On this 22nd anniversary of 9/11, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is demanding the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation turn over the complete, unredacted records of Saudi Arabia’s role in the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Johnson (pictured above), ranking member of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and subcommittee chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), are seeking a full explanation of any ongoing need for classification of any portions of these records.
In their letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, the senators note that since an earlier request for the records in July, “we have not received a single document or obtained an explanation for any of the hundreds of redactions that remain, despite the government’s recent declassification review.”
“Your failure to respond to our letter only adds to our concerns about the U.S. government’s longstanding refusal to provide full transparency to the American public, and particularly for the families of 9/11 victims, about Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks,” the letter states.
The Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been investigating Saudi Arabia’s attempts to influence U.S. affairs, particularly the “repressive” regime’s involvement in the world of professional golf.
Blumenthal and Johnson wrote that their latest inquiry only underscored, “yet again, the need need for transparency, particularly regarding Saudi Arabia’s connection to the 9/11 attacks.”
The Saudi government has long denied any involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks that toppled New York’s Twin Towers, blasted a fiery hole in the Pentagon and would have certainly claimed more than the nearly 3,000 lives stolen had it not been for the courageous actions of passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93.
But mounting evidence supports allegations that the powerful Middle East nation played a supporting role. Fifteen of the 19 Al Qaeda hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks, was a member of one of the country’s wealthiest families.
“Immediately after the attacks, the Bush administration downplayed the Saudi connection and suppressed evidence that might link powerful Saudis to the funding of Islamic extremism and terrorism. The Bush White House didn’t want to upset its relationship with one of the world’s largest oil-producing nations, which was also an American ally with enormous political influence in Washington, and much of what the FBI discovered about possible Saudi links to the attacks remains secret even today,” The Intercept reported in a piece headlined 9/11 and the Saudi Connection, published on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
“Two decades later, however, glimpses of material that have become public provide mounting evidence that senior Saudi officials, including one diplomat in the Saudi Embassy in Washington, may in fact have indirectly provided assistance for two of the Al Qaeda hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who were the first of the hijackers to arrive in the United States in 2000 and lived for about a year and a half in San Diego beforehand,” the news outlet reported.
Johnson’s subcommittee insists it’s time for the records to be fully open.
The federal law enforcement agencies have been warned.
“Should the DOJ and the FBI fail to provide the briefing and continue to fail to provide the requested unredacted documents by this deadline [Thursday, Sept. 14], the Subcommittee will be forced to consider the use of the other tools at its disposal to ensure compliance,” the bi-partisan letter states.
One of said tools could be the threat of a subpoena or a contempt of congress charge, threats the recalcitrant FBI and Justice Department have become quite familiar with.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “U.S. Senator Ron Johnson” by Sen. Ron Johnson.