President Joe Biden on Friday ordered the declassification of some documents related to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a helpful signal to the families of the victims who have sought records in the hope of trapping the Saudi government. Is.
The order is coming in just over a week before the 20th anniversary. attacks , The key issue in the years-long feud between the government and families is what kind of intelligence can be leaked about the attacks. The controversy erupted last month when many relatives, survivors and first responders came out against Biden’s participation in the 9/11 memorial service if the documents remain classified.
Biden On Friday, he said he was improving the campaign’s commitment by ordering a declassification review and vowed that his administration would “engage with members of this community with respect.”
The executive order states that “the major events in question occurred two decades ago or more ago, and they are concerned at a tragic moment that resonates in American history and in the lives of many Americans.” “Therefore, it is important to ensure that the United States Government maximizes transparency, relying on ratings only when appropriate and necessary.”
The order directs the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies to initiate a declassification review, and requires that declassified documents be issued within the next six months.
Brett Egelson, whose father, Bruce, was a World Trade Center victim and a lawyer for other victims’ relatives, called the move an “important first step.” He said the families would take a closer look at the process to ensure that the Justice Department acts “in good faith”.
“The first test will be on 9/11, and the world will be watching. We look forward to personally thanking President Biden next week for joining us at Ground Zero to honor those who died or were injured 20 years ago.” Are included.
The Saudi government denies any involvement.
However, the practical effect of the executive order and any new documents that may come before it were not immediately clear. Public documents released over the past two decades, including the 9/11 Commission, detail several Saudi confusions but do not prove government involvement.
A long-running lawsuit in federal court in New York is aimed at holding the Saudi government accountable, and it is alleged that Saudi officials provided significant assistance to some hijackers before the attacks. The lawsuit was a major step forward this year with the interrogation of former Saudi officials under oath, and family members have long considered the disclosure of illegal documents an important step in making their case.
The Saudi government has denied any involvement in the attacks.
Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudis, as it were. Osama bin Laden, Of which Al Qaeda The network was behind the attacks. In particular, the investigation focuses on the support given to the first two hijackers to come to the United States, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Muhdir, including a Saudi citizen from the Saudi government who helped men find and lease apartments. Helped San Diego and the one that attracted the first FBI investigation.
Although many documents examining possible Saudi ties have been released, US officials have long considered other records highly sensitive to disclosure. On Thursday, the families of the victims and survivors urged the Justice Department’s Inspector General to investigate the FBI’s failure to find key pieces of evidence.
The Justice Department revealed last month that the FBI had recently completed an investigation into some of the 9/11 hijackers and possible accomplices, and that it was working to provide more information.
Under the terms of the executive order, the FBI has until September 11 to complete a declassification review of the documents from the investigation, which it called a “sub-file investigation.” Additional documents, including phone and bank records and reports with investigative findings, will be reviewed for disclosure over the next six months.