The public pressure on President Obama to declassify the 28-page chapter from the original Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 intensified Wednesday, as President Obama arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to a cool welcome from King Salman. In his interview with Charlie Rose on the eve of his trip to Saudi Arabia, Britain and Germany, Obama had made clear that he intends to veto the JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) bill if it arrives on his desk, and he had also made clear that he had no intention of releasing the 28 pages, dodging the issue by putting the burden on Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who is an Obama stooge. Claims that Clapper is “almost finished” with the intelligence review have been used as a stalling tactic by the White House for three years; the review actually began under pressure from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
After gloating that Republican Senate leaders were backing Obama’s plans to sink JASTA, Sen. Lindsey Graham came out on Wednesday, reversing his position by announcing that, with minor changes in language, he will lift his hold, and allow the bill to come before the full Senate for a vote next week.
A growing chorus of public officials and Middle East experts have called for the release of the 28 pages in the past day, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who told Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast that he will defer to the judgement of the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunez (R-Cal.), who came out a week ago, following the 60 Minutes airing, supporting the release of the chapter. Bruce Reidel, a former CIA officer now at the Brookings Institution, also called Obama’s bluff on the 28 pages, arguing that the late Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud bin-Faisal, had said the pages should be released, claiming they would exonerate top Royal Family members.
Saudi expert Simon Henderson disputed those Saudi claims in an article today in Foreign Policy, in which he referenced a story he had published in 2002, based on reports from members of the Saudi Royal Family, who had confirmed to him that two very senior princes had paid Al Qaeda hundreds of millions of dollars in return for a promise that the House of Saud would not be targeted. He reported that recent efforts to determine whether those arrangements were ever terminated got negative responses.
Sen. Bob Graham also weighed in yesterday, with a powerful article published in TCPalm, a Florida publication affiliated with USA Today. Graham started out by saying that the government had not just covered up the truth about Sept. 11, 2001.