VOA quoted Clapper’s remarks made at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. “I think that is certainly a realistic goal from where we stand with that,” said Clapper who is responsible for overseeing the redacted pages’ potential declassification. “We are in the position of trying to coordinate interagency position on the declassification of the 28 pages,” the director and retired Air Force lieutenant general added.
VOA noted that only a select group of U.S. officials have read the classified report, which has been locked in a secure area of the U.S. Capitol building since a joint congressional committee compiled it in 2002. Bills have been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives calling for the declassification of the report’s redacted pages.
One of the most outspoken voices calling for a release of the classified pages has been former Democrat Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham, who said Sunday during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press that the pages should be released to end the continued debate over what they contain and to allow the American public to make up its own mind about the significance of their contents.
VOA summarized Graham’s contention that the question of whether the 19 hijackers — 15 of whom were Saudi citizens — had received any outside help is the most important outstanding question related to the September 11, 2001, attacks. “I think it's implausible to think that people who couldn’t speak English, had never been in the United States before, as a group were not well-educated, could have done that,” Graham said on Meet the Press. “So who was the most likely entity to have provided them that support? And I think that all of the evidence points to Saudi Arabia.”
Graham has been making his point on other TV talk shows, including a CBS News 60 Minutes program that aired on April 10 called “28 Pages.”
As we wrote in our April 15 report about that program, 60 Minutes noted that Graham has been trying to get those 28 censored pages released since they were classified back in 2003, during a time when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the bipartisan joint congressional inquiry into intelligence failures surrounding the attacks.
We also cited a CBS News report that the joint inquiry had reviewed a half a million documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and produced an 838-page report, the final chapter of which was blanked out — redacted by the Bush administration for reasons of “national security.”
Graham told CBS correspondent Bob Kroft during the April 10 60 Minutes program: “I remain deeply disturbed by the amount of material that has been censored from this report.”
CBS reported that while Graham will not discuss the classified information in the 28 pages, he could say that they outline a network of people who he believes supported the hijackers while they were in the United States.
Prompted by Kroft’s questions, Graham said the Saudi support for the hijackers came from multiple sources, including the government, wealthy people, and charities.
Another guest on that program, Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and U.S. ambassador to India, had read the 28 pages multiple times — first as a member of the joint inquiry and later as a member of the blue-ribbon 9/11 Commission that continued the investigation where Congress left off.
When Kroft asked Roemer if there was information in the 28 pages that would surprise people if they were declassified, the former congressman said, in part:
Sure, you’re gonna be surprised by it. And, you’re going to be surprised by some of the answers that are sitting there today in the 9/11 Commission Report about what happened in San Diego, and what happened in Los Angeles. And what was the Saudi involvement.
Roemer's focus on Southern California relates to the presence there of two of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who arrived in Los Angeles in January of 2000, after attending an al-Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. During their time there, the two men met with another Saudi national, Omar al-Bayoumi, who was on the payroll of the Saudi government.
When Kroft asked Graham if he believed that Bayoumi was a Saudi agent, and if so, why, the former senator said, “Well, for one thing, he’d been listed even before 9/11 in FBI files as being a Saudi agent.”
An April 25 AP report quoted Roemer’s recent statement, in which he described the classified 28 pages as a “preliminary police report.” The former congressman said Friday:
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.
While the Saudi government has claimed it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the attacks, the Saudis have nevertheless said that they would welcome declassification of the 28 pages because it would “allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner.”
A bill currently pending in the House, H. Res. 14, sponsored by Representative Walter Jones (R-N.C.), urges “the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.” It specifically refers to the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001 that were ordered classified by President George W. Bush. The bill urges President Obama to declassify those 28 pages, noting, “The families of the victims and the people of the United States deserve answers about the events and circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001, attacks.”
Representatives Jones, Stephen Lynch, (D-Mass.), and Thomas Massie, (R-Ky.), wrote to President Obama last week saying they don’t think releasing the classified portion of the report will harm national security and might provide closure for the 9/11 victims’ families.