- - Sunday, July 17, 2016


The U.S. House Intelligence Committee finally released 28 pages of the long-suppressed findings of its investigation into the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, and the interesting stuff appears to have been written between the lines. A reasonably talented sixth-grader can connect some of the dots.

Passages in the report, classified by both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations until pressure by the families of Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001, finally forced the disclosure, say that Saudi nationals connected to the government in Riyadh and even the royal Saudi family, may have aided the hijackers who seized control of the airliners they piloted into the Trade Center.

The report was released on Friday, the day of the week that governments reserve for disclosing information they had rather not disclose, in hopes that the disclosures will get lost in the events of the weekend, such as reports of a weekend coup in Turkey. Right on cue, top U.S. intelligence officials, some of whom work closely with Saudi counterparts, said they didn’t consider the report “accurate or reliable.” Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sprinkled more cold water. The 28 pages do not “put forward vetted conclusions,” he said, “but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the committee.”

Later on Friday, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence weighed in with even stronger language warning everyone not to take seriously the conclusions in the 28 pages. “There is no evidence that either the Saudi government or members of the Saudi royal family knowingly provided support for the attacks of Sept. 11. 2001, or that they had foreknowledge of terrorist operations in the Kingdom or elsewhere.” This is not as reassuring as the authors of the report intended; note the weasel words, “knowingly” and “foreknowledge.”

Some families of those killed on Sept. 11, noting that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, observed that organizations and wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia financed certain of the hijackers, and that the government and the royal family, which for all intents and purposes are the same thing, declined effectively to crack down effectively on Islamic militants.

For their part, the Saudis eagerly quote CIA Director John Brennan, who told a Saudi interviewer in June that the report was only “a preliminary review” and “people shouldn’t take [the report] as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks.” He conceded, however, that the report shows “it was very unfortunate that these attacks took place.” He’s all heart, the director.

A White House spokesman on Friday said “we do not think” the 28 pages shed new light on Sept. 11, but acknowledged that “it took quite some time” to find the right Friday to release the material. The Saudi government thinks the release of the report finally spells relief. The Saudi foreign minister said Friday that his government hopes that with the release of the 28 pages “aspersions that have been cast against the kingdom” in the past decade “will come to an end” and “we can focus on moving ahead.” Even a king and his dozens of princes will need more than a little luck for that.

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