President Obama is facing rising pressure from the media and from Congress to declassify the remaining twenty-eight pages of the 9/11 Commission report, which purportedly document the links between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the nineteen hijackers behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The George W. Bush administration removed the pages, titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters” from the Joint Congressional Hearing on the attacks, leading many to suspect that they were hiding information the would be embarrassing for Bush and his cronies.
The Bush family in particular has very close ties to the authoritarian despots in Riyadh, as documented by journalist Craig Unger in his book House of Bush, House of Saud. “There is a fundamental piece of logic missing in the American conversation … the Saudis played a big role in terrorism, that the Bushes have very, very close to the Saudis both in business terms, personal terms, and in public policy. And it has a resulted in a non-cracking down in the Saudi role on terror.” Dick Cheney, for his part, has a long history with the kingdom himself. He directed the staging of the Gulf War from Saudi Arabia as the Secretary of Defense to Bush Senior and as CEO of Halliburton, which received billions in oil contracts from the Kingdom.
The pressure to release the documents comes from both sides of the aisle. “There’s nothing in it about national security. It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis” says Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who says that he has read the documents. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MASS) told the New Yorker “that the document is ‘stunning in its clarity,’ and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. ‘Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report.'”
Interestingly, Riyadh is also demanding that the papers be released. “Twenty-eight blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people. Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages” said Prince Bandar bin Sultan, issuing the standard denial that all expected to hear.
Coming ten days before President Obama is set to visit the seat of Saudi power in Riyadh, the twenty-eight pages could be the motivator for a drastic – and needed – reevaluation of our relationship with the deceitful and repressive Saudis. The House of Saud is one of the biggest obstacles to democracy and peace in the Middle East. They export the draconian tenets of Wahhabi Islam across the world and are the primary source of funding for Sunni radical groups across the world.
Emails from Wikileaks reveal that in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that “More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, and [Pakistani terrorists Lashkar e-Tayyiba] and other terrorist groups. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide” – which didn’t stop her from arranging the sale of $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to the Kingdom.
As those jets are now being used to commit horrific war crimes against the people of Yemen, it is far beyond time that we reassess our relationship with the Kingdom. The dependency on Saudi oil that we once had is gone; the time of fossil fuels is coming to an end and it would be in the best interests of the United States to stop funding the petromonarchy and to take the lead in developing sustainable, non-carbon based energy sources.
Release those papers, Mr. Obama. The families of the 9/11 victims deserve to know who killed their relatives, and the American people deserve to know if one of our so-called “allies” was complicit in the slaughter of three thousand of our citizens. We demand to know if a sitting president and his administration deliberately withheld that information from the public – and if those traitors were complicit in the cover-up of this information.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.