Friday, July 22, 2016

Why were 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report classified for over 13 years?

    Friday, July 22, 2016   No comments

 ISR Weekly: A document that was classified by two U.S. administrations is finally out. The delay in releasing a document related to the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil by itself raised many concerns. The content, redacted still, though is damning to both the rulers of Saudi Arabia and U.S. officials. Below are excerpts from some media coverage of the release of the 28-pages.

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The long-classified document detailing possible connections between the government of Saudi Arabia and the Sept. 11 terrorist plot released on Friday is a wide-ranging catalog of meetings and suspicious coincidences.

It details contacts between Saudi officials and some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, checks from Saudi royals to operatives in contact with the hijackers and the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda militant’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing an Aspen, Colo., home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The document, 28 pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is also an unflattering portrayal of the kingdom’s efforts to thwart American attempts to combat Al Qaeda in the years before the attacks. NYT
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The classified 28 pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 report have finally been made public, although in redacted form. It took fourteen years for the public to see this document, which was classified by the Bush Administration.
The 28 Pages makes it clear that the hijackers had handlers who were reporting to, funded by and taking directions from figures at the highest levels of the Saudi government.  But to understand why that conclusion follows inescapably from the revelations in these pages, it is essential to  know how these lines of control work, both in intelligence agencies  in general and within the Saudi royal family in particular.
Together with what is already known, this document is explosive.
Reports related to the 28 Pages - as well as all US and foreign government talking points - have focused on two claims in order to discredit or minimize the 28 Page document:
1. The information contained within the 28 Page document is “raw” and unvetted.
2. There is no new information in the document.
Neither of these talking points is true. The 28 Page document has been classified for 14 years. In that time, many of the allegations contained within it have been leaked to the press, including FBI investigations of the allegations, the context of the allegations, as well as the confirmation of the allegations. The CIA has also leaked additional information related to this document. So while this document and the allegations within it may have been “raw” data in 2002, that is no longer the case.
The arguments that the 28 Pages provides no new information does not account for the new pieces of information that it does include as well as the context it provides.
The journalist concluded the following"
The 28 Page report is primarily focused on the San Diego cell of the 9/11 plot, with a few exceptions. There is no such in depth examination of Saudi government connections to the other 9/11 hijackers. Consider the case of the al-Hijji couple.
Yet even just based on the San Diego cell connections alone, there is concrete proof of Saudi government funding to the handlers of 9/11 hijackers as well who also happen to be Saudi intelligence officers.
1. Prince Bandar is implicated through financial support and through phone records to the handlers of the San Diego cell as well as other terrorist activity in Pakistan and Afghanistan. While some have argued that his financial support may be part of the alleged deal that Prince Turki made with Osama bin Laden (see background), the channels of funding do not match the alleged agreement and appear to be operation based rather than organization based - meaning - the funding is provided toward a specific group of people all working together on something rather than an ideological movement.
Many in the media have said there is no smoking gun in the 28 page document. If by smoking gun people want the type of evidence that would put Bandar and Atta in the same room together, then no such smoking gun will ever be discovered. That is not how intelligence operatives work. There are middlemen and the US government have identified five of them by name: Bayoumi, Bassnan, Hussayen, Thumiary, and al-Qudhaeein. Four out of the five have Saudi Government jobs as well as ties to 9/11 hijackers. Four of them also appear to be Saudi intelligence officers with Saudi Government jobs as their cover. Two of them got direct funding from Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa as well the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation (run by Prince Bandar’s father). As intelligence officers of the Saudi Government, they likely got funding from the GID (run by Prince Bandar’s brother-in-law/half cousin).  One of them got additional funding by an unidentified Saudi Prince within the circle of the King.  One of them reported directly to Bandar in his capacity as a Saudi Consulate employee. Three of them are tied through phone calls to the Saudi Embassy and other Saudi Government departments. All of them were protected by the Saudi Government. Add to this the several unnamed individuals who are linked to both the Saudi Embassy and the hijackers. Moreover, connections to Bandar appear in several terrorist suspect’s phonebooks.
Finally, Bandar’s promotion to the head of the GID in the three years after the 9/11 attacks also adds context. All of this together is a smoking gun that links one of the key Saudi Government officials and one of the highest ranking members of the Saudi Royal Family to terrorist activity. While this evidence does not prove that Bandar was involved in the 9/11 plot or even aware of it, it is enough evidence to warrant naming him a suspect.
2. Bayoumi, Bassnan, Hussayen, Thumiary and Qudhaeein as well as Abdullah (see Bayoumi in 28 pages above) should all be named as suspects and co-conspirators in the attacks of the 9/11. Along with the 15 hijackers of Saudi nationality, these six men make a total of 21 Saudi nationals involved either knowingly or unknowingly in the largest attack on US soil. 
3. The Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation is implicated in supporting the handlers of the 9/11 hijackers financially and structurally. While some may argue that the funding from the Ministry of Defense is part of protection money paid by Saudi Arabia via Prince Turki’s agreement (see background above), the financials are outside of the perimeters of the alleged agreement. Moreover, all of the human resources, covers, documents, etc., provided for the 9/11 hijackers show support for a specific operation rather than a larger, ideological movement.
4. Prince Sultan as head of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation may have not know what Bayoumi was up to, but he certainly had to have known who Bayoumi was. Moreover, since Sultan was not only head of the a Saudi Government agency that financed Bayoumi, but is also the father of Bandar - who in turn also financed Bayoumi - it defies logic that the two men had never discussed Bayoumi or questioned his activities.  Sultan’s promotion as the Crown Prince in 2005 also appears to provide context. There is enough evidence to warrant naming Prince Sultan a person of interest in the attacks of 9/11.
5. The Saudi GID is implicated in supporting the 9/11 plot financially and structurally. Four  Saudi intelligence officers have been identified as part of the plot to fund, train, and acclimate the hijackers to American society.  All four were provided with Saudi Government cover jobs.  Two were allegedly provided with falsified documents by the Saudi Government Two additional suspected Saudi intelligence officers were tied to two different incidents of casing/dry run. In addition, there is the matter of al-Hajjii, not named in the 28 Pages (or referenced, but redacted). That brings the total of known and suspected Saudi intelligence operatives to seven, in addition to the Saudi hijackers. All of these men were paid by the Saudi intelligence apparatus, which reported directly to Prince Turki. While not named directly in the 28 Page report, the role of the GID is clear. There is enough evidence to warrant naming Prince Turki a suspect in the attacks of 9/11.
5. An unnamed Saudi Royal provided funding to Bassnan. This person should be named a person of interest.
6. The Saudi Government’s refusal to share intelligence before 9/11 as well makes them a questionable ally. But their refusal to make available all of the suspects as well as protect the highest members of the Saudi Royal Family who may or may not be involved (although should be named suspects), makes them conspirators after the fact. The Saudi Government’s refusal to allow civil action against key suspects by the victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families demonstrates that Saudi Arabia is not an ally of the American people. The Saudi Government’s threats of undermining of US currency should the victims of 9/11 be allowed to take civil action further underscore that they are no friend or ally to the United States. Source of analysis
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U.S. government finally released 28 pages of a 2002 congressional report that detail possible ties between the Saudi Arabian government and the 9/11 hijackers.

The document lists various forms of assistance provided by Saudi agents to the hijackers, including help finding a flight school and various forms of financial support when the hijackers arrived in the United States. Many of the findings in the report have not been fully vetted as several of the Saudi agents named in the 28 pages have refused to cooperate.

But that has not stopped Saudi-funded lobbyists and media outlets from claiming that the disclosure of the 28 pages ends all speculation about the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 terror attacks. Several outlets controlled by Saudi Arabia’s vast public relations machine are trumpeting the document as a vindication that closes the door on any suggestion that the Saudi government had any ties to the 9/11 terrorists.

“The question of Saudi involvement in 9/11 should be entirely put to rest,” said Fran Townsend, a former Bush administration official, in a 28-pages-related video posted on social media this week. The video was produced by Focus Washington, an interview series managed by Qorvis MSL, a lobbying firm retained by the Saudi government to influence American policymakers. The Saudi Embassy Twitter account distributed the video.

    Watch: Frances Townsend on the release of the 28 pages https://t.co/vGcaCswgYI

    — Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) July 20, 2016

Other media outlets with ties to the Saudi government have used the 28 pages to dismiss concerns about Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Andrew Bowen, writing for al Arabiya, declares that the document ends any “conspiracy” that the Saudi government provided support to the hijackers. Another al Arabiya columnist, Turki Aldakhil, goes a step further, and in a piece about the 28 pages (“The Sept. 11 road began from Tehran”), attempts to claim that the declassified document should raise questions about Iran. The 28 pages, notably, does not include any information about Iran, and in contrast to Aldakhil’s claims, Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah is at war with al Qaeda.

Al Arabiya is an English language news outlet controlled by members of the Saudi Royal family. As we’ve reported, the outlet has responded quickly to other Saudi-related controversies to push stories that reflect a narrative promoted by the Saudi government. Source of analysis.



Ed Isr

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