CIA Director John Brennan is defending a decision to keep 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report classified, saying they contain inaccurate information that could wrongfully link the Saudi government to the 9/11 terror attacks. People fighting to see the pages released claim the information needs further scrutiny. In the meantime, the Saudis are already fighting a law that could make them liable for the 9/11 attack and risk a delicate partnership with the U.S.
John Brennan says that the secret chapter is more than just inaccurate. He explained to Chuck Todd from Meet the Press that “this chapter was kept out because of concerns about sensitive methods [and] investigative actions.”
Brennan added that those 28 pages were written while the investigation was still underway, and the information therein wasn’t vetted corroborated. According to the New York Post, 15 out of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The country claims that’s made it “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the terror attacks, despite their efforts to fight extremists and destroy terror finance networks.
Unlike John Brennan, the Saudi Arabia has said it would welcome the release of the secret chapter, claiming it could then fight any allegations stemming from the report in the open.
The Huffington Post reports that the CIA director claimed that the 9/11 inquiry eventually “came out with a very clear judgment that there was no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution, or Saudi officials or individuals, had provided financial support to al Qaeda.”
Florida Senator Bob Graham, who helped write the secret chapter, disagrees. He’s fighting for the chapter’s release and says that there were multiple connections to the 15 hijackers. He points to one Saudi family’s abrupt move from the U.S. two weeks before the attack as a sign that some of the country’s citizens had advance knowledge of the impending attack but that the FBI has fought every step to expose the links.
In multiple interviews Graham said, “One thing that irritates me is that the FBI has gone beyond just covering up, trying to avoid disclosure, into what I call aggressive deception.”
John Brennan claims that U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia are already strained and opening the country to new allegations would further jeopardize a complex strategic alliance.
In the end, it looks like Graham will have his way nevertheless. The New York Post said the Obama Administration will “most likely” release the secret chapter, which currently sits in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol. Officials are still deciding if they will redact certain parts, or release it whole, and the document could still stay secret for several more weeks if it’s released at all.
Tim Roemer, member of the 9/11 commission, claims the chapter reads like 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.”
If John Brennan is correct, the chapter could complicate another piece of legislation called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, currently in the House of Representatives. According to Huffington Post, the bill would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government. Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton support the law, but President Obama is fighting it.
[Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images]