28 Pages Later

By Jeremy Lott

About a year after terror hijackings hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. government set up a bipartisan commission to “prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11attacks.” They released “The 9/11 Commission Report” in July of 2004. You can read it on the Internet or buy a copy through Amazon. There’s even a comic book version.

However, that isn’t the whole report. We know that a whole chapter of the original report, 28 pages in length concerning the government of Saudi Arabia, was flagged as “classified” and thus withheld from the public from then until now. Last week, one of the members of the 9/11 Commission joined several others “in the know” in calling for the declassification and release of those pages.

Tim Roemer, 9/11 commissioner and former Democratic congressman from Indiana, said that he was “strongly in favor of declassifying this information as quickly as possible,” adding that “the 9/11 families deserve it, the American people deserve it, and justice deserves it. We have a right to transparency and sunlight, not to darkness.”

Roemer joined his voice to fellow 9/11 commissioner John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy under Reagan and all-around good guy, in calling for the release. Other big names calling for the release include Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, and Saudi Arabian Foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Yes, you read that last title and name correctly. The Saudis themselves don’t object to the release. Jubeir said that his government had been assured by “senior U.S officials” that any charges made in those pages “do not stand up to scrutiny and so, yes, release the 28 pages,” Jubeir said in May, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, Obama’s CIA director John Brennan has a whole host of reasons why the government shouldn’t release the chapter, all of them irrelevant. “The chapter was kept out because of concerns about sensitive methods, investigative actions, and the investigation of 9/11 was still underway” he said on “Meet the Press,” well over a decade later.

Also, Brennan added that the pages contain “a combination of things that are accurate and inaccurate” and he thinks the clear judgment of the commission was that a rejection of the charge that the “Saudi government as an institution or Saudi officials or individuals had provided financial support to al Qaeda.”

That judgment was contravened by Lehman, among others. The former commissioner readily admits that there’s no “smoking gun” in the still classified material but said that the commission wasn’t given the time or leeway to adequately investigate any Saudi connections and so didn’t reach anything like a definitive judgment.

The chapter ought to be declassified, now. Secrecy in the national interest is sometimes necessary, to preserve the cover of American agents or to facilitate ongoing operations, say. No one is making the case that is what’s at stake here, over a decade later.

Last week, the House of Representatives held a hearing on Saudi Arabia in which the 28 pages were talked and talked about. Congressmen kept saying they’d read the pages and then using this occult knowledge as a basis to generalize like crazy about whatever it is they don’t like about the House of Saud.

It’s no wonder the subject of those pages has called on the American government to go ahead and get it over with.

Jeremy Lott is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities.

This piece was originally published by The Washington Examiner on June 8, 2016. Read more HERE