New push to release 9/11 classified docs showing Saudi involvement

A controversy about 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 report  that has been simmering for years is coming to the fore again as President Obama prepares to visit Saudi Arabia.

At issue is a classified section of the report that it has long been believed details involvement by the Saudi Arabian government in the attack on America on September 11, 2001.  President Obama has promised 9/11 families twice that he would declassify the documents but has failed to follow through.

What could be in those documents that could be so explosive?

Daily Beast:

Former Florida senator Bob Graham chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chaired the joint congressional committee that looked into the attacks. He told 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, “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.”

An exchange between Kroft and Graham goes to the heart of the dispute. “You believe that support came from Saudi Arabia?” Kroft asks. “Substantially,” Graham replies. “And when we say, ‘The Saudis,’ you mean the government…rich people in the country? Charities?”

“All of the above,” Graham replies.

It has long been the Saudi position that support for the hijackers did not come from the government, and the congressional report contained a line that seemed to exonerate the government. “It’s not an exoneration,” says former senator Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 Commission who has filed an affidavit in support of a lawsuit brought by the 9/11 families seeking redress from the Saudi government for the loss of their loved ones.

The families don’t want another 9/11 anniversary to pass without fully understanding the complicity that led to the attacks. By turning its media megaphone on the impasse, 60 Minutes showed viewers the extraordinary range of high profile former officials on both sides of the political aisle who wish to see this matter resolved. Porter Goss, who co-chaired the congressional inquiry with Graham and then became CIA director under President Bush, recounted asking then FBI Director Robert Mueller why the 28 pages were classified and basically being told, “Because we said so.”

Withholding them during the Bush years made a certain amount of sense because the attacks were still so fresh, and the Bush family had long-standing close ties with the Saudi royal family. Making those pages public would be embarrassing. Obama has more freedom to make a decision based on national security considerations, but he may bereluctant to strain U.S. ties with the kingdom further.

Who might be implicated if the documents are released?  It has long been thought that some high-ranking royals in the kingdom participated in the plot.  There is also speculation that a faction in Saudi intelligence played a role in the attack.  The Saudi leadership may see a strategic advantage in maintaining a close relationship with the U.S., but there are many elements of Saudi society who view the U.S. as a puppetmaster pulling the strings of the king and his advisers.  It is easy to imagine them participating in the plot, given Osama bin Laden's ties to the kingdom.

The fact that President Obama has so far refused to release the material suggests that there is genuine fear in the intellgience community that the revelations would so severely rock the foundations of the royal family that it could topple the monarchy.  While the Saudis present a stable, peaceful face to the world, underneath that façade is a myriad of players jockeying for power, destabilizing the regime.

This is exactly what the Wahhabi clerics desire.  They wish to establish an even more restrictive Sunni theocracy along the lines of Iran's Shia government.  There may be lower-ranking royals willing to help them achieve that.  Nothing would please them more than to see those documents released, which is one possible reason why both Bush and Obama have be reluctant to declassify the material.

Whatever those documents contain, a good case can be made that they should be released, and let the chips fall where they may in Saudi Arabia.

A controversy about 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 report  that has been simmering for years is coming to the fore again as President Obama prepares to visit Saudi Arabia.

At issue is a classified section of the report that it has long been believed details involvement by the Saudi Arabian government in the attack on America on September 11, 2001.  President Obama has promised 9/11 families twice that he would declassify the documents but has failed to follow through.

What could be in those documents that could be so explosive?

Daily Beast:

Former Florida senator Bob Graham chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chaired the joint congressional committee that looked into the attacks. He told 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, “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.”

An exchange between Kroft and Graham goes to the heart of the dispute. “You believe that support came from Saudi Arabia?” Kroft asks. “Substantially,” Graham replies. “And when we say, ‘The Saudis,’ you mean the government…rich people in the country? Charities?”

“All of the above,” Graham replies.

It has long been the Saudi position that support for the hijackers did not come from the government, and the congressional report contained a line that seemed to exonerate the government. “It’s not an exoneration,” says former senator Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 Commission who has filed an affidavit in support of a lawsuit brought by the 9/11 families seeking redress from the Saudi government for the loss of their loved ones.

The families don’t want another 9/11 anniversary to pass without fully understanding the complicity that led to the attacks. By turning its media megaphone on the impasse, 60 Minutes showed viewers the extraordinary range of high profile former officials on both sides of the political aisle who wish to see this matter resolved. Porter Goss, who co-chaired the congressional inquiry with Graham and then became CIA director under President Bush, recounted asking then FBI Director Robert Mueller why the 28 pages were classified and basically being told, “Because we said so.”

Withholding them during the Bush years made a certain amount of sense because the attacks were still so fresh, and the Bush family had long-standing close ties with the Saudi royal family. Making those pages public would be embarrassing. Obama has more freedom to make a decision based on national security considerations, but he may bereluctant to strain U.S. ties with the kingdom further.

Who might be implicated if the documents are released?  It has long been thought that some high-ranking royals in the kingdom participated in the plot.  There is also speculation that a faction in Saudi intelligence played a role in the attack.  The Saudi leadership may see a strategic advantage in maintaining a close relationship with the U.S., but there are many elements of Saudi society who view the U.S. as a puppetmaster pulling the strings of the king and his advisers.  It is easy to imagine them participating in the plot, given Osama bin Laden's ties to the kingdom.

The fact that President Obama has so far refused to release the material suggests that there is genuine fear in the intellgience community that the revelations would so severely rock the foundations of the royal family that it could topple the monarchy.  While the Saudis present a stable, peaceful face to the world, underneath that façade is a myriad of players jockeying for power, destabilizing the regime.

This is exactly what the Wahhabi clerics desire.  They wish to establish an even more restrictive Sunni theocracy along the lines of Iran's Shia government.  There may be lower-ranking royals willing to help them achieve that.  Nothing would please them more than to see those documents released, which is one possible reason why both Bush and Obama have be reluctant to declassify the material.

Whatever those documents contain, a good case can be made that they should be released, and let the chips fall where they may in Saudi Arabia.