There are few tragedies in American history that are more course altering than the events of 9/11. While Americans remember every year the events of that day, the questions and mystery surrounding how such a terrible attack could have taken place seem to diminish as time goes by. Two members of Congress however, are trying desperately to bring the debate over how U.S. security was so grievously breached back into the forefront, according to an op-ed by Hoover Institution media fellow Paul Sperry.
Republican Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina and Democratic Representative Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts have proposed legislation that would force President Obama to declassify the entirety of the 2002 report: “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”
After the report was released, President Bush removed 28 pages on the grounds of national security. These two Congressmen recently read the classified pages and said they were “absolutely shocked” at how much foreign power was involved in 9/11.
According to the recent New York Post article, it isn’t hard to ascertain the nature of this foreign involvement. Open source memos from the CIA and the FBI both show that high level officials from Saudi Arabia, think diplomats and intelligence officers stationed throughout America, gave both financial and logistical aid to the hijackers leading up to the attacks.
In Sperry’s op-ed, he suggests that multiple Saudi officials living in the Beltway had interactions with the 9/11 hijackers. In 2001, Ambassador Prince Bandar was living at the Saudi Arabian embassy here in Washington with his wife. During the course of his time in the capital, Bandar gave a total of $130,000 to an agent who had set up base camps for the hijackers in San Diego, claiming it was a loan to the agent’s sick wife. There was such a flow of al Qaeda linked funds going through the Saudi embassy that the Riggs Bank of Washington dropped them as a client in 2004.
Meanwhile, the notorious Anwar al-Awlaki was heading up a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia that was also funded by the Saudi embassy. Awlaki helped the hijackers get housing and IDs during the time he was also lecturing at a Saudi think tank in Merrifield, Virginia.
The day before 9/11, a Saudi embassy official named Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Herndon hotel as the hijackers targeting the Pentagon, even though he had been staying at a different hotel down the road. While the FBI doesn’t know if a meeting ever took place, the circumstances are suspicious especially considering all the other evidence.
In the days following the attacks, the FBI escorted Ambassador Bandar and his family, as well members of the Bin Laden family and other high level Saudi officials out of the country and back to Saudi Arabia, no questions asked.
Paul Sperry’s op-ed isn’t the first time this theory of Saudi involvement in 9/11 has been perpetuated. Liberal director Michael Moore’s famous documentary investigation Fahrenheit 911 makes numerous suggestions that maintaining relations with Saudi Arabia was more important to the Bush Administration than finding out the truth about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Former Senator Bob Graham of Florida has also been penning op-eds since 2011 complaining about a cover-up over Saudi involvement in 9/11 and calling for an open investigation.
Any student of global affairs knows that Saudi Arabia and the United States have a close, strong relationship, ever since oil was first discovered there in 1931. As the importance of oil for the United States has grown over the years, this relationship has only become more and more crucial for the welfare of both states.
Following 9/11, the biggest threat to U.S.-Saudi relations was the public relations fallout from Americans learning that many of the hijackers were of Saudi origin. Saudi Arabia hired Washington based lobbying firm Patton Boggs and PR group Qorvis for over $15 million to promote that there was “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded al-Qaeda.”
I’ll be the first to admit that these reports and allegations make me uncomfortable. It’s unpleasant to think of the secrecy surrounding the major forces driving our international politics. However, Americans deserve full disclosure, particularly about an event that took so many lives and has become such a major event in the American psyche. While I don’t think President Obama would ever declassify this report, straining Saudi relations is far too dangerous a price to pay, I wish for more clarity.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from its original form to include more information and context regarding Paul Sperry’s op-ed in the New York Post.