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Is there a smoking gun in the 28 pages that were redacted from the congressional joint inquiry on intelligence from before and after the 9/11 attacks that links the Saudi Arabian government to the attacks? A co-chair of that inquiry, former Forida Sen. Bob Graham thinks there is one. He also says the link goes all the way to the top of the Saudi government and that the government’s funding of terrorist groups continues to this day.
Graham, who has been advocating for the release of those pages for over a decade, sat down with Yahoo News host Stephanie Sy on “Yahoo News Live” to discuss when that might happen, the Senate’s passage of a bill allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government and what he says are the Saudi government’s continued links to terrorism.
On the 28 pages, he said: “I think [they’re] a smoking gun. I think the linkages are so multiple and strong and reinforcing that it’s hard to come away from reading all this material and not feel that there was a support network and that support network came from Saudi Arabia.”
He said it goes beyond the pages though: “They will also open the path to other materials. There are thousands of pages of documents, which speak to the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the 19 hijackers.” He continued, “Could those 19 people have carried out a plot as complex as 9/11 while maintaining anonymity in some cases for more than a year and a half while they were in the United States without having some support?”
As for the bill, which still has to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by President Obama, he said, “It not only is going to open up the courts of justice to the families and the victims of 9/11. It also has the potential of exposing a tremendous amount of information relative to Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11.” He called the bill “a very big victory.”
After meeting with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday about the 28 pages, Graham also indicated that the release of those pages could happen soon. He said, “The general has been reviewing these pages closely for a year or more. He told us that before the end of this week, he would probably have his review completed. Then it goes to a panel that’s made up of several agencies [FBI, the Department of State] who will look at the 28 pages for their issues of concern, and then it goes to the president for his determination as to whether to declassify these papers.”
He also told Sy that withholding the documents goes beyond 9/11. He said it could lead to current links between the Saudi government and terrorist groups. He said, “This has been a long time that this information has been withheld from the American people, but there’s also a recognition of the consequences of withholding. Not only the consequences that justice is being denied to the Americans who suffered grievously by 9/11 because they lost a loved one.” He continued, “I think that the Saudis who know what they did and have a pretty good idea that the United States, at least at the highest levels, knows what they did and then nothing’s happened… They’ve interpreted this as being impunity and have continued to fund terrorist organizations and to train the next generation of recruits in their mosques and madrasas.” He said those groups include al-Qaida and ISIS.
Does he consider the withholding of the 28 pages a cover-up? “I have used the term ‘aggressive deception.’”
Finally, Graham, a Hillary Clinton supporter and former presidential candidate himself, weighed in on the state of the Democratic presidential race and whether or not Sen. Bernie Sanders has done more harm than good for Clinton? He told Sy, “I think to this point he has been a net positive. I believe that Hillary Clinton will be a better candidate running against Donald Trump from now till November because she had to sharpen her skills as a political candidate facing the kind of aggressive campaign that Bernie Sanders has launched. I think also that there’s a lot of good ideas that Bernie has put on the table and will influence not only what the Democratic Party advocates but even have some influence on the Republican Party.”