When the congressional committee investigating the 9/11 attacks issued its final report in 2003, then-President George W. Bush held back 28 pages of the group’s findings. Whatever was in those 28 pages would put U.S. national security in jeopardy, Bush said.
So he ordered the pages classified.
Almost immediately, a group of 46 senators, both Democrat and Republican, protested. They said that whatever sensitive information the pages contained could be blacked out, but there was no need to keep the entire contents of the 28 pages a top secret.
But their plea fell on deaf ears.
Now, more than 12 years after the attacks, and a decade after those pages were classified, two congressional representatives — again, one Democrat, one Republican — are calling on the Obama administration to make the secret pages public, saying they could shed new light on unanswered questions about who was really behind the deadliest terrorist attack in history.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four U.S. commercial airliners, crashing two into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers overpowered the hijackers.
All told, nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks.
With the attacks attributed to Al Qaeda, the Islamic fundamentalist terror group led by since-slain Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, and with 15 of the 19 hijackers natives of Saudi Arabia, there have long been widespread suspicions that the Saudi government or at least elements of the sprawling Saudi royal family had a hand in funding the attacks.
Is that why the 28 pages were classified? The two congressmen can’t say.
“I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” North Carolina republican Rep. Walter Jones told the International Business Times. “What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly.”
“These pages contain information that is vital to a full understanding of the events and circumstances surrounding this tragedy,” added Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch, who joined Jones in calling for the pages’ release.
When the investigating committee issued its report, it dropped a hint as to what might be in those hidden pages.
The committee, its report stated, succeeded in uncovering “information suggesting specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.”
But that information was largely absent from the public report.
Did the information point to Saudi sources of funding? The former senator who chaired the investigative committee says an unequivocal yes.
“The Saudi government without question was supporting the hijackers who lived in San Diego,” said Florida Democrat Bob Graham. “You can’t have 19 people living in the United States for, in some cases, almost two years, taking flight lessons and other preparations, without someone paying for it.”
Jones says the contents of the 28 pages are shocking, but they are not a threat to U.S. security.
“It does not deal with national security per se,” Jones said. “It is more about relationships. If the 9/11 hijackers had outside help — particularly from one or more foreign governments — the press and the public have a right to know what our government has or has not done to bring justice to the perpetrators.”
Sources: International Business Times, Federation Of American Scientists, Boston Globe