“You can’t provide the money for terrorists and then say, “I don’t have anything to do with what they're doing,’” Bob Kerrey, the former senator and a member of the 9/11 Commission, told 60 Minutes recently. “In general, the 9/11 Commission did not get every single detail of the conspiracy. We didn’t. We didn’t have the time, we didn’t have the resources. We certainly didn’t pursue the entire line of inquiry in regard to Saudi Arabia.”
Even then, there’s some information about Saudi involvement that has been gathered but is not yet public. A 2002 joint congressional investigation into intelligence failures ahead of 9/11 produced 28 pages that remain classified, and which are said to shed light on potential Saudi involvement in the attacks—perhaps by lower-level Saudi officials, or by elements of the government but not the government “as an institution.” Former Senator Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who chaired the Senate side of the committee, has been pushing for years for the 28 pages to be released. Graham (no relation to this reporter) has fought a long and somewhat lonely battle, in part because he believes it could affect the victims’ families’ quest for restitution.
“No. 1, I think the American people deserve to know the truth of what has happened in their name,” he said last year. “No. 2 is justice for these family members who have suffered such loss and thus far have been frustrated largely by the U.S. government in their efforts to get some compensation.”
The pages were classified at the request of the FBI when produced. Graham and then-Representative Porter Goss, who was the House chair of the committee (and later directed the CIA) suggest there’s been no good reason given for keeping the document secret. Since the documents are classified, Graham won’t say what’s in them, but he has promised “a real smoking gun.”
Obama adviser Ben Rhodes, who worked on the 9/11 Commission, described how Saudis were involved to David Axelrod recently:
Without getting into that specifically because that's still classified, I think that it's complicated in the sense that, it's not that it was Saudi government policy to support Al Qaeda, but there were a number of very wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia who would contribute, sometimes directly, to extremist groups, sometimes to charities that were kind of, ended up being ways to launder money to these groups. So, a lot of the funding—and you know Bin Laden himself was a wealthy Saudi—so a lot of the money, the seed money if you will, for what became Al Qaeda, came out of Saudi Arabia.
Between the increased tension with the Saudis, Obama’s upcoming trip, and immunity bill, there seems to be greater pressure and awareness to release the 28 pages now than ever before. Interestingly, the Saudis themselves have in the past backed those efforts. In 2003, then-Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal called for release so that Saudi Arabia could defend itself.