Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has joined a group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives who are pushing for the publication of 28 pages from the official report on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 which have remained classified for more than a decade.
For years a growing group of congress members have called on the government to release the pages, which pertain to foreign government involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and which they claim point to Saudi Arabian government involvement in their financing.
“We all are calling today for the release of these 28 pages,” Paul said on Tuesday as he introduced the bill, titled “The Transparency for the Families of 9/11 Victims Act.”
His proposal has gained the support his fellow senators Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and is similar to an effort led by his colleagues in the House which has been led by Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). House members introduced their legislation in January.
“We cannot let page after page of blanked-out documents be obscured by a veil,” Paul said at a news conference in Washington, DC on Tuesday, accompanied by colleagues and families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. “We owe it to these families, and we cannot let this lack of transparency erode trust and make us feel less secure.”
Following the September 11 attacks, the 9/11 Commission was established to provide a clear picture of just how such an event came to pass. The bipartisan commission consisted of five Democrats and five Republicans.
The “full” report was published in 2004.
Except for the one 28-page chapter, redacted by President Bush on the grounds that information within those pages could hamper US foreign policy efforts to effectively fight the war on terror.
Bob Graham, the former Democratic Senator who, in 2002, chaired the joint congressional inquiry into the attacks, has been working with current congress members to pressure the government to release the chapter in its entirety.
“The 28 pages are very important and will, I think, inform the American people and, in so doing, will cause the American government to reconsider the nature of our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Graham said on Tuesday. “But beyond that, these are emblematic of a pattern of withholding information unnecessarily and to the detriment of the American people.”
A few lawmakers have been able to access the 28 pages by requesting permission from the House Intelligence Committee, and some who have read them have not agreed that they blame Saudi Arabia. The kingdom itself has pushed for the pages release, arguing that some rumors about their contents are worse than what’s really in them.
An available segment of the 9/11 Commission revealed that “contacts in the United States helped hijackers find housing, open bank accounts, obtain driver’s licenses, locate flight schools, and facilitate transactions.”
But Graham adds that part of the redacted information found that those contacts were Saudi nationals with strong connections to the Saudi government.
“I think that in a very tightly controlled institution like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, activities that would be potentially negative to its relationship with its closest ally, the United States, would not have been made at any but the highest levels,” he said when the House bill was presented earlier this year.
Graham has also accused the US of turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabian financing and support of the Islamic State, calling the kingdom “a central figure in financing ISIS and extremist groups,” as cited in the Independent.
“I believe that the failure to shine a full light on Saudi actions and particularly its involvement in 9/11 has contributed to the Saudi ability to continue to engage in actions that are damaging to the US – and in particular their support for Isis.”