A Case Study of Congressional Concealment
Reviewing the 29 redacted pages of the Joint Inquiry of 9/11 attacks.
By JOHN LEAKE
Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence launched a Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before And After The Terrorist Attacks Of September 11, 2001.
In its capacity of representing We the People, Congress wanted to know what U.S. intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies knew about the hijackers before and after the attacks. Who exactly were these guys, who were they connected with, and who directed and supported them while they were in the United States?
On December of 2002, Congress published a report on its Inquiry. At first glance, this seemed an admirable example of our legislative branch doing its job for the American people. However, concerned citizens who read it—especially the relatives of Americans who died in the attacks—noticed that 29 pages of the report had been redacted because they contained “certain sensitive national security matters.”
Sensible readers will note that the whole point of the Inquiry was to ascertain WHY our intelligence and law enforcement had so catastrophically failed to protect our national security, so redacting 29 pages because they pertained “to sensitive national security matters” struck me as ridiculous. I immediately suspected that Congress was simply protecting influential “friends” and “allies” from embarrassment.
Relatives of 9/11 victims filed a FOIA request for the redacted pages, and after a 14-year legal contest, Congress was finally ordered to publish the document, which it did on Friday, July 15, 2016.
For years the redacted section had been referenced as “the 28 pages,” but the total number turned out to be 29. The key FINDING of the redacted section is as follows:
While in the United States, some of these September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government. There is information, primarily from FBI sources, that at least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers.
One of the suspected intelligence officers was Osama Bassnan, who lived across the street from two of the hijackers when they resided in San Diego and was in close contact with many of their associates. According to the report:
Bassnan has many ties to the Saudi government, including past employment by the Saudi Arabian education mission. The FBI also received reports from individuals in the Muslim community alleging that Bessan might be a Saudi intelligence officer According to a CIA memo, Bassnan has reportedly received funding, and possibly a fake passport, from Saudi government officials, he and his wife have received financial support from the Saudi ambassador to the United States and his wife.
On at least one occasion, Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar‘s account. According to the FBI, on May 14, 1998, Bassnan cashed the check from Bandar in the amount of $15,000. Bassnan’s wife also received at least one check directly from Bandar. She also received one additional check from Bandar’s wife which she cashed on January 8, 1998 for $10,000.
While such statements might pique someone’s curiosity to learn more about this connection between President Bush’s friend, Prince Bandar, and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent providing support for hijackers in San Diego, Congress wasn’t interested. As the Committees stated in their report:
It should be clear that this joint inquiry has made no final determinations as to the reliability or sufficiency of the information regarding these issues that we found contained in FBI and CIA documents.
U.S. mainstream media coverage of the release was minimal and it downplayed the significance of what was contained in the document. CNN’s report quoted Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein:
Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, the chair and top Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement that they agreed with the decision to declassify the report. But they cautioned, “These pages include unconfirmed allegations and raw reporting and have been the subject of conspiracy theories for years.”
Ain’t it funny how you will never discover the truth of a matter if you don’t investigate it? Not investigating also enables you to brand anyone who raises questions about the matter a “conspiracy theorist.”
The FBI and CIA gave Congress what it asked for, but Congress didn’t like what it saw, so it did NOT order a follow-up investigation into the activities of the Saudi state actors referenced in the report, including Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud.
Instead, Congress redacted the 29 pages from its report and moved on to what it considered more important business—i.e., working with the Bush Administration to prepare for the invasion of Iraq the following spring.
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