More on the 28 Pages
Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower writes on the current press to get the pages released:
“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America.Philip Zelikow is not convinced:
The questions raised by the twenty-eight pages were an important part of the commission’s agenda; indeed, its director, Philip Zelikow, hired staffers who had worked for the Joint Inquiry on that very section to follow up on the material. According to Zelikow, what they found does not substantiate the arguments made by the Joint Inquiry and by the 9/11 families in the lawsuit against the Saudis. He characterized the twenty-eight pages as “an agglomeration of preliminary, unvetted reports” concerning Saudi involvement. “They were wild accusations that needed to be checked out,” he said.On the other hand, even the Saudis want the information released:
The Saudis have also publicly demanded that the material be released. “Twenty-eight blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks, has declared. “Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”
As does 9-11 Commission co-chair Thomas Kean:
Thomas Kean remembers finally having the opportunity to read those twenty-eight pages after he became chairman of the 9/11 Commission—“so secret that I had to get all of my security clearances and go into the bowels of Congress with someone looking over my shoulder.” He also remembers thinking at the time that most of what he was reading should never have been kept secret. But the focus on the twenty-eight pages obscures the fact that many important documents are still classified—“a ton of stuff,” Kean told me, including, for instance, the 9/11 Commission’s interviews with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Bill Clinton. “I don’t know of a single thing in our report that should not be public after ten years,” Kean said.I'm with Kean on this one; sunlight is the best disinfectant. As an example of the problems with keeping the 28 pages secret, consider the buffoonish Justin Raimondo, who claims they are being withheld to conceal Israeli involvement:
Graham has been explicit in accusing the Saudis of financing at least some of the 9/11 hijackers, as well as facilitating their entry into the United States. However, the Joint Inquiry indicates that more than this was involved: the phrase "foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States" jumps out at me, at least implying that it wasn’t just financing – after all, how much did the 9/11 attacks actually cost Al Qaeda in terms of dollars and cents? – but also that operational assistance was given on the ground.Of course, the operational assistance referred to has nothing to do with the Israelis; it's the Omar al-Bayoumi story as mentioned by Wright:
Given – by whom?
In the wake of 9/11, while the smoke from the downed World Trade Building was still clouding the skies over Manhattan, I noticed a news item in the Washington Post that rang all kinds of alarm bells, or at least it should have – although our vaunted Fourth Estate was too busy signing on to the newly-minted "war on terrorism" to notice. The story was headlined "Government Calls Several Cases ‘of Special Interest,’ Meaning Related to Post-Attacks Investigation." Reporter John Mintz related that at least 60 Israelis "of special interest to the government" had been rounded up and that several of these had training in counter-terrorist techniques.
Bayoumi later told investigators that, while eating there, he happened to overhear two men—Hazmi and Mihdhar—speaking Arabic with Gulf accents. He struck up a conversation with them and soon invited them to move to San Diego. He set them up in the same apartment complex where he lived. Because the hijackers-in-training did not have a checking account, Bayoumi paid their security deposit and first month’s rent (for which they immediately reimbursed him). He also introduced them to members of the Arab community, possibly including the imam of a local mosque, Anwar al-Awlaki—later to become the most prominent spokesperson for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.BTW, I should add that I'm not 100% convinced the Saudis want the information released; it is quite possible they are taking a PR stance secure in the knowledge that the pages will not be published.