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.
28 pages, no smoking gun: 9/11 Commission chairmen https://t.co/PJNrOV4ZBT
— USA TODAY Opinion (@USATOpinion) April 28, 2016
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. 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.