US senators increase pressure to declassify 9/11 documents

US senators increase pressure to declassify 9/11 documents allegedly implicating Saudi Arabia
2 min read
06 August, 2021
The September 11th Transparency Act of 2021 requests that key documents related to Saudi Arabia’s role in the terrorist attacks be declassified.
Democratic Senators Bob Menendez and Richard Blumenthal have appealed for the documents to be released to the public [Getty]

US Democratic senators and families of victims of the 9/11 attack urged President Joe Biden on Thursday to declassify key documents related to Saudi Arabia's alleged role in the terrorist attacks, ahead of the 20th anniversary commemorating the tragedy.

Information allegedly linking Riyadh to the attacks has so far been withheld from the public under the pretence of national security.

Democratic Senators Bob Menendez and Richard Blumenthal have appealed for the documents to be released to the public through the September 11th Transparency Act of 2021.

The bill, presented to Congress on Thursday, requires the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to oversee a full declassification review of the government’s investigation of the 9/11 attacks.

"Let's get real here: We're talking about the declassification of evidence relating to an attack that took place 20 years ago — and not just any attack, an attack that claimed nearly 3,000 American lives," Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said according to US political website The Hill.

"If the United States government is sitting on any documents that may implicate Saudi Arabia or any individual or any country in the events of September 11, these families, and the American people, have a right to know."

Families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks have also been pushing for the declassification of the government documents, which are said to contain information on Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in aiding or financing any of the 19 individuals associated with al-Qaeda.

The families are party to a lawsuit against Riyadh and have accused the Department of Justice and the FBI of blocking the release of key intelligence under the guise of the "states secret privilege."

"These families have mounted a legal struggle against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and now their struggle is not only against the Saudis, it is against their own government that is continuing to conceal evidence necessary for them to have that fair day in court," Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Hill.

Past investigations have outlined ties between Saudi nationals and some of the airplane hijackers, but have not established the government was directly involved.

The Saudi government has denied any connection to the attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi — as was Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's leader at the time.

Public documents released in the last two decades, including by the 9/11 Commission, have detailed numerous Saudi entanglements but have not proven government complicity.