Former Senate Intelligence Chair Graham Seeks More 9/11, Saudi Disclosures
Former Senator Bob Graham urged pressure on Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers at an NPC Newsmaker event on Aug. 31. The public should pressure Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers, said former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., Wednesday to a National Press Club Newsmaker audience.
The U.S. House of Representatives, he said, must enable 9/11 victim families to sue Saudi entities suspected of complicity. “These almost 3,000 American victims and their families deserve justice,” said Graham, shown in a photo image by Noel St. John. “They deserve the right, in a court of law, to present the evidence they have gathered, which is voluminous, that will link the kingdom and other entities of Saudi Arabia to the 19 hijackers.”
The Senate unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in May. The legislation would enable terrorism victims to overcome court rulings backed by the Executive Branch that Saudi defendants receive sovereign immunity from disclosure and liability. The bill is stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.
Graham, a three-term Florida Democrat who retired in 2005 from the Senate, said in remarks broadcast by C-SPAN and NPR that the House has not scheduled a vote on JASTA. Get involved in that fight, he urged the audience.
Saudi officials and some of their defenders in U.S. government have denied Saudi assistance for the hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.
In 2002, the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 Attacks co-chaired by Graham published a comprehensive study. It included “28 pages” that reported who assisted the hijackers, primarily three based in San Diego.
Graham also called for release of thousands of pages of still-suppressed FBI reports being sought under Freedom of Information Act litigation regarding the other 16 hijackers.
Meanwhile, a statement by the Saudi embassy in Washington “expresses once again its strong disappointment at Senator Bob Graham's continued advocacy of the idea that the government of Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001.”
U.S. authorities have tried to restrict information about Saudi involvement, said Graham, who alleged the FBI has provided “incorrect” information on crucial matters.
“Why are you doing this?” he quoted the FBI’s deputy director as asking him in 2011. “Get a life.”
During Q&A, Graham explained why the bureau resists disclosure.
“One, it is not doing it on its own,” Graham responded. “The pattern of behavior from the FBI, CIA, State Department, Justice Department, Treasury Department has all been consistent. I think the message has gone out from the White House that we do not want any information relative to Saudi Arabia to be released.”
The reasons, he said, include the longstanding U.S. alliance with the Saudi royal family.
But the public needs to learn more, he said. To that end, he distributed complimentary copies of his latest book, co-authored with Chris Hand, “America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall – and Win.”
U.S. government failure to disclose Saudi training of terrorists undermines national security, Graham argued. He praised journalists who have exposed details about the hijackers, and he warned others against complacency.
“We are developing,” he said, “a democracy of spectators who think their role is to sit in the stands and watch the game of democracy, not be a direct participant.”
“I believe our democracy is in trouble,” he continued. But he predicted that lawmakers, if put to a vote, would not want the taint of covering-up such a pivotal event as 9/11.
Major 9/11 Research and Civic Action Conference Scheduled Sept. 10 to 11 in New York City
Justice In Focus: 9/11 2016 - A Weekend Symposium in NYC, Sept. 10-11, 2016 at Cooper Union, 7 E. 7th St., New York, NY. Featured speakers include Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, (shown in a file photo), the famed anti-Mafia prosecutor and the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, plus the renowned human rights activists, litigators and authors Daniel P. Sheehan and William F. Pepper. Ticket information and other details.
The co-sponsors are Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the Lawyers Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, 9/11 Truth Action Project, NY State Legislative Action Project for 9/11 Justice, and the 9/11 Consensus Panel for a weekend symposium on the pursuit of 9/11 Justice 15 years after the fateful events of September 11, 2001.
Hundreds of researchers and activists will come together in the historic Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City. Together, in this 800-seat auditorium, they will discuss the state of ongoing efforts to expose the truth and obtain justice for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent victims at the World Trade Center and that continue to serve as the pretext for the Global War on Terrorism.
The conference will feature keynote addresses from renowned legal figures, as well as panel discussions on the role of the Deep State and the significance of the recently declassified 28 Pages, presentations by movement leaders and researchers, and day-long evidentiary hearings on the forensics evidence and eyewitness testimony at World Trade Center’s destruction, which will be conducted by a panel of esteemed lawyers.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, If any of my readers are still brainwashed about 9/11, they need to attend this conference, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (conservative scholar and former Reagan administration assistant Treasury secretary and shown in file photo) Sept. 5, 2016. Tickets are still available.
A 2-Day Symposium | Sept. 10-11, 2016 | Cooper Union New York City.
Fifteen years after the events of 9/11, wars and cultural conflicts caused by the U.S. response and questionable alliances continue to create global tensions. Furthermore, questions of how the attacks took place continue to surface. For these reasons, a historic conference will be held to highlight the blatant discrepancies between the official narrative and the science-based evidence of the most consequential event of our time.
A stellar lineup of credentialed experts will also review new evidence of a cover up and raise the bar – literally, with an unprecedented level of legal analysis. As you'll see, this event has an international component, since 9/11 was such a world-changing event. Full details and tickets are at www.911justiceinfocus.org.
C-SPAN Video of Bob Graham Remarks and Rush Transcript
C-SPAN, Former Sen. Bob Graham at National Press Club, Staff coverage, Aug. 31, 2016 (video).
Introduction by National Press Club President Thomas Burr (Excerpted from prepared remarks):
Welcome to the National Press Club. My name is Thomas Burr. I'm the Washington correspondent for The Salt Lake Tribune and the 109th President of the National Press Club. Our guest today is former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee before and after Sept. 11, 2001.
I would like to welcome our Public Radio and C-SPAN audiences and I want to remind you that you can follow the action on Twitter using the hashtag NPCLive. That’s NPCLive.
We are now less than two weeks away from the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which cost the lives of more than 3,000 Americans and launched America into war in two countries.
Just last month, the United States government released 28 redacted pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. Our guest, Sen. Graham, had repeatedly called for the release of those pages and I'm guessing will argue today for more transparency into the worst terrorist attack on United States soil in its history.
Sen. Graham, who served 18 years in the Senate, is the co-author of America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall – and Win. He is also a former two-term governor of Florida.
Since leaving the Senate in 2005, Graham has been chair of the Congressional Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, a member of the Congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and co-chair of the Presidential Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Florida and Harvard Law School, he established the Center for Public Service at the University of Florida to enhance civic engagement and prepare the next generation of public and civic leaders.
Sen. Graham will offer some remarks and then we'll turn to questions where I will call on you and ask you to identify yourself and your news outlet.
Senator Graham (from C-SPAN's rush transcript, excerpt from the beginning):
Thank you for the opportunity to come back to the National Press Club. As has been said, on July 15, after some 14 years, the chapter of 28 pages from the final report of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 was released.
I want to recognize the role that a number of American journalists have played in achieving this objective. I will just focus on a few, but there were many who continue to bring to the attention the public -- to the public that they did not have the full information as to what had transpired from one of the most horrific days in American history.
Lucy Morgan of the Tampa Bay Times and Carl Hulse of the New York Times kept a regular reflection on reminding people that these pages were missing and their potential significance might be. Tony Summers (at left) and Dan Christiansen, journalist and blogger with the Florida Bulldog (shown at right), broke the story on Sarasota, which I will discuss in a moment. Finally, Howard Rosenberg was the producer of the "60 Minutes" segment that was in many ways the end of the withholding of the 28 pages.
The release of the pages received a variety of interpretations. There were some who said this confirms the Saudi link to the 9/11 hijackers. The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said the matter is now finished, and the aspersions cast at Saudi Arabia for the last 14 years will end. I believe there is a different interpretation, and that is that this is removing the cork from the bottle.
There is a significant amount of information, which like the 28 pages, has been withheld, and that it was necessary to get this first block of material to the public in order to build the support that will be necessary for the balance of the material to flow.
The unanswered questions still remain largely unanswered. Did these 19 people, most of whom did not speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, most of whom were not well educated, did they carry out this sophisticated task alone, or did they have some form of support while they were in the United States? If the answer is they had some support, who provided that support?
A couple of contextual facts about the 28 pages. One, they were written in the fall of 2002. We know a lot more even in spite of the stringent efforts to withhold than we did in the fall of 2002. Second, most of the information in the 28 pages was derived from three of the 19 hijackers, the three who lived in San Diego.
The other 16 hijackers lived across the country, primarily in places like Florida, Virginia, and New Jersey. There were investigations conducted in each of those, and other places, which have also been classified and withheld. Now that the bottle is open, what is likely to pour forth?
Saudi Denial of Complicity
Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia Rejects Conspiracy Thinking on 9/11, Aug. 31, 2016. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expresses once again its strong disappointment at Senator Bob Graham's continued advocacy of the idea that the government of Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Saudi Arabia has long called for the release of the classified 28 pages from the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 because we were convinced that they would reveal what they ultimately did reveal: that neither the Saudi government, nor senior Saudi officials, nor any person acting on behalf of the Saudi government provided any support or encouragement for these attacks.
That is also the overwhelming consensus of the American intelligence community and senior U.S. intelligence officials, both those who were active at that time and those who are active today.
In 2004, the 9/11 Commission concluded, "We have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization [Al-Qaeda]." In 2005, the CIA investigation that looked into the content of the '28 pages,' clearly stated: "There is no evidence that the Saudi government or members of the Saudi royal family knowingly provided support for the attacks of 11 September 2001 or that they had foreknowledge of terrorist operations in the Kingdom or elsewhere."
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said in July following the release of the 28 pages, "For 13 years…people like [former] Senator Bob Graham from Florida, who led this inquiry, have said that the 28 pages have damning evidence regarding Saudi Arabia's 'complicity' in 9/11…Meanwhile, the report itself says we don't know if the links are valid. We cannot investigate these things. We can't come to conclusions. And when the appropriate agencies—the 9/11 commission and the FBI and CIA—investigated those leads and came out with conclusions that say there's no 'there' there, he [Sen. Graham] continued to mislead the public…"
Saudi Arabia has always pledged that it will track down any lead, follow any bit of credible information, and pursue any individual who may have been involved or complicit in the attacks. That pledge stands. Our cooperation with the United States in combating terror is close, strong and well-established, as is our friendship, which has endured for more than 80 years.
Related News Coverage
Roll Call, Obama Vetoes Terrorism Bill as Override Votes Loom, John T. Bennett, Sept. 23, 2016. Democrats are sympathetic to his concerns, but likely to vote with GOP. President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed a bill that would allow families of the victims of terrorist attacks in the United States to sue foreign governments believed to be linked to the strikes, setting up a difficult election-year decision for congressional Democrats. Obama cited concerns that the legislation, which passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, could prompt other nations to pass look-alike laws, leading to more lawsuits and inconsistent standards for what constitutes state support for terrorist attacks. Proponents, however, call it "narrowly" crafted to guard against such things.
Aides say Obama fully understands why convincing Democrats to block an override of his veto will likely be tough in an election year. "The president's not blind to the politics of the situation," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday. "The president understands that the talking points that are being prepared for the proponents of this bill have … political upside," Earnest said. "But if we're focused on the substantive long-term impact on our nation's national security … that's what's driving the president's decision to veto this bill. Not because it's politically convenient. It's not."
The Senate's No. 3 Democrat, Charles E. Schumer of New York, a co-sponsor of the measure, called the veto a "a disappointing decision," predicting that it will be "swiftly and soundly overturned in Congress."
“If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation," Schumer said in a statement. "If they were culpable in 9/11, they should be held accountable. The families of the victims of 9/11 deserve their day in court, and justice for those families shouldn’t be thrown overboard because of diplomatic concerns.”
Obama used up every day he had under law from the time the House unanimously passed the bill, formally dubbed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” to reject it. The move now sets up a decision for House and Senate leaders on when they will hold override votes.
“Now that we have received the veto message from the president, the Senate will consider [an override vote] as soon as practicable in this work period," said David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement on Friday.
Indian American Times, Former Senate Intelligence Chair Graham Seeks More 9/11, Saudi Disclosures, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 9, 2016. The former chairman of the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee called for more pressure on Congress to disclose Saudi Arabian ties with 9/11 hijackers in a speech this week that marked growing criticism of the kingdom, the White House, and official US investigators. As the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks approaches, former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida urged his audience at the Washington, DC-based National Press Club Aug. 31 to persuade the US House of Representatives to enable 9/11 victim families to sue Saudi entities suspected of complicity.
Graham’s speech attacking the White House, the State Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shows the increasing prominence of US critics of the Saudi kingdom and its U.S. government defenders. Graham, a Harvard-trained veteran of 18 years in the senate and eight years as Florida’s governor, attacked in his usual low-key manner the FBI’s investigation of the attacks. He called it secretive and at times as “incorrect.”
National Press Club, Former Senate Intelligence Chair Graham Seeks More 9/11, Saudi Disclosures, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 1, 2016. Former Senator Bob Graham urged pressure on Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers at an NPC Newsmaker event on Aug. 31.
Bob Graham (File photo by Village Square via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
WhoWhatWhy, Coverup of Saudi 9/11 Connection Continues, Charges Graham, Celia Wexler, Sept. 1, 2016. The co-chair of a Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 terror attacks charged that the US government continues to turn a blind eye to evidence that the government of Saudi Arabia may have aided the terrorists.
The July release of 28 pages — still substantially redacted — of previously classified material from the Joint Inquiry report of 2002 does not put the matter to rest, said former Senator Bob Graham, (D-FL) at the National Press Club on Thursday. On the contrary, he said, those pages raise significant new questions. Harassed at one point by the FBI, his investigation blocked by the Department of Justice and the State Department, Graham urged the media to support his struggle.
Of the 19 hijackers, 15 were Saudi citizens. Still, US officials, the Saudi government, and the chairs of a separate commission that looked into the attacks all have insisted allegations about Saudi involvement have been pursued, and no evidence has been found to support them.
The former senator said he can understand why President George W. Bush “submerged” information about Saudi connections to the hijackers. Bush was intent on invading Iraq, and linking Iraq — falsely — to 9/11. Blaming Saudi Arabia, Graham said, would have interfered with that narrative. The US had maintained a long relationship with the royal family, he added, one that was conditioned on the US providing security to the Saudi regime — and the Saudis providing oil to the US. President Bush is shown with the late Saudi King Abdullah.
But Graham can’t explain why the Obama administration has continued to stonewall. He concedes that the US might be concerned that investigating Saudi involvement would make an already unstable Middle East even more unstable. But he said that any real relationship between two countries “needs honesty” if it is to be “positive and fruitful.”
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud receives President Barack Obama in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 20, 2016 (EPA/Saudi Press Agency)
Tampa Bay Times, Bob Graham: Government Needs To Learn More About 9/11 Attacks, Alex Leary, Aug. 31, 2016. Former Sen. Bob Graham this morning sharply criticized government secrecy over 9/11, saying the recent release of 28 pages of classified information is only an opening into what the American public deserves to know. "The legacy of Barack Obama is going to be stained," when it becomes clear how much material remains hidden from view, Graham said at the National Press Club. In particular, he said, much remains unanswered about a Saudi family that lived in Sarasota and suddenly vanished around the attack. Graham was a leading figure in getting the release of the 28 pages, and he credited journalists for helping raise the issue. "Get a life," he said the deputy director of the FBI once told him.
Despite the release, Graham said more pressure needs to be applied so tens of thousands of pages of additional investigative material comes out. He also called on Congress to approve the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, designed to help families of the nearly 3,000 victims. Having already passed the Senate, the legislation would allow families to sue the Saudi government. Graham said government attempts to conceal links between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government adds to public cynicism. "We are developing a democracy of spectators."
28Pages.org, Graham: Many More Documents on Saudi Links to 9/11 Still Secret, Staff report, Aug. 31, 2016. In an appearance this morning at the National Press Club, former Senate intelligence committee chairman Bob Graham said the July release of 28 pages from a 2002 congressional inquiry was just the first step toward gaining full transparency on the U.S. government’s investigation of Saudi links to the 9/11 attacks.
“This is removing the cork from the bottle,” said Graham. “There is a significant amount of information which, like the 28 pages, has been withheld and it was necessary to get this first block of material to the public in order to build the support that will be necessary for the balance of the material to flow.” Among the countless documents still hidden from public view are those relating to the FBI’s investigation of a wealthy, well-connected Saudi family in Sarasota that reportedly had many contacts with future 9/11 attackers before suddenly vacating its home days before the attacks.
National Press Club, Sen. Bob Graham to Discuss Recently Released Classified Documents Detailing Saudi Involvement in 9/11 Plot and What Still Needs to be Revealed at Newsmaker Aug. 31, Jamie Horwitz, Aug. 29, 2016. Last month, the Administration and Congress released a redacted version of the missing 28 pages from the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. These formerly classified documents reinforce the belief that the 19 hijackers — most of whom spoke little English, had limited education and had never before visited the United States — did not act alone in perpetrating the sophisticated 9/11 plot. It suggests a strong linkage between those terrorists [including Mohammad Atta, shown in a file photo] and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saudi charities, and other Saudi stakeholders.
On Aug. 31, at 10 am, in the National Press Club’s White Room, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (shown in a file photo from a TV appearance) will discuss what the documents reveal and what still needs to be learned nearly 15 years after the 9/11 attack. National Press Club President Thomas Burr will moderate.
Graham, during his three terms representing Florida, served on the Intelligence Committee for 10 years and as its chair from 2001-2003. He also was the co-chair of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attack of September 11, 2001.
During Wednesday’s Newsmaker news conference Graham also will discuss the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which is designed to help families of the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11 seek justice against Saudi entities. JASTA could provide an additional window into the activities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda and the 19 hijackers.
The Senate has passed JASTA unanimously but the legislation has not come up for a vote in the House. Since leaving the Senate, Graham has spoken frequently about empowering citizens to be active participants rather than tranquil spectators. This is the subject of a soon-to-be-released book co-authored with Chris Hand entitled America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall – and Win.
As with all Newsmaker events, this forum is open to credentialed media and Press Club members, free of charge. No advance registration is required.
Washington Post, Congress releases long-classified '28 pages' on alleged Saudi ties to 9/11, Karen DeYoung, Karoun Demirjian and Adam Goldman, July 15, 2016. A long-classified document, detailing suspected connections between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 2001 attacks, was released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee after being redacted by U.S. intelligence. The document, referred to as the “28-pages” throughout a years-long battle over whether it should be made public, had taken on a near-mythic status. Victim families and some lawmakers had pushed for the release, charging that the government had tried to cover up possible Saudi links to the attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
But the pages, part of a 2002 joint inquiry by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees into the al-Qaeda plot, do not appear to add significantly to information collected in subsequent investigations, including the 9/11 Commission report, published in 2004, and numerous other documents that have since been made public.
Washington Post, White House says 28 pages of 9/11 report show no evidence of Saudi role, Josh Earnest (White House spokesman), video, July 15, 2016. U.S. intelligence officials have finished reviewing 28 classified pages of the official report on the Sept. 11 attacks and they show no evidence of Saudi complicity, says White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. (Reuters)
Washington Post, The mystery surrounding 28 pages said to show links between 9/11 plotters and Saudi Arabia, Adam Taylor, July 15, 2016. What is the official line on the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks? Of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia. They were all affiliated with al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden, the scion of a wealthy and connected Saudi family. The Saudi royal family also has been accused of tolerating extremist clerics within the kingdom in exchange for domestic stability and political support.
Florida Bulldog, The release of the 28 pages isn’t the last word in the search for who was behind 9/11, Dan Christensen, July 15, 2016. It took 13 1/2 years and enormous public and political pressure to force President Obama to order today’s release of the suppressed chapter from Congress’s Joint Inquiry report about apparent Saudi support for the 9/11 suicide hijackers. The pages, however, were not released in full. Nearly every page is speckled with black marks where information was redacted. In some cases, those deletions are of entire paragraphs, almost certainly meaning that controversy about the 28 pages will continue.