28 Pages In Sept. 11 Report Should Be Declassified, Ex-Sen. Graham Says
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks are awaiting a White House decision - whether to declassify 28 pages of documents from a report dealing with 9/11. The families hope these documents will support allegations of Saudi involvement with the hijackers. This matters right now because there's a bill before Congress that could allow the families to sue the Saudi government. Former Sen. Bob Graham co-chaired the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11 intelligence.
BOB GRAHAM: The reason why the 28 pages are so important is that they were the conclusion of the congressional inquiry into 9/11 as to how was that plot financed? Who paid for it? And while I can't discuss the details of that chapter, they point a strong finger at Saudi Arabia.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What kinds of connections are we talking about?
GRAHAM: What we do know publicly was that there were agents of the Saudi government which assisted at least two of the hijackers who ended up living in San Diego - provided them with financial support, with anonymity, with a place to live and with flight lessons, and protected them for, in one case, over a year. And the FBI has turned over to a federal court, through a Freedom of Information Act case, 80,000 pages involving an investigation that took place in Sarasota, Fla. of the relationship between Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 19 hijackers and two of his henchmen, and a prominent Saudi family, which had lived in Sarasota for six years - two weeks before 9/11 left under what were described as urgent conditions to return to Saudi Arabia, creating the inference that they were tipped off and decided that they would be better off someplace than in Sarasota when 9/11 occurred.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Another investigation, though, the 9/11 Commission found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution individually funded any of the 9/11 attackers.
GRAHAM: It was a very crafted sentence that said something to the effect that there was no evidence that the senior leadership of Saudi Arabia was involved. That...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's the royal family.
GRAHAM: ...That leaves a lot of range for other representatives of the Saudi government to have played a role. And Saudi Arabia uses the concept of sovereign immunity - that is, the principle that you can't sue the king because the king can do no wrong - to apply to virtually every entity within Saudi Arabia.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you believe that consecutive administrations have been protecting the Saudi royal family against the interests of United States citizens?
GRAHAM: Yes. And I think it's been more than a cover up. I think it's been what I call aggressive deception. There are instances in which the FBI has publicly released statements which I know from personal experience were untrue. They stated that in this Sarasota situation - that they had completed the investigation, that the investigation determined that there were no connections between the hijackers and the prominent Saudi family, and that they had turned over all of this information to both the congressional inquiry and the 9/11 Citizens Commission. I know for a fact that none of those three statements are true.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let me get this right, sir. You are alleging that the FBI deliberately lied about this issue and that there has been a cover-up.
GRAHAM: It's more than a cover-up. The FBI misstated what is in their own records relative to the situation in Sarasota.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do you think needs to happen?
GRAHAM: I think we need to have a general re-opening of the investigation into 9/11. Both the congressional and the 9/11 Commission operated under tight time restraints, which precluded the full inquiry that needs to be held when the 9/11 issue is reopened.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Former Sen. Bob Graham was chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chair of the joint inquiry into 9/11 intelligence. Thank you so much, sir.
GRAHAM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.