9/11 Commission Heads Re-Issue Assurance ’28 Pages’ Don’t Implicate Saudi Gov’t

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From USA Today:

Amid renewed calls to declassify and release 28 pages of material about possible Saudi Arabian government involvement in the 9/11 attacks, we believe it is important for the public to understand what they are … and what they aren’t.

First, the 28 pages were not drafted by the 9/11 Commission. Those pages were part of a prior report by a congressional panel investigating intelligence failures related to the 9/11 attacks. Our commission was created, in part, to finish the work of that panel. But the 28 pages of that 2002 report were never ours to declassify or release.

The 28 pages have generated a lot of public speculation over the years and have been described as a “smoking gun” implicating the Saudi government in the deadliest terrorist attack carried out on U.S. soil.

What often gets lost in those theories is that the 28 pages were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material that came to the FBI. That material was written up as possible leads for further investigation, and the 28 pages were a summary of some of those reports and leads as of the end of 2002 — all of them uninvestigated. The 28 pages are comparable to preliminary law enforcement notes, which are generally covered by grand jury secrecy rules.

This point is crucial because the 9/11 attacks were the worst mass murder ever carried out in the United States

This point is crucial because the 9/11 attacks were the worst mass murder ever carried out in the United States. Those responsible deserve the maximum punishment possible. Therefore, accusations of complicity in that mass murder from responsible authorities are a grave matter. Such charges should be levied with care.

Because the congressional panel did not complete its investigation, 9/11 Commission members and relevant staff were given access to the 28 pages. All the leads contained in them were investigated by our team, which included the original drafter of the 28 pages as well as Dietrich Snell, a veteran former federal prosecutor with experience in terrorism cases, and Philip Zelikow, the commission’s executive director. The results are in the 9/11 Commission Report we released in July 2004, specifically chapters 5 and 7, as well as their endnotes. All those conclusions are public; none is classified.

Only one employee of the Saudi government mentioned in the 28 pages, Fahad al-Thumairy, was implicated in our plot investigation. He was employed by the SaudiMinistry of Islamic Affairs and was an imam at a mosque in Los Angeles. The earlier congressional panel did not interview him or any other Saudi. Our staff did interview him in Saudi Arabia. So did the FBI. But, ultimately, we acknowledged in our report that we had “found no evidence” that he assisted the two future hijackers who passed through Los Angeles.

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