A break from the usual in these pages, here’s an adaption of Green Day’s ‘Troubled Times’ by Sandra Jelmi…
A break from the usual in these pages, here’s an adaption of Green Day’s ‘Troubled Times’ by Sandra Jelmi…
For many years, former Florida U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has been a lonely voice urging people to do something about Saudi Arabia.
Now that a group of Saudi security agents are accused in Turkey of killing a Washington Post journalist, Graham is hoping it will get a strong reaction from officials in the United States. So far, President Donald J. Trump and other officials in Washington have done nothing to punish the Saudi government for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the wake of news from Turkey that he was lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and murdered last month.
Graham believes the Saudis are also responsible for the deaths of Americans killed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
Fifteen of the nineteen men who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Graham has spent a lot of years trying to help the families of Americans killed on that day and put a spotlight on the actions of high- ranking Saudi officials. It has not been easy.
An important family of Saudi citizens suddenly left their home and cars in a gated Sarasota subdivision just two weeks before September 11, 2001, the day nearly 3,000 Americans died in the worst terrorist attack ever launched in the United States.
Graham was chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chairman of a joint congressional committee that investigated the attacks. The Committee heard about the Saudis who were on airplanes, but was not told about the Sarasota family that had been visited repeatedly by some of the Saudi pilots who took over those airplanes filled with passengers and crashed them into buildings.
That information came to Graham and others from a report in the FloridaBulldog.org, a South Florida nonprofit news organization.
Graham was flabbergasted to learn from a reporter in September 2011 that the FBI had compiled a report on the Sarasota family. That report that was never given to members of the joint committee investigating the attack. The FBI initially denied the existence of reports on the Sarasota connection, but after Graham and reporters continued to press for access to records, the FBI turned over over 80,000 pages to a federal judge in South Florida. U.S. District Judge William J. “Bill” Zloch has spent the past six years reading the 80,000 pages, but has not responded to a request from Graham’s lawyers for a status report.
The 9/11 Commission’s official report said the hijackers acted on their own without help. But the Joint Committee’s earlier report included a 28-page segment dealing with the FBI’s investigation of Saudi involvement titled “Specific sources of foreign support for hijackers.’’ Those 28 pages were classified by the FBI and not made pubic until 2016.
Graham has long believed those working to block release of the report were trying to protect access to Saudi oil reserves and longtime friendships between the United States and Saudi Arabia. He has received almost no help from other public officials and some officials have repeatedly suggested he “forget it.’’
And the FBI went to some trouble to convince Graham to stop asking questions. Just before Thanksgiving in 2011, Graham, who had retired from the Senate six years earlier, and his wife, Adele, were heading to Washington to spend Thanksgiving with family. The FBI sent agents to meet him at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington. They were detained by high ranking FBI agents, who locked Mrs. Graham in a room by herself while they tried to convince the former senator that the FBI had done a thorough investigation and concluded there was no relationship between the Saudi family that fled Sarasota and the hijackers.
Graham was not convinced. He had seen some of the reports indicating that Mohammed Atta, the Saudi who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center, had been a visitor to the Saudi family’s house in Sarasota. The license plate of the car Atta was driving had been photographed at the subdivision gatehouse and guards had recorded his name in entry logs. When Graham tried to contact the agent who had written the reports, he was told the agent had been transferred from Tampa to Honolulu and was instructed not to return telephone calls.
There was a similar situation in San Diego, where a Saudi family had provided assistance to other hijackers in the United States to obtain flight training, but that incident was reported to members of the joint investigative committee.
“The United States has continued a policy of placating the Saudis that has lasted for three administrations,’’ Graham noted. “It has emboldened them to do even worse things.’’
He is hopeful that some administration will at some point say “To hell with this, we’re going to start treating Saudi Arabia for what it is: a narcissistic nation-state whose only apparent redeeming feature is that it sits on top of the world’s largest petroleum reserves while protecting the identity of Saudi malefactors,’’ Graham said.
The fight by Graham and others to gain access to all of the records is being waged in three different federal courts. The families of those killed on September 11 finally won the right to file suit against Saudi Arabia in an attempt to seek damages. It took an act of Congress and a vote to overturn a presidential veto to gain that right. Their lawsuit for damages is still pending.
Meanwhile, the Florida Bulldog is pursuing two Freedom of Information Act suits against the FBI. The first, before Judge Zloch, is attempting to obtain the bureau’s records of its Sarasota investigation. The second, now before a federal appeals court in Atlanta, seeks record of the FBI’s 9/11 Review Commission.
“I just turned 82 on Friday,’’ Graham says. “I hope I live long enough to see the truth.’’
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been in the news lately due to his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. After a 12-year stint leading the Bureau, the longest ever since J. Edgar Hoover, Mueller is now seen by many as an honest man serving the interest of the American public. However, that perception cannot be defended once one knows about Mueller’s past.
What some people don’t know about Mueller is that he has a long history of leading government investigations that were diversions or cover-ups. These include the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the investigation into the terrorist financing Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the FBI investigations into the crimes of September 11th, 2001. Today the public is beginning to realize that Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a similar diversion.
Mueller’s talents were noticed early in his career at the Justice Department. As a U.S. Attorney in Boston during the mid-80s, he helped falsely convict four men for murders they didn’t commit in order to protect a powerful FBI informant—mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.” According to the Boston Globe, “Mueller was also in that position while Whitey Bulger was helping the FBI cart off his criminal competitors even as he buried bodies in shallow graves along the Neponset.”
Mueller was then appointed as chief investigator of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 in Scotland. The account Mueller produced was a flimsy story that accused a Libyan named Megrahi of coordinating placement of a suitcase bomb that allegedly traveled unaccompanied through several airports to find its way to the doomed flight. Despite Mueller’s persistent defense of this unbelievable tale, Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 and died three years later in Libya.
With the Pan Am 103 case, Mueller was covering up facts related to some of the of victims of the bombing—a group of U.S. intelligence specialists led by Major Charles McKee of the Defense Intelligence Agency. McKee had gone to Beirut to find and rescue hostages and, while there, learned about CIA involvement in a drug smuggling operation run through an agency project called COREA. As TIME magazine reported, the likely explanation for the bombing, supported by independent intelligence experts, was that U.S. operatives “targeted Flight 103 in order to kill the hostage-rescue team.” This would prevent disclosure of what McKee’s team had learned. That theory was also supported by the fact that the CIA showed up immediately at the scene of the crash, took McKee’s briefcase, and returned it empty.
Mueller’s diversions led to his leadership of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, putting him in charge of investigations regarding BCCI. When Mueller started in that role, members of Congress and the media were already critical of the government’s approach to the BCCI affair. Mueller came into the picture telling the Washington Post that there was an “appearance of, one, foot-dragging; two, perhaps a cover-up.” Later he denied the cover-up claim and the suggestion that the CIA may have collaborated with BCCI operatives.
But again, Mueller was simply brought to accomplish the cover-up. The facts were that BCCI was used by the CIA to operate outside of the rule of law through funding of terrorists and other criminal operatives. The criminal bank was at the root of some of the greatest crimes against the public in the last 50 years, including the Savings & Loan scandal, the Iran-Contra affair, and the creation of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Mueller was instrumental in obstructing the BCCI investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. During this time, Justice Department prosecutors were instructed not to cooperate with Morgenthau. Describing Mueller’s obstruction of Morgenthau, the Wall Street Journal reported that, “documents were withheld, and attempts were made to block other federal agencies from cooperating.”
Describing Mueller’s role in the BCCI cover-up more clearly, reporter Chris Floyd wrote:
“When a few prosecutors finally began targeting BCCI’s operations in the late Eighties, President George Herbert Walker Bush boldly moved in with a federal probe directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. The U.S. Senate later found that the probe had been unaccountably ‘botched’–witnesses went missing, CIA records got ‘lost,’… Lower-ranking prosecutors told of heavy pressure from on high to ‘lay off.’ Most of the big BCCI players went unpunished or, like [Khalib bin] Mahfouz, got off with wrist-slap fines and sanctions. Mueller, of course, wound up as head of the FBI, appointed to the post in July 2001–by George W. Bush.”
Yes, in the summer of 2001, when the new Bush Administration suspected it would soon need a cover-up, Mueller was brought in for the job. Although suspect Louis Freeh was FBI Director in the lead-up to the crimes, Mueller knew enough to keep things under wraps. He also had some interesting ties to other 9/11 suspects like Rudy Giuliani, whose career paralleled Mueller’s closely during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
Under Mueller, the FBI began the whitewash of 9/11 immediately. Mueller himself lied repeatedly in the direct aftermath with respect to FBI knowledge of the accused hijackers. He claimed that the alleged hijackers left no paper trail, and suggested that they exercised “extraordinary secrecy” and “discipline never broke down.” In fact, “ring leader” Mohamed Atta went to great lengths to draw attention to himself prior to the attacks. Moreover, the evidence the accused men supposedly left behind was obvious and implausibly convenient for the FBI.
Meanwhile, Mueller’s FBI immediately seized control of the investigations at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, PA where United Flight 93 was destroyed. Under Mueller, leaders of the Bureau went on to arrest and intimidate witnesses, destroy or withhold evidence, and prevent any independent investigation. With Mueller in the lead, the FBI failed to cooperate with the government investigations into 9/11 and failed miserably to perform basic investigatory tasks. Instead, Mueller celebrated some of the most egregious pre-9/11 failures of the FBI by giving those involved promotions, awards, and cash bonuses.
As FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley later wrote with regard to 9/11, “Robert Mueller (and James Comey as deputy attorney general) presided over a cover-up.” Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows known as the “Jersey Girls,” stated something similar:
“Mueller and other FBI officials had purposely tried to keep any incriminating information specifically surrounding the Saudis out of the Inquiry’s investigative hands. To repeat, there was a concerted effort by the FBI and the Bush Administration to keep incriminating Saudi evidence out of the Inquiry’s investigation.”
Supporting Breitweiser’s claims, public watchdog agency Judicial Watch emphasized Mueller’s role in the cover-up.
“Though the recently filed court documents reveal Mueller received a briefing about the Sarasota Saudi investigation, the FBI continued to publicly deny it existed and it appears that the lies were approved by Mueller.”
Mueller’s FBI went on to “botch” the investigation into the October 2001 anthrax attacks. As expected, the result was a long series of inexplicable diversions that led nowhere. The anthrax attacks occurred at a time when Mueller himself was warning Americans that another 9/11 could occur at any time (despite his lack of interest in the first one). They also provided the emotional impetus for Americans and Congress to accept the Patriot Act, which had been written prior to 9/11. Exactly why Mueller’s expertise was needed is not yet known but examining the evidence suggests that the anthrax attackers were the same people who planned 9/11.
With knowledge of Mueller’s past, people can see that he is not in the news today to reveal important information about Russia and the Trump Administration. To the contrary, Mueller is in the news to divert attention away from important information and, most likely, to prevent the Trump Administration from being scrutinized in any real way.
In 2017, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest the Trump Administration’s denial of science. This began with the “March for Science” in April and continued throughout the year with scientists and supporters trying to find their political voice. However, most people in this new science-promoting movement willfully deny basic laws of science when those laws relate to one particularly sensitive subject of national discourse.
For example, many Americans have denied the Law of Conservation of Momentum as it relates to the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This point was made in a peer-reviewed scientific paper published in a journal of civil engineering (see point #5). Although conservation of momentum is taught and understood by students in secondary school, the alleged violation of this law is widely accepted by those who are faced with the obvious, evidence-based alternative that explosives were used to bring the buildings down.
Similarly, Americans who failed to question the official account have also denied the Law of the Conservation of Angular Momentum. In this case, the top section of the south tower rotated off its axis and should have continued rotating and falling intact along the aide of the building but it did not. Instead the top section was simply pulverized in mid air by unseen forces.
The Law of the Conservation of Energy was also violated on 9/11, if one believes the official government account. One way in which this can be seen is with regard to temperatures needed to achieve the government’s claim that steel softened throughout a wide swath of each building. The jet fuel and office furnishings in the Twin Towers did not provide the energy needed for the steel components to reach temperatures needed to soften steel. Moreover importantly, molten metal was observed at the site of the WTC destruction and this fact can only be explained by the presence of thermitic materials for which there is an enormous amount of evidence.
The U.S. government took great pains over a period of years to ignore the evidence for what actually happened at the WTC site while taking a politically driven, anti-scientific approach to it. Sadly, subsequent administrations and many professional scientists have ignored the evidence and the related, political abuse of science in order to avoid sensitive implications. Today’s science-promoting Americans have, in many cases, also ignored the evidence and have therefore practiced the opposite of what they preach. That is, abuse of science is bad when Trump does it but is perfectly acceptable when “conspiracy theories” are the only other choice.
Meanwhile, 9/11 victim’s families continue to fight for justice and scientists in other countries can be seen rejecting the spread of America’s anti-science approach. When Americans are truly willing to stand up for science no matter the political implications, the world might begin to heal from the violence and social destruction that began with those fateful crimes. Until then, the world will continue to suffer the consequences of the willful ignorance of science in America.
Because i still don’t believe we’ve been told the whole truth about what happened on that fateful day 15 years ago today, i’ve posted a few videos that challenge the official narrative…
Paul Thompson on the failure of US air defense on 9/11 (Pt. 1):
Pt 2, Paul Thompson interview:
Web writer John Patten speaks at a Venice City Council meeting on the shady history of Venice Airport, where some of the 9/11 hijackers trained:
Philip Zelikow’s key role in covering up intelligence failures prior to 9/11:
Zero: An investigation into 9/11:
Senator Bob Graham addresses the media at the National Press Club on August 31st. He speaks on the recently-released 28 pages which implicate the Saudi Royal family members in the 9/11 attacks:
9/11 Suspects: The Dancing Israelis
Of the people who had contact with the hijackers in San Diego, no one was closer to them than Abdussattar Shaikh. History Commons said about Shaikh: “Despite much scrutiny after 9/11, little information will emerge on Shaikh’s background or why he came to the FBI’s notice.”
In newspaper reports, he was described as “a gregarious retired educator who has lived for years in San Diego.” He was identified in wire reports as “a retired professor of English at San Diego State,” and “Vice President for International Projects at American Commonwealth University.”
Any guess about why none of this was ever reported?
Yet a brief trip to San Diego was all it took to discover that Shaikh was nothing of the kind. Every single detail in the biography of Abdussattar Shaikh was a lie. He never taught at San Diego State; has never been a Professor of English anywhere.
He has a phony PhD purchased from a bogus diploma mill run by people with U.S. military and intelligence connections; and the “University” where he was supposed to be “Vice President or International Projects” does not, in fact, exist.
Also his real name is not Abdussattar Shaikh but “Abdussattar Chhipa.” Or, as the FBI apparently called him, “Muppet.“ Muppet was a paid informant in counter-terrorism—of all things—before 9/11, although he supposedly never told his FBI handlers in San Diego of the two terrorist he was harboring in his home.
Much later, while (Bob) Graham, after retiring from the Senate, was in Sarasota flogging his fictional book about the 9/11 attack , I confronted him with what I’d learned about Muppet. I thought he’d be grateful for the knowledge. He had, after all, attempted to subpoena Muppet to appear before the 9/11 Committee, but the FBI had refused to deliver it to him.
Earlier, author Anthony Summers, who was then in my debt because i’d spent a month showing him around Venice and introducing him to original sources which he somehow completely failed to mention a word about in his book “The Eleventh Day,” solemnly promised to convey to Graham what I’d discovered about Shaik when they met.
Yet in person Graham denied knowing anything about the information I’d learned about Shaikh, which made either him or Anthony Summers a more accomplished liar than one usually encounters.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about 9/11 is that people often ask us to “Never Forget” while at the same time never learning, let alone remembering, anything about the crimes. This is a beautiful example of Orwell’s concept of Doublethink in which citizens covet their own unconsciousness in order to avoid acknowledging uncomfortable facts. One such fact is that we were given a string of false, contradictory official accounts for the failure of the national air defense systems that day and the last one given is the most unbelievable.
The ever-changing accounts for the failure to intercept any of the four hijacked planes began two days after the attacks. That first account was provided in an official hearing to confirm General Richard Myers as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). Myers testified that no fighter jets were scrambled to intercept any of the hijacked flights until after the Pentagon was hit. Although Myers did not sound terribly confident in his knowledge, people thought he should have been, considering that more than 48 hours had passed and he had been serving as acting CJCS during the attacks.
A second, contradictory story was given five days later, when North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) provided a partial timeline of the notifications it had received from the Federal Aviation Administration and the responses that followed. The timeline showed that NORAD was notified about the hijacking of Flight 175 at 8:43 am, a full twenty minutes before it impacted the south tower of the WTC. Moreover, F-15 interceptor jets from Otis Air Force Base were said to be airborne by 8:52, having been scrambled in response to the first hijacking.
General Ralph Eberhart, who was commander of NORAD on 9/11, reiterated the timeline in testimony to the U.S. Senate in October 2001 and for two years it stood as the official account. Eberhart added that NORAD was notified about the hijacked Flight 77 coming into Washington at 9:24 am, fourteen minutes before it impacted the Pentagon. He repeatedly told the Senate Armed Services Committee that this was a “documented notification.”
A book released in January 2003 further established this account of the military’s response. The book, called Air War Over America: Sept. 11 Alters Face Of Air Defense Mission, was based on hundreds of interviews with the personnel responsible for conducting the nation’s air defenses that day. It was authored by Leslie Filson, public affairs officer for the 1st Air Force, and had been reviewed for accuracy by all the top brass who were in charge of the air defenses on 9/11.
In May 2003, Eberhart’s subordinates General Larry Arnold and Colonel William Alan Scott gave the third version of the story by presenting a slightly revised version of NORAD’s timeline. They contradicted the timeline for Flight 175, saying that NORAD was not notified of the hijacking until three minutes after that aircraft had crashed into the south tower. This was despite the fact that when asked by a U.S. Senator about “the second hijacked plane somewhere up there,” Eberhart had previously said “Yes, sir. During that time, we were notified.”
Arnold and Scott also revealed for the first time that NORAD was notified about the hijacking of Flight 93 at 9:16 am. This was 47 minutes before that flight allegedly crashed in Pennsylvania, at 10:03 am. Obviously, interceptor jets could have easily reached and escorted Flight 93 given this revised timeline.
Colonel Robert Marr, who was running the response at NORAD’s North East Air Defense Sector (NEADS), repeated several times in an interview with investigators that he recalled monitoring Flight 93 during the time that it was hijacked.
It was not only Marr who remembers monitoring Flight 93 in the NEADS battle cab. NEADS intelligence officer Lt. Col. Mark Stuart, who was standing right next to Marr during the crisis, reported the same thing. Both of them said that they were tracking Flight 93. And many air traffic controllers made clear in their handwritten notes from that day, and their personal statements afterward, that Flight 93 was known as a hijacking long before it was destroyed.
General Arnold clarified in testimony to the Commission that, “It was our intent to intercept United Flight 93. And in fact my own staff, we were orbiting now over Washington, D.C. by this time, and I was personally anxious to see what 93 was going to do, and our intent was to intercept it. But we decided to stay over Washington, D.C., because there was not that urgency. So we elected to remain over D.C. until that aircraft was definitely coming towards us.”
Unfortunately, the 9/11 Commission Report came out 14 months later and contradicted all of the previous accounts and testimony. The Commission’s Report stated that:
NORAD’s “air defenders had nine minutes’ notice on the first hijacked plane, no advance notice on the second, no advance notice on the third, and no advance notice on the fourth.”
That is, the Commission claimed that the military was never notified at all about three of the four hijacked planes until after they had crashed.
In order to explain away the considerable evidence for knowledge about the hijacked planes, the Commission made the ludicrous claim that all the Air Force officers had been either mistaken or lying in previous testimonies. Why any of those the officers would spend years lying, in ways that made the Air Force look incompetent, was never revealed.
The Commission’s air defense team, led by an expert propagandist, inserted some new diversionary claims to reconcile some of the confusion. One was a story about “Phantom Flight 11” that was used to explain why the fighter jets scrambled were going in the wrong direction at half speed. This phantom flight was never mentioned by the Filson book, which had been thoroughly reviewed by all Air Force leaders prior to publication.
With regard to United 93, the Commission relied on the report of another hijacking as a means of explaining confusion. This was Delta Airlines Flight 1989, which was reported as hijacked that morning despite the pilot of that aircraft saying that he was not hijacked, according to air traffic controller notes. Delta 1989 landed in Cleveland approximately 20 minutes before United 93 was said to have crashed 200 miles away in Pennsylvania.
The Commission’s new explanation, that everyone who thought they were tracking United 93 was really just tracking Delta 1989, is not believable. Reasons include that Delta 1989 never turned off its transponder, was clearly identified throughout its flight, and never lost contact with controllers.
And as Colonel Scott testified, NORAD was notified of the United 93 hijacking at 9:16 and didn’t turn off its transponder until 9:40, just a few minutes before Delta 1989 landed in Cleveland. Moreover, writer Leslie Filson noted that General Arnold made clear, in his interview with her, that NORAD was tracking both United 93 and Delta 1989. Since NORAD was aware of both, and both were clearly identified, it could not be that Delta 1989 had been mistaken for United 93 at any time let alone for the 47 minutes that the hijacked United 93 was being tracked.
With certainty, the odds are vanishingly small that the three previous official accounts for the air defense failures represented years-long points of confusion for every single Air Force officer who was involved. Alternatively, that all of these military officers spent years lying to make themselves look bad is a claim beyond unbelievable. It is much more likely that it was the 9/11 Commission that lied when it provided the fourth official account. Yet the people who call for us to “Never Forget” are not likely to ever learn, let alone remember, any of it.
How little the American public knows about the operations of the 9/11 hijackers 15 years after the day…
One of the ongoing mysteries in Washington is why the Obama administration is still classifying 28 pages of a congressional report written in 2003 that documents Saudi support for the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks.
The bipartisan co-authors of that report have long called for its release to the public, and President Obama on two separate occasions over the last several years promised the 9/11 families that he would declassify the 28 pages.
Now pressure on Obama to make good on his promise is mounting. Advocates claim there is no longer any reason to protect the Saudis 15 years after the attacks. Government insiders argue there’s nothing in the 28 pages that they don’t already know, and making them public will only roil an important strategic relationship at a time when it’s already under significant strain.
Into this volatile mix marches 60 Minutes, the venerable CBS News show, with a hard-hitting report Sunday on the making of those 28 pages, and a renewed push by those with the most direct knowledge of what they contain to finally make them public. As the 60 Minutes segment points out, Obama is traveling to Saudi Arabia in 10 days, a trip that comes in the midst of his administration’s review of whether to go ahead with the de-classification.
Former Florida senator Bob Graham chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chaired the joint congressional committee that looked into the attacks. He told 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, “I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education, could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States.”
An exchange between Kroft and Graham goes to the heart of the dispute. “You believe that support came from Saudi Arabia?” Kroft asks. “Substantially,” Graham replies. “And when we say, ‘The Saudis,’ you mean the government…rich people in the country? Charities?”
“All of the above,” Graham replies.
It has long been the Saudi position that support for the hijackers did not come from the government, and the congressional report contained a line that seemed to exonerate the government. “It’s not an exoneration,” says former senator Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 Commission who has filed an affidavit in support of a lawsuit brought by the 9/11 families seeking redress from the Saudi government for the loss of their loved ones.
The families don’t want another 9/11 anniversary to pass without fully understanding the complicity that led to the attacks. By turning its media megaphone on the impasse, 60 Minutes showed viewers the extraordinary range of high profile former officials on both sides of the political aisle who wish to see this matter resolved. Porter Goss, who co-chaired the congressional inquiry with Graham and then became CIA director under President Bush, recounted asking then FBI Director Robert Mueller why the 28 pages were classified and basically being told, “Because we said so.”
Withholding them during the Bush years made a certain amount of sense because the attacks were still so fresh, and the Bush family had long-standing close ties with the Saudi royal family. Making those pages public would be embarrassing. Obama has more freedom to make a decision based on national security considerations, but he may be reluctant to strain U.S. ties with the kingdom further.
Former Democratic congressman Tim Roemer, who was a member of the joint committee, says the 28 pages contains information that will surprise people, including, he suggests, leads that were not sufficiently pursued. He mentions an imam at a San Diego mosque, Anwar al-Awlaki, who years later would be taken out by a U.S. drone in Yemen. “Those are a lot of coincidences, and that’s a lot of smoke. Is that enough to make you squirm and uncomfortable, and dig harder—and declassify these 28 pages? Absolutely,” he said.
60 Minutes opened its report with an image of a locked door on Capitol Hill, behind which the 28 pages are kept under top security. Members of Congress can go and read the pages, but they cannot take notes or bring along a staff member. A relatively small percentage of lawmakers have availed themselves of the opportunity. A bipartisan effort led by Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina and Democrat Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts is urging members to read the pages, and once they’ve done that, to sign on to a resolution calling for their declassification.
John Lehman, secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and another member of the 9/11 Commission, told 60 Minutes: “We’re not a bunch of rubes that rode into Washington for this commission…We’ve seen fire and we’ve seen rain and the politics of national security. We all have dealt for our careers in highly classified and compartmentalized in every aspect of security. We know when something shouldn’t be declassified. And this, those 28 pages in no way fall into that category.”
There are real-life implications for the 9/11 families in these 28 pages and their potential impact on a lawsuit being heard in New York. The U.S. government holds the position that a sovereign government cannot be sued, and that has so far shielded the Saudi government. Lehman told 60 Minutes that he has no doubt some high Saudi officials knew assistance was being provided to al Qaeda, but he doesn’t think it was ever official policy. He also doesn’t think it absolves the Saudis of responsibility, Kroft said in his commentary.
“It was no accident that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. They all went to Saudi schools. They learned from the time they were first able to go to school—of this intolerant brand of Islam,” Lehman said, referring to the ultra-conservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism. After oil, Kroft says, Wahhabism is one of the kingdom’s biggest exports. Saudi clerics have billions of dollars to spread the faith, and the mosques and religious schools that the Saudi government builds all over the world are recruiting grounds for violent extremists.
It’s long past time that someone blew the whistle on what the Saudis are doing in perpetrating extremism. There are no secrets here. It’s what everyone knows is going on but few dare to disrupt. Shining a light on this long-standing protection racket could make some people squirm. It could also interrupt a very vicious cycle of behavior.