As noted frequently on this blog, with "friends" and "allies" like Saudi Arabia, one may not need any enemies. As the leading exporter of Islamic extremism and a thoroughly theocratic based society, the Saudis seemingly have little in common with America but for oil and western dependence on the basket case that is the Middle East as a direct consequence. Adding to this unease with the Saudis is the continued refusal of the Obama administration to release 28 missing pages from the 9/11 Report that seemingly contain information that would not favorably dispose Americans towards Saudi Arabia, the birth place of most of the 9/11 terrorists. Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham is on a crusade to have these missing pages released. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at his quest and why it matters. Here are highlights:
Former Florida senator Bob Graham caused a stir when he used the term “aggressive deception” to describe the FBI’s treatment of 28 pages from a 2003 congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks.
The word choice was intentional, the co-chair of the investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks told The Daily Beast, because to Graham, what the FBI did was worse than the conventional Washington cover-up.
“Cover-up is a fairly passive action. You put something away and keep it out of the vision of other people who might wish to see it,” Graham explained. “Aggressive deception is where you try to change the narrative in an untruthful way, and then you keep the material that would provide the truth away from the people. So the only thing they see and are exposed to is the false narrative.”
It’s an explosive charge, a hair’s breadth away from calling the highest law enforcement officials liars, but when Graham lays out the sequence of events that brought him—a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee— to level such a broadside, his ire is understandable.
The last few years have pitted him against not only the FBI but also a range of government agencies and officials determined to keep under wraps information about Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, which he believes the public has the right to know.
For Graham, getting this information to the public has been a lonely crusade—until recently. He finally succeeded, after months of trying, in getting an appointment scheduled for today with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who is overseeing the administration’s review of the 28 pages with an eye to releasing them.
Former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a member of the 9/11 Commission, told The Guardian that there is “clear evidence” that Saudis working for the Saudi government aided the hijackers, joining other Commission members calling for the public’s right to know.
Almost a decade after putting the investigation to bed, Graham got pulled back into the 9/11 probe in 2011 when writers researching a book on the 10th anniversary of the attacks discovered that a well-off Saudi family living in a gated community in Sarasota, Florida, had contact with three of the four 9/11 pilots, including Mohammad Atta.
As The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris detailed, the information was uncovered when neighbors recognized the hijackers from their photos as frequent visitors and told law enforcement.
The FBI field office in Tampa quickly refuted the story, claiming that a six-month investigation had found no relationship between the hijackers and the family, and that all documents had been turned over to the 9/11 Commission and the JICI (Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities) before and after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
That was the inquiry Graham chaired, and he couldn’t recall getting any information about Saudi involvement in Sarasota. He called Porter Goss, his co-chair at the JICI, who had been a CIA agent and later director, “So he knows the territory,” Graham said. Goss didn’t recall any such info and neither did Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission and said they turned over all documents to the National Archives.
Graham had a search done of the Archives and the Sarasota information was not there.
The reports directly contradicted what the FBI had said publicly. “The agent in charge wrote (in the first report) that the investigation was NOT (Graham’s emphasis) completed and he suggested lines of several inquiries,” Graham recounted. “In the second file, he also wrote in very declarative language there was contact between the Saudis and three hijackers.”
Soon after reading those files, Graham and his wife flew into Dulles Airport for Thanksgiving with a daughter who lives in Virginia. To their surprise, two FBI agents met the couple at the gate and guided them to where a third “higher up” agent was waiting to speak to Graham. Then Deputy Director Sean Joyce, accompanied by a young female agent and a middle-aged Justice Department attorney, “told me basically everything about 911 was known and I was wasting my time and I should get a life,” recounts Graham.
Having just read those contradictory FBI files from the Tampa office, Graham pushed back, only to be told the FBI had “other information that put what I had read in a broader context and would lead to a different conclusion.”
Fair enough, Graham said. Can I see this information? Joyce asked the young female agent to get the materials that provided the context, and a date was set for after Thanksgiving to meet in the FBI’s downtown Washington office. Graham arrived at the agreed upon time but when Joyce came in, he said the meeting adjourned. He also told Graham to stop calling the Tampa agent who had authored the memos, and who had been transferred to Honolulu.
“And that was the end of that,” says Graham. “The meeting ended before it began.”The FBI declined to comment when asked by The Daily Beast to respond to Graham’s charge of “aggressive deception.”
National security is the reason to de-classify the 28 pages, says Graham. “I think the country is paying a real price for withholding this information, emboldening them [the Saudis] to be the primary financiers of terrorists and the primary recruiters of terrorists through their madrassas, and this failure to hold them to account has been extremely damaging,” says Graham.
With the potential for release next month, or certainly by the end of the Obama administration, answers to one of Washington’s most puzzling mysteries could finally come to light.
If there is nothing to hide, one has to wonder why all the effort to hide the information from the American public. Sadly, we need Saudi cooperation and our allies remain dependent on Middle East oil. But if the Saudis are plotting against us and financing extremists, we and the Western world need to know about it.