The House Intelligence Committee has released the 28, previously classified pages, from a 2002 congressional investigation into the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Today’s publication of these pages brings to a close a years-long effort to declassify them, which had in recent months gained nearly unanimous support throughout Washington.
The long-secret pages detail evidence linking Saudi Arabia to 9/11, though officials warn that it is merely preliminary and was later dismissed by subsequent investigations into the issue.
There is no single smoking gun within the pages to definitely implicate any senior Saudi leaders for supporting the al Qaeda terrorists.
Read the 28 pages pdf document Here in our Research section.
Yet the evidence is nonetheless likely to inflame the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which has been rocky for the last year. In the U.S. in particular, release of the pages will likely lead to new scrutiny of the complex relationship between the two nations, which has previously been used as a foil during the political season.
According to the formerly top-secret pages, investigators uncovered “numerous reports” from FBI sources that at least two people in contact with some of the 9/11 hijackers may have been Saudi intelligence officers.
Other evidence pointed to the government laundering money through a mosque in Culver City, Calif., to groups affiliated with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, potential connections in phone books of extremists and the Saudi government and other evidence of ties.
However, the findings were repeatedly characterized as preliminary, and the authors noted that they did not attempt to follow through on the CIA and FBI’s information.
“In their testimony, neither CIA nor FBI witnesses were able to identify definitely the extent of Saudi support for terrorist activity globally or within the untied States and the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature,” authors claimed in the report.
“It should be clear that this joint inquiry has made no final determinations as to the reliability or sufficiency of the information regarding these issues that we found contained in FBI and CIA documents.”
Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) cautioned that the document “does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the intelligence community.”
Many of those leads were chased down in the higher-profile 9/11 Commission investigation, he noted, in an effort to avoid having the public read too much into the initial reports.
Yet the pages nonetheless ought to be revealed, lawmakers have argued, to shed light on one of the darkest days in American history.
“The American people have the right to know the full scope of the matters examined by the joint inquiry, and I have every confidence the public can assess the allegations raised in the 28 pages and the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions on those matters,” Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement.
The pages should “diminish speculation that they contain proof of official Saudi Government or senior Saudi official involvement in the 9/11 attacks,” he added.
The pages have captivated imaginations and taken on an increasingly prominent role as Congress moved forward with legislation allowing Americans to sue Saudi Arabia for any potential role in supporting the terrorists. That bill sailed through the Senate earlier this year, despite vigorous opposition from the White House and Riyadh, and appears primed for action in the House in the fall.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the newly unclassified portion of the 9/11 report “does not change” the administration’s position that senior Saudi officials had no role in the attack.
The Saudi kingdom itself has supported the release of the pages, if only to quiet the lingering allegations about its potential connections to al Qaeda.
Intelligence officials throughout the Obama administration had begun reviewing the pages for declassification in recent months.
Earlier on Friday, the White House sent to Congress a version of the pages that had been redacted to remove sources and methods. Shortly afterward, the House Intelligence Committee approved its release to the public.
In addition to the 28 pages, the director of national intelligence will soon release a declassified executive summary of a joint assessment from the FBI and CIA, Nunes said.