The 9/11 Commission Report & The 28 Pages

The 9/11 Commission Report:

The 9/11 Commission Report, formally named Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, is the official report of the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It was prepared by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (informally sometimes known as the “9/11 Commission” or the “Kean/Hamilton Commission”) at the request of United States president George W. Bush and Congress, and is available to the public for sale or free download.

The commission was established on November 27, 2002 (442 days after the attack) and their final report was issued on July 22, 2004. The report was originally scheduled for release on May 27, 2004, but a compromise agreed to by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert allowed a sixty-day extension through July 26.

The commission interviewed over 1,200 people in 10 countries and reviewed over two and a half million pages of documents, including some closely guarded classified national security documents. The commission also relied heavily on the FBI’s PENTTBOM investigation. Before it was released by the commission, the final public report was screened for any potentially classified information and edited as necessary.

After releasing the report, commission chair Thomas Kean declared that both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were “not well served” by the FBI and CIA.

In addition to identifying intelligence failures occurring before the attacks, the report provided evidence of the following:

– Airport security footage of the hijackers as they passed through airport security

– Excerpts from the United Airlines Flight 93 cockpit voice recording, which recorded the sounds of the hijackers in the cockpit and the passengers’ attempts to regain control

– Eyewitness testimony of passengers as they described their own final moments to family members and authorities on airphones and cellphones from the cabins of doomed airliners

The commission also concluded 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the attacks were from Saudi Arabia, but the commission “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization” to conspire in the attacks, or that it funded the attackers even though the “report identifies Saudi Arabia as the primary source of al-Qaeda funding”. (A 28-page section of an earlier, different 9/11 report has been in the news lately (2016), one with claims of greater Saudi involvement that, it’s claimed, “did not withstand deeper scrutiny” by the Commission.) Mohamed Atta, the leader of the attacks, was from Egypt. Two hijackers were from the United Arab Emirates, and one was from Lebanon. According to the commission, all 19 hijackers were members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, led by Osama bin Laden. In addition, while meetings between al-Qaeda representatives and Iraqi government officials had taken place, the panel had no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had assisted al-Qaeda in preparing or executing the 9/11 attacks.

The commission’s final report also offered new evidence of increased contact between Iran and al-Qaeda. The report contains information about how several of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iran, and indicates that officials in Iran did not place entry stamps in their passports. However, according to the report (Chapter 7), there is no evidence that Iran was aware of the actual 9/11 plot. Iran has since implemented several widely publicized efforts to shut down al-Qaeda cells operating within its country.

The commission report chose to place blame for failure to notify the military squarely upon the FAA. Ben Sliney, FAA operations manager at Herndon, Virginia, and Monte Belger, FAA Acting Deputy Administrator on 9/11 both stated to the commission that military liaisons were present and participating in Herndon’s response as the events of 9/11 unfolded. Sliney stated that everyone who needed to be notified, including the military, was.

In addition to its findings, the report made extensive recommendations for changes that can be made to help prevent a similar attack. These include the creation of a National Intelligence Director over both the CIA and the FBI, and many changes in border security and immigration policy.

Read The Full Report Here: The 9/11 Commission Report (PDF)

The 28 Pages:

The 28 Pages refers to a section at the end of the 2002 Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that contains details of foreign state sponsor support for Al-Qaeda prior to the attack and the Saudi connection to the hijackers. The pages explain that some of the September 11 hijackers received assistance and financial support from individuals connected to the Saudi Arabian government, including Saudi intelligence officers, embassy staff, and members of the Saudi royal family.

In 2016, following a declassification review, the Obama Administration approved the declassification of the partially redacted 28 Pages, the Joint Inquiry’s only wholly classified section. The document was then sent to congressional leadership and on July 15, 2016, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence approved publication of the newly declassified section.

The Bush administration classified the 28 pages of the congressional report, allegedly to “protect intelligence sources.”

In July 2003 Senator Bob Graham pressed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to release the material, per its authority under Senate Resolution 400, which established the Committee in 1976. However, the committee did not vote and his request was merely denied. Then-chair Senator Pat Roberts, (R-Kan.) and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) wrote Graham that “it is our view that release of additional information from Part Four could adversely affect ongoing counterterrorism efforts.” Graham later said the response showed that the Intelligence Committee had shown “a strong deference to the executive branch.” In the same month, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) joined approximately 42 Democratic senators in calling on President Bush to release the 28-page section which was censored for “national security reasons”. Senator Graham stated the refusal “is a continuation of the pattern of the last seven months-a pattern of delay and excessive use of national security standards to deny the people the knowledge of their vulnerability.”

In December 2013 Representatives Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) proposed Congress pass a resolution urging United States President Barack Obama to declassify all of the 2002 report. House Resolution 428 of the 113th Congress had 10 co-sponsors as of September 2014.

Family members of September 11 victims have said that President Obama told them both individually and in a group setting that he would release the documents so they could know the truth. The documents also would be used to support lawsuits against Saudi Arabia for complicity in the attacks and deaths. Families have worked closely with Representatives Jones and Lynch on de-classifying the documents. In June 2014 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the families, as well as insurance companies which paid large claims after the attacks, could sue Saudi Arabia. This permitted attorneys to begin collecting documents and deposing witnesses. In April 2016, it was reported that the Obama administration was “likely” to release “at least part” of the 28-page section and that a final decision on whether or not to release the documents would be made by June.

Saudis have welcomed declassification of the 28 pages because they argue that it would “allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner”.

Read The 28 Pages Here: The 28 Pages (PDF)