On October 28, 2003 Senator Dorgan (D-ND) introduced an amendment to the Appropriations Act for himself and Senator Schumer (D-NY). The amendment was killed as not germane to the underlying act. The amendment was motivated by both Senator Dorgan and also Senator Bob Graham (D-FL). Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was listed as a co-sponsor. The text follows:
– Amendment No. 1994 –
(Purpose: To urge the President to release information regarding sources of foreign support for the 9-11 hijackers)
At the appropriate place, insert the following:
Sec. , Sense of the Senate on declassifying portions of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001,
(a) Findings. —the Senate finds that—
(1) The President has prevented the release to the American public of 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001,
(2) The contents of the redacted pages discuss sources of foreign support for some of the September 11th hijackers while they were in the United States,
(3) The Administration’s decision to classify this information prevents the American people from having access to information about the involvement of certain foreign governments in the terrorist attacks of September 2001,
(4) The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested that the President release the 28 pages,
(5) The Senate respects the need to keep information regarding intelligence sources and methods classified, but the Senate also recognizes that such purposes can be accomplished through careful selective redaction of specific words and passages, rather than effacing the section’s contents entirely,
(b) Sense of the Senate, —It is the sense of the Senate that in light of these findings the President should declassify the 28-page section of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001 that deals with foreign sources of support for the 9-11 hijackers, and that only those portions of the report that would directly compromise ongoing investigations or reveal intelligence sources and methods should remain classified.”
Anticipating that the amendment would be blocked procedurally, Dorgan stated that he would reintroduce the amendment on the very next piece of legislation that comes to the floor that is an amendable vehicle and is a non-appropriations bill.
And, in fact, Dorgan introduced the same amendment, this time Amendment No. 2000 to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill on October 29, 2003. On this occasion there was a vote to suspend the rules so as to vote on the amendment. It lost by a margin of 54 nays to 43 yeas. Two Republicans, McCain and Specter, voted with the yeas. Five Democrats voted with the Nays: Bayh (D-IN), Feinstein (D-Ca), Inouye (D-Hi), Miller D-GA) and Rockefeller (D-WV). Three other Democrats did not vote: Edwards (D-NC), Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (D-CT), even though Lieberman was a cosponsor of the amendment. Had those 8 Democrats vote yea, the measure would have passed with 51 votes.
Point (4) of the amendment is significant. According to PBS Newshour on July 29, 2003, the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar, vehemently protested the report and the leaked allegation of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attack. A meeting was hastily arranged at the White House on July 29 between President Bush and the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal, at the Saudis’ insistence. At that meeting Faisal delivered a letter from Crown Prince Abdullah to President Bush, the contents of which have not been revealed. PBS Newshour reports that the Saudis requested that Bush declassify the report so that the Saudi’s could respond to the allegations in the document.
The Saudis were obviously assured by Bush that he would not declassify the report, thus they could demand its release, knowing full well that their role would continue to be covered up.
Today, we should call the Saudis’ bluff. In 2003, the Republicans killed the amendment initiated, aided by the 5 Democrats who voted with Bush’s cover up and 3 Democrats, who abstained. Today, it is not Bush, but Barack Obama who refuses to declassify the 28 pages, despite having promised to do so during the 2008 campaign.
Democrats and Republicans have increasingly worked together on certain national security issues, including NSA spying, drones and the need for Congressional authorization to carry out military strikes against Syria.
Given the Saudi involvement and specifically the involvement of the same Prince Bandar today in funding and arming al-Qaeda in Syria, it is in the national security interests of this nation that the above amendment be reintroduced today with bi-partisan support.