Sources confirm that the 28 classified pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry intoIntelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 will soon be released by Congress, perhaps as soon as today.
The pages, known as the “missing 28 pages” were originally classified under the administration of George W. Bush and have been a key part of the demand by families of terrorist victims, including families of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, for government accountability and the need to attack the financial networks of terrorists. The pages have remained classified under the Obama administration despite President Obama promising the families of 9/11 victims, in person and at least twice, that he would release the pages. Due to executive branch procrastination it has now fallen to the House of the People to act.
It is alleged that the missing 28 pages show the complicity of some officials of the Saudi Arabian government in financing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. Fifteen of the 19 terrorist hijackers were of Saudi descent and the Saudi government has long been suspected of doing a double dance when it comes its dealing with terrorist networks. While the missing 28 pages have not been released to the public, Members of Congress who have read the pages have alluded to its contents implicating at least some mid-level, or higher, Saudi officials in the financing of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The pages are a key component arising out of the lawsuit brought by 9/11 families and survivors against Saudi Arabia. The current lawsuit seeks to expose alleged Saudi culpability in passing monies to the 9/11 terrorists and hold that government accountable. Due to the potential explosive nature of the 28 pages, family members of 9/11 victims see its contents as a integral part of their case. For their part, the Saudi government said for many years that the pages should be released in order to prove their innocence of the charges. However, the Saudis have recently backtracked that statement and threatened to sell off billions of dollars of U.S. holdings if the 28 pages are released today.
Linked to the release of the 28 pages is the increasing momentum to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) which aims to curb terrorist financing by foreign governments who help fund terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. JASTA would allow families of terrorist victims to sue those guilty foreign governments, for damages, in American courts as the 9/11 families are now seeking to do.
On the same day that the release of the 28 pages was announced, JASTA had its strongest day thus far. Yesterday morning the bill had had its first hearing in the House of Representatives before Rep. Trent Franks Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Rep. Franks and other subcommittee members heard testimony from State Department lawyers who are against JASTA and advocates for the 9/11 families who are in favor of it. The advocates for the families were well received, and several 9/11 family members later chatted and had their pictures taken with the assembled representatives. It is rumored that previous objections of the Judiciary Committee regarding JASTA have been settled and that its members and staffers are tired of carrying water for the State Department on this issue.
With these developments, it is apparent that JASTA is gathering extensive bi partisan support. By close of business on July 13, there were 50 House co-sponsors of the JASTA legislation. The split between Republican and Democrat co-sponsors is nearly even, attesting to the bipartisan support of the legislation. JASTA has already passed the Senate, unanimously.
9/11 families have remained adamant that JASTA is about cutting off at least one source of terrorist financing; foreign governments. The family activists, many of whom are older parents, have said they have no real desire to personally see money in their pockets but rather see monies taken away from sources of terrorism so that others will not have to experience what they have experienced.
It is becoming increasingly likely that JASTA will pass and, if vetoed by the administration, risks becoming a partisan, election year issue for Hillary Clinton.
When the 28 pages are released, and JASTA passes, some questions will remain however.
-With appropriate redactions for extremely sensitive intelligence gathering methods, the question begs if there was no Saudi financing of the September 11 or other attacks shown in the 28 pages, why was there an issue of releasing the pages in the first place?
-Why did the Saudi Arabian government originally wish for the pages to be released and then backtrack their viewpoint when it became apparent the pages could be released and that JASTA would likely pass?
-Why were the American people not trusted with this information if there was nothing explosive in there in the first place (again making retractions for intelligence gathering methods)? The American people are a very forgiving people and understand that nations are not perfect and that much business is done out of public view. However, this nation will never tolerate officials of foreign governments contributing to the slaughter of our own citizens. Hopefully the 28 pages, or subsequent court cases, do not show that.
Finally, if there is truly nothing of strong evidentiary value within those pages, the question needs to be asked, why did the government wait so long to release them, and foster more distrust of the government by its people? Those who are the strongest advocates of the war against Islamic jihadism, the families of the victims, had to fight an issue that started with the 2002 classification of the pages, in order to make our nation at least a little safer. Citizens should not have had to fight a battle rooted from so long ago with its own officials when even greater weight could have been focused on destroying the ruthless barbarians that murdered our people. We battled each other when we should have fought the evil ones. Meanwhile the Islamic jihadists, financed by friends and their conquered territory, continue to wage war against all of us.
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