HARPER: ON THE 17TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 9/11 ATTACKS

Harp
The story of September 11, 2001 is still being written.  This will remain the case so long as the government keeps hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from the public.  A small number of Representatives and Senators conducted a three-year battle to force the declassification (with heavy redactions) of the 28-page chapter from the original Joint Congressional Inquiry report from December 2002 (not to be confused with the later 9/11 Commission Report).  That chapter revealed significant Saudi government support to the 9/11 hijackers, extending up to the Ministry of Defense and Aviation and the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.  In September 2016, two months after the 28 pages were released to the public after a 14 year gap, both Houses of Congress overrode a President Obama veto to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which removed sovereign immunity in cases where agents of a foreign government aided and abetted a terrorist attack on US soil.

In early 2018, a Federal Judge in New York rejected a Saudi motion to be dismissed from a civil law suit by survivors of the 9/11 attacks and family members of the 3,000 people killed.  The Judge not only ruled that the Saudis were not exempted under sovereign immunity due to JASTA.  He ordered discovery for the plaintiffs against two Saudi government officials who clearly were in direct contact and aided the original two hijackers to arrive in the United States, Al Mihdhar and Al Hazmi.

On August 21, 2018, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced Senate Resolution 610, calling for the declassification of all the remaining investigative files on 9/11.  The Senate resolution was the exact wording of a House resolution introduced in the spring by Representatives Walter Jones, Stephen Lynch and Thomas Massie.  Those three House members led the fight for the declassification of the 28 pages.  The Senators calling for the release of the 9/11 files are formidable:  Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, Senator Richard Blumenthal (the lead sponsor), Senator Kirstin Gillebrand and Senator Robert Menendez.  The House and Senate resolutions called for the "documents to be declassified to the greatest extent possible," because "the survivors, families and the people of the United States deserve answers."

Theories about the 9/11 attacks run in the extreme; however, it is clear from the official investigations that the US intelligence community–particularly the CIA and the FBI–hid evidence before and after the fact and have a great deal of accounting for their horribly poor performance.  Robert Mueller, who came in as FBI Director weeks before 9/11, went out of his way to conceal evidence from the Congressional inquiry.  He argued for the burying of the 28 pages.  Protecting the FBI from embarrassing disclosures took precedent over getting at the truth about the 9/11 attacks.  The fruits of that perfidy have carried forward in ways that were clearly not imagined at the time of the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent coverup.

For the past several years, a Federal Judge in Florida has been reviewing 80,000 pages of FBI files that were withheld from Congressional investigators.  Those documents showed that a prominent Saudi businessman, with very close ties to the Royal Family, hosted three of the hijackers at his home in a gated community in Sarasota, Florida.  Similar files from FBI investigations in Paterson, New Jersey; Herndon, Virginia; and Boston, Massachusetts have never been released, so there continue to be sizeable gaps in what the public knows.  

It may take years or even decades before the full story of the 9/11 attacks is unraveled.  But it would be a grave disservice to the 3,000 people who died, the survivors, and the families of those killed and injured, to stop the quest now. Each year, the anniversary of 9/11 serves as a reminder.

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