Bill has broad bipartisan support . . . except from the White House
Last week, CBS aired a special report on the missing or redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report that might implicate Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. In the CBS report, former Senator and former Florida Governor Bob Graham (D-FL) restated his long-held view that these 28 pages should be declassified.
From the transcript of the CBS report entitled “28 Pages”:
. . . [T]he White House and intelligence officials are reviewing whether to declassify one of the country’s most sensitive documents — known as the “28 pages.” They have to do with 9/11 and the possible existence of a Saudi support network for the hijackers while they were in the U.S.
For 13 years, the 28 pages have been locked away in a secret vault. Only a small group of people have ever seen them. Tonight, you will hear from some of the people who have read them and believe, along with the families of 9/11 victims that they should be declassified.
Bob Graham: 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.
Graham, who has seen the 28 pages and has been trying to get the pages declassified since 2003, has to be careful about what he says, but he is confident that there is connection.
Bob Graham won’t discuss the classified information in the 28 pages, he will say only that they outline a network of people that he believes supported the hijackers while they were in the U.S.
Steve Kroft: You believe that support came from Saudi Arabia?
Bob Graham: Substantially.
Steve Kroft: And when we say, “The Saudis,” you mean the government, the–
Bob Graham: I mean–
Steve Kroft: –rich people in the country? Charities–
Bob Graham: All of the above.
Graham and others believe the Saudi role has been soft-pedaled to protect a delicate relationship with a complicated kingdom where the rulers, royalty, riches and religion are all deeply intertwined in its institutions.
Graham is not alone in calling for the declassification of the 28 pages; Rand Paul, last year, introduced a Senate bill to do so, and Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced a companion House bill at the same time. Neither went anywhere.
The Saudis were quick to respond to the CBS report, calling it a “compilation of myths and erroneous charges.”
Watch the report:
A bill currently working its way through Congress is taking a different tack and would, according to the New York Times, “make clear that the immunity given to foreign nations under the law should not apply in cases where nations are found culpable for terrorist attacks that kill Americans on United States soil.” Its passage would allow 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia for its purported role in 9/11; this, in turn, would strengthen the argument to declassify the 28 pages.
As Vice News noted when it was reintroduced in September, the Senate bill would pave the way for a lawsuit to proceed over Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in the 9/11 terror attacks.
Saudi Arabia has been arguing that it’s immune from liability over 9/11 under a 1976 law that makes it difficult to sue foreign countries in US courts. However, the [Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act] JASTA legislation would allow victims of terrorism on US soil to sue foreign sponsors of terrorism.
Despite (or maybe because of?) the fact that the Obama admin has been working “intently” against the bill’s passage, the Saudi government has warned the Obama administration of economic repercussions should the bill pass.
The New York Times continues:
Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.
. . . . The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.
The bill, however, is widely supported on both sides of the aisle.
The bill is an anomaly in a Congress fractured by bitter partisanship, especially during an election year. It is sponsored by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York. It has the support of an unlikely coalition of liberal and conservative senators, including Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, and Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. It passed through the Judiciary Committee in January without dissent.
It’s puzzling that the Obama administration would fight tooth and nail a bill that has such broad bipartisan support, and it seems convenient that the Saudis would interject a threat to our nation’s economy as the Obama administration works furiously to kill the bill.DONATE
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