9/11 Families Ask POTUS to Declassify Intel Before Leading Any Memorials

Nearly 1,800 Americans directly affected by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are opposing President Joe Biden’s participation in any memorial events this year unless he upholds his pledge to declassify U.S. government evidence that they believe may show a link between Saudi Arabian leaders and the attacks.

The victims’ family members, first responders, and survivors will release a statement Friday asking President Biden to skip 20th-anniversary events in New York and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon unless he releases the documents which they believe implicate Saudi officials in supporting the acts of terrorism.

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Some 3,000 flags comprise a 9/11 memorial at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, on September 11, 2020, as the US commemorates the 19th anniversary of the attacks. – Each flag represents a victim and their nationality. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

The group says that as a candidate President Biden pledged to be more transparent and release as much information as possible but that his administration has yet to respond to their requests.

Among the documents the group seeks are supporting evidence found during a widespread FBI investigation into the attacks that examined alleged Saudi links and was completed in 2016.

While the 9/11 Commission report found that Saudi Arabia had been a “problematic ally,” particularly when it came to sharing intelligence, the investigation found no evidence implicating Saudi leaders in the attack. “The Commission staff found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or as individual senior officials knowingly support or supported al Qaeda; however, a lack of awareness of the problem and a failure to conduct oversight over institutions created an environment in which such activity has flourished,” the report said. It did, however, identify Saudi nationals as a major source of funding for Al Qaeda. The Saudi government has denied any connection to the attacks.

The administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump also declined to declassify supporting documents, citing national security concerns. The Trump administration invoked the state secrets privilege in 2019 to justify keeping documents classified.

A White House spokesperson said its Office of Public Engagement and the National Security Council staff have met with 9/11 victims’ family members to discuss their document requests and “hear their thoughts on policy priorities.”

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