After a nearly 14 year delay, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have released a White House-redacted copy of the 28 page chapter from the original Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11. The 28 page chapter was blocked from publication by then-President George W. Bush, under strong pressure from both Saudi Arabia and the FBI. It took a decade-long battle, led by former Senator Bob Graham and current Members of Congress Walter Jones (R-NC), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Thomas Massie (R-Kty.), and a persistent public lobbying fight by 9/11 survivors and family members to box President Obama in. On July 6, Reps. Jones, Lynch and Massie held a Capitol Hill press conference, in which they made clear that if President Obama continued to stonewall on releasing the 28 pages, they would lead Congressional action to declassify the chapter, bypassing the Executive Branch altogether. Ultimately, they threatened to pull a "Pentagon Papers," a reference to Sen. Mike Gravel's courageous decision to put the full text of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that Gravel's actions were legal under the public interest disclosure clause of the US Constitution.
It is important to carefully read the 28 pages, which were released July 15, with some redactions. The next step should be clear: A new investigation must be launched, with adequate funding, staffing, and with no artificial deadline. A careful reading of the 28 pages should make clear that there were opportunities to crack down on the Saudi backing of Sunni jihadist terrorism 14 years ago–long before terms like "Islamic State," "Nusra Front," "Boko Haram" became household words, associated with bloody terrorist atrocities. The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are the first subject to be thoroughly revisited, but the full scope of the Saudi role in nurturing a global terrorist infrastructure must be explored, carrying right up to the present moment.
Rep. Massie, upon reading the 28 pages, told a Capitol Hill press conference more than a year ago that it changed his view of the history of the past 15 years. He was right. The coming weeks' distractions, with both parties holding their nominating conventions and then the serious launching of the presidential election campaign, cannot be a distraction from a serious response to the evidence now available, for the first time, to the American people and to the world at large.