Why are 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Investigation into 9/11 still classified?

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress set up a joint committee to investigate.  After nearly 6 months, the joint committee released its report – but the Bush administration redacted 28 pages of the report, citing the damage the information could do to our relationships with foreign governments.

Ever since then, families of the victims of 9/11, lawmakers, and government watchdog groups have all been agitating for the declassification of those 28 pages.  First the Bush administration, and then the Obama administration has refused all requests to reveal what's in those 28 pages.  President Obama told the families during a 9/11 memorial service that he would release the information, only to renege on that promise.

Why the secrecy?  It's believed that the 28 pages detail the assistance by Saudi nationals given to the terrorists.  Speculation has centered on some members of the House of Saud who may have given cash and other aid to the terrorists, and a faction in Saudi intelligence that may have also helped the attackers.

Now, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson will launch her new TV show by delving into the secrets to be found in the missing 28 pages.

Washington Times:

In a preview of her new Sunday morning news broadcast, five-time Emmy winner and former CBS anchor Sharyl Attkisson will delve into the top-secret pages of Congress’ intelligence report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which are still kept under wraps 14 years later.

In the report, Ms. Attkisson speaks with current and former lawmakers and family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks to uncover why the documents, known as the “28 pages” are still undisclosed.

No ordinary American can read the highly classified section of the report, and members of Congress, sworn to secrecy, are only allowed to read the pages under strict supervision.

“We spoke to people off- and on-camera who went as far as they could giving hints and information to me about what’s in them,” Ms. Attkissontold The Washington Times.

Rep. Steven Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, told Ms. Attkisson the report gives names and identities of individuals who were “complicit” in the terrorist attacks.

“They are clearly identified. How people were financed, where they were housed, where the money was coming from, the conduits that were used and the connections between some of these individuals,” Mr. Lynch said in the interview.

Other lawmakers also give hints about some of the alleged responsibility and financial ties the attackers had to prominent figures in Saudi Arabia, and speculate that the reason the documents are still classified is to shield that nation from embarrassment and maintain U.S.-Saudi diplomatic ties.

“As more and more people see these records they can’t see any legitimate reason why the pages are still withheld from the public and suspect that they are being hidden to protect people,” Ms. Attkisson said.

The people who may be "protected" by keeping the information classified could include President Bush himself, who authorized several flights immediately after 9/11 of Saudi nationals – including, reportedly, members of the bin Laden family.  It's possible that some of the names that show up in those 28 missing pages were on one or more of those flights out of the country.  This would be embarrassing for the ex-president, but it's no reason not to declassify the information.

And President Obama would have no interest in saving President Bush from embarrassment, so what's his excuse?  Some of those names must be real eye-openers – people very close to the throne.  Releasing the names may destabilize the Saudi government at a time when they are coming under attack from ISIS and al-Qaeda.  It is definitely not in the interest of the U.S. to cause the fall of the House of Saud – not when even more radical Islamists are waiting in the wings.

Also, the Saudis have been helpful in taking down several al-Qaeda terror cells in the Middle East and elsewhere, and losing that cooperation would be a blow to our counterterrorism efforts.  But it's a legitimate question to ask if all of this justifies keeping the information from the American people.

If I were a family member of a 9/11 casualty, I wouldn't care about the geopolitical considerations.  I'd want the information released and the guilty parties brought to justice.  So perhaps we should take our cue from those who lost the most on 9/11 and get the information before the American people and let the chips fall where they may.