Wednesday’s Capitol Hill press conference accompanying the reintroduction of a House resolution urging the president to declassify a 28-page finding on foreign government support of the 9/11 hijackers is worth watching or reading in its entirety—particularly to appreciate the conviction of Congressmen Walter Jones and Stephen Lynch, former Senator Bob Graham and 9/11 family members.
For those who prefer a condensed version, however, here’s a short collection of quotes we found particularly noteworthy.
- Jones: “No nation can defend itself unless the nation knows the truth, and especially when there’s been an attack like 9/11.”
- Graham: “There is no threat to national security in disclosure (of the 28 pages). I’m going to make the case today, that there’s a threat to national security by non-disclosure, and we saw another chapter of that today in Paris.”
- Lynch: “It’s interesting that we are not hearing strong arguments from the White House as to the reasons that they refuse to declassify. It’s silence, inertia.”
- Graham: “Much of what passes for classification for national security reasons is really classified because it would disclose incompetence. And since the people who are classifying are also often the subject of the materials, they have an institutional interest in avoiding exposure of their incompetence.”
- Graham: “I hope and I trust that the United States will crush ISIS, but if we think that is the definition of victory, we are being very naive. ISIS is a consequence, not a cause.”
- Lynch: “From my own experience, after I read the 28 pages, I told the two people that were observing me…’You can go back to your bosses and tell ‘em that after I read the 28 pages, I said, I’m going to file legislation to make this public.’ “
Redacted Material Implicates Saudi Arabia as 9/11’s Principal Financier
Graham: “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier.”
Cox Media Group’s Patrick Terpstra: “When you speak of Saudi Arabia, Senator, are you talking about the government of Saudi Arabia, or are you talking about private actors in Saudi Arabia?”
Graham: “Given the nature of the Kingdom, I’m speaking of the Kingdom. In fact, in the litigation that these good people have been involved with, when any institution, whether it’s a financial institution, a charitable or religious institution is raised as a possible coconspirator in 9/11, the Kingdom throws the blanket of sovereign immunity over every entity. So it is a society in which it is difficult to make the kinds of distinctions between public, private, religious, that we would in the United States.”
Pervasive, Multi-Agency Cover-up of Saudi Links to 9/11Graham: “While the 28 pages are maybe the most important and the most prominent, they are by no means the only example of where information that is important to understanding the full extent of 9/11 have also been withheld from the American people.”
“This is not a narrow issue of withholding information at one place, in one time. This is a pervasive pattern of covering up the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11, by all of the agencies of the Federal government, which have access to information that might illuminate Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11.”
The Deadly Consequences of Secrecy
Graham: “The Saudis know what they did. They are not persons who are unaware of the consequences of their government’s actions. Second, the Saudis know that we know what they did…
What would you think the Saudis’ position would be, if they knew what they had done, they knew that the United States knew what they had done, and they also observed that the United States had taken a position of either passivity, or actual hostility to letting those facts be known? What would the Saudi government do in that circumstance, which is precisely where they have been, for more than a decade?
Well, one, they have continued, maybe accelerated their support for one of the most extreme forms of Islam, Wahhabism, throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. And second, they have supported their religious fervor, with financial and other forms of support, of the institutions which were going to carry out those extreme forms of Islam. Those institutions have included mosques, madrassas and military. Al-Qaeda was a creature of Saudi Arabia; the regional groups such as al-Shabaab have been largely creatures of Saudi Arabia; and now, ISIS is the latest creature.”
Redaction of 28 Consecutive Pages is Very Unusual
Lynch: “One important point I want to emphasize, is that we frequently see reports—I’m in the process of reading a 6,700-page report on the CIA enhanced interrogation process—and it is typical to see a redaction where a couple lines or a name, name of a country, name of a CIA agent might be deleted for the purpose of protecting that individual.
But in this case, this report, this joint report, 28 pages were excised, a whole section of it. That’s extraordinary.”
28 Pages Transparency and the American System of GovernmentGraham said the declassification of the 28 pages “is an issue that goes to the core of the United States’ contract with its people, that the people would give the government the credibility and support to govern; the government would give the people the information upon which they can make good judgments, as to the appropriateness of governmental action.”
Redaction Protects the Guilty, Imperils Innocents
Terry Strada, co-chair of 9/11 Families and Victims United for Justice Against Terrorism: “When former President George W. Bush classified the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry, he effectively protected the people who gave financial and logistical aid to at least some of the 19 hijackers, while they were here in this country. He effectively denied the 9/11 victims and survivors, and the American people, the truth about who was behind the worst attack on American soil. By hiding the truth about who financed 9/11, the guilty parties have gone unpunished, free to continue financing terrorist organizations, and, as a consequence, we have witnessed the creation of branches of al-Qaeda, like ISIS, grow at an alarming rate.”
Government’s Stance is Thwarting Justice
Graham: “Some 3,000 members of the families who were lost on 9/11 have been trying for years to get justice through our system for the losses that they have suffered. The position of the United States government has been to protect Saudi Arabia, at virtually every step of the judicial process. When the United States government was called upon to take a position, it has been a position adverse to the interests of the United States citizens seeking justice, and protective of the government which, in my judgment, was the most responsible for that network of support.”
Persuading Members of Congress to Read the 28 Pages
Jones: “It’s not the easiest thing to read. It’s not like going to the Library of Congress. You have to write a letter to the chairman of the House Intell Committee, and make a request that you be given permission, to go to a classified room and to sit there; you take no notes, you just sit there with somebody watching you read. So it’s not the easiest thing to read the 28 pages, you’ve got to really want to push for it.”
Lynch: “I would say, that, you know, this is 28 pages. Now, I think a lot of folks voted on the health care bill without reading it, but [laughter] that was 2,400 pages, so they probably had a good excuse on that one!”
“I’m going to try a different tack this time: I’m going to work the floor and just have members take my word for it, “You need to sign this. We need to get this disclosed to the American people.’ “