The 9/11 Commission Report was incomplete when it was released, and remains incomplete to this day. As of now, there is a lot of material that remains classified, including 28 pages that one Congressman calls “stunning,” that the Obama administration is working to release to the public – estimated to be completed in the next two months. They may actually contain solid evidence showing Saudi Arabia was, in fact, involved somehow in the 9/11 attacks.
Republican North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones thinks that the only reason the pages were made classified in the first place was because the Bush administration was embarrassed by its own close ties to the Saudi government. Jones, who has seen the pages, told The New Yorker the following:
“There’s nothing in it about national security…It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.”
Stephen Lynch, a Congressman from Massachusetts, also spoke with The New Yorker and said that these pages are “stunning in [their] clarity,” and that they have strong evidence of the Saudis’ direct involvement with Al Qaeda and 9/11. The real question, according to a third, unnamed congressman, is whether this happened at the royal-family level, or somewhere below.
Either way, it looks bad for Saudi Arabia, and bad for the Bush administration. Oddly enough, The New Yorker story says that the Saudis themselves have demanded the pages be released, too, claiming they’ll prove Saudi innocence:
“‘Twenty-eight blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people,’ Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks, has declared. ‘Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.'”
CBS’ “60 Minutes” spoke with several lawmakers and former lawmakers, too. Former Senator Bob Graham told “60 Minutes” that he “remains deeply disturbed by the amount of material that has been censored” in the report, and believes these 28 pages play a crucial role in understanding what, exactly, happened that day. He thinks the Saudis that helped carry out the attack had support from inside the U.S., but that support was rooted within the Saudi government.
Graham was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the co-chair of the joint commission that investigated the intelligence failures leading up to that fateful day. While he wouldn’t tell “60 Minutes” exactly what was in those 28 pages, he has definitely seen them, and his implication is clear.
The United States has had a long relationship with Saudi Arabia, but with the Bush family in particular. The Bush family has close personal, political and business ties with the House of Saud – the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. George H.W. Bush was a personal friend of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and they actually cooperated on massive arms sales from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis supported Harken Energy, a struggling oil company in which George W. Bush was a major investor.
The two families have also worked together on a lot of foreign policy, particularly as it relates to the Middle East.
The Bush administration asked Congress to withhold these 28 pages in July of 2003. Charles Lewis, the head of the Center for Public Integrity, said, in 2009:
“It’s always been very clear that there are deep ties between the Bush family and the Saudis. It creates a credibility problem. When it comes to the war on terror, a lot of people have to be wondering why we are concerned about some countries and not others. Why does Saudi Arabia get a pass?”
Could these 28 pages answer that question? Maybe, maybe not. Without having read them, it’s hard to know. But the relationship does create a huge credibility problem for the Bush family.
There’s a lawsuit currently making its way through the U.S. court system, on behalf of the 9/11 victims and their families. We dismissed Saudi Arabia as a defendant in that suit because of insufficient evidence tying them to the attacks. The lawyers for the families want to see these 28 pages badly because they could contain that needed evidence.
President Bush himself said that declassifying these pages would expose “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.” Yet, based on what Jones, Lynch, and others told “60 Minutes,” and The New Yorker, these pages were redacted more to protect the Bush family and its relationship with the Saudis than anything to do with the war on terror.
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