WASHINGTON – Congress released on Friday a long-classified report exploring the alleged ties of the Saudi Arabian government to the 9/11 hijackers.
Known as the “28 pages,” the secret document was part of a 2002 congressional investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks and has been classified since the report’s completion.
“This is great news,” said Jerry Goldman, a lawyer who represents families of victims in a class-action suit seeking to sue Saudi Arabia, ahead of the release. “The families are happy just as the American people should be happy that information that has been kept hidden for well over a decade is finally coming to light.”
Former Sen. Bob Graham, who chaired the committee that carried out the investigation and has been pushing the White House to release the pages, said Thursday he was “very pleased” that the documents would be released.
“It is going to increase the questioning of the Saudis’ role supporting the hijackers,” Graham told CNN. “I think of this almost as the 28 pages are sort of the cork in the wine bottle. And once it’s out, hopefully the rest of the wine itself will start to pour out.”
“Would the U.S. government have kept information that was just speculation away from American people for 14 years if somebody didn’t think it was going to make a difference?”Graham asked.
Under pressure from the victims’ families and lawmakers, President Barack Obama said in April his administration would declassify the pages.
Sources told CNN that intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the State Department have all reviewed and approved the release of the pages with “minimal redactions.” But the report Congress put out had multiple inked out sections.
One of those who wants to read the pages is Terry Strada, who has been pushing for the right to sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged involvement in the attack. Her husband, Tom, was working on the 104th floor of the North Tower when the planes struck. The couple’s third child had been born just four days eariler.
“If it was just this low-level … government officials in the Saudi Arabian government, then they have nothing to worry about,” Strada said. “The American people deserve this just as much as the 9/11 families deserve it, but we’re the ones that are suffering by not having them released.”
The Saudi government itself has repeated called for the pages to be made public so that it can respond to any allegations, which it has long called unfounded.
“We’ve been saying since 2003 that the pages should be released,” said Nail Al-Jubeir, director of communications for the Saudi Embassy, ahead of Friday’s developments. “They will show everyone that there is no there there.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal also released a statement on the release:
These new revelations are a chilling description of Saudi ties to terrorists, Saudi payments to terrorists, and Saudi obstruction of U.S. antiterrorism investigations. While the pages do not reach a conclusion regarding Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, they provide more than enough evidence to raise serious concerns. These concerns should be addressed and proved or disproved in court, but loopholes in America’s antiterrorism laws make that impossible. Congress must immediately pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, introduced by Senators Schumer and Cornyn and myself, to ensure any nation that conspires against the American people can be brought to justice.