Executive Intelligence Review
This article appears in the August 16, 2013 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Bush and Obama Joined at the Hip
in Shameless Coverup
of Anglo-Saudi 9/11

[PDF version of this article]

Aug. 12—Twelve years ago next month—on Sept. 11, 2001—four teams of hijackers commandeered large passenger jetliners on coast-to-coast flights, and flew three of those planes into targets in New York and Washington, D.C., killing almost 3,000 perons. Of the 19 men that made up the hijacking teams, 15 were Saudi Arabian. Many of them, particularly the pilots, had been living in the United States for a year or longer, and had been taking flying lessons at well-known flight schools.

As former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who co-chaired the Congressional Joint Inquiry, has repeatedly stated, there was in existence before 9/11 an extensive, state-sponsored support apparatus inside the U.S. which allowed the hijackers—most of whom had never been in the United States before—to live here and train, and to coordinate their attacks in an astoundingly successful manner, from their standpoint.

That support apparatus was first uncovered in San Diego by Senator Graham's investigators in 2002, when it was revealed how financial support for the hijackers had been funnelled through a Saudi intelligence agent, and the wife of Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar.

The funds involved, as EIR has uniquely documented,[1] were derived, at least in large part, from the British-Saudi Al-Yamamah slush fund, consisting of funds skimmed from the British-Saudi oil-for-aircraft deal exposed in the BAE scandal.

Despite the clear evidence of the state sponsorship of the 9/11 attacks by Great Britain and Saudi Arabia, the Bush-Cheney Administration launched military attacks on two nations which had only peripheral involvement (Afghanistan), or no involvement at all (Iraq).

And, as we shall show, the Bush Administration systemically suppressed the evidence of the British-Saudi role, most notably in the case of the still-classified 28-page section of the Congressional Joint Inquiry's final report, which is reliably reported to deal with the Saudi role.

When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, he promised to get the 28 pages released, but instead, has undertaken his own full-throated defense of the Saudis, and his own coverup of their role.

Moreover, when another important component of the Saudi hijacker-support network was discovered in 2011, centered in Sarasota, Fla., the Obama Administration went into full coverup mode to prevent any of this evidence from becoming public.

Twelve years is long enough! When one considers the human and financial cost of the "war on terror," which has left the true authors of the 9/11 attacks untouched, it is high time to break through the coverup, starting with the immediately release of the 28 pages.

Saudis Were Protected Pre-9/11

On Jan. 8, 2000, two known Saudi terrorists carrying U.S. visas, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, arrived in Los Angeles, where they were readily admitted into the United States. A couple of weeks later, a known Saudi intelligence officer, Omar al-Bayoumi, brought them to San Diego, where he settled them, and introduced them to the Saudi community. As was later discovered in the course of the Congressional Joint Inquiry, both Bayoumi and a second Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, conduited large sums of money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar, to Hamzi and Mihdhar.

In May, the two new arrivals began taking flying lessons. At the local mosque, they met Prof. Abdussattar Shaikh, who was on the payroll of the San Diego FBI office, assigned to monitor the Saudi community. In June 2000, when Mihdhar temporarily left the U.S., Hamzi moved into the home of FBI informant Shaikh.

Al-Mihdhar spent the next year abroad, recruiting the "muscle" for the hijacker teams. In June 2001, he easily obtained a new multiple-entry visa from the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah.

Although Mihdhar personally seems to have visited the U.S. Consulate, he didn't need to. By this time, the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia had instituted new procedures—called "Visa Express"—which allowed any Saudi to obtain a visa for entry into the United States without personally appearing at the consulate! (One official called this "an open-door policy for terrorists.")

And, it wasn't just the State Department that gave the Saudis special treatment. Graham recounts how he learned in the course of his investigation, that U.S. Customs officials were taught in their training, that "Saudis are different." One Customs agent, who had risked his job by questioning and denying entry to Mohammed al-Qantani, a Saudi who, unbeknownst to the agent, was being met at the airport by hijacker-to-be Mohammad Atta, later told Graham that, in Graham's words, "a Saudi encountered in the course of duty is to be treated with deference and special respect." His fellow agents told him he was "crazy" to deny entrance to a Saudi.

The case of Hamzi and Mihdhar illustates one facet of—to put it mildly—the blind spot that was endemic among large sections of the U.S. political establishment and the intelligence community toward the Saudis and their sponsorship of what became known as al-Qaeda. The Bush Administration's resistance to taking seriously the body of intelligence about al-Qaeda and the impending attacks on the United States, has been documented by, among others, former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke and former CIA Director George Tenet. In the White House, this blindness toward al-Qaeda and its Saudi sponsors was centered on Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and in the Pentagon, on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his top advisors, including Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Cambone, and Doug Feith.

These officials all viewed the Saudis as important allies of the United States and Britain. This went back most immediately to the post-1979 war against the Soviets in Afghanistan—in which the U.S., Britain, and the Saudi Arabia were the primary backers and funders of the mujaheddin fighters; and then, the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, in which the policy of the British, and of many in the U.S., was to let both sides bleed each other to death. On the British side, the Saudi alliance was underscored by the 1985 Al-Yamamah oil-for-aircraft deal, of which one critical component was a multi-billion-dollar terrorist slush fund administered in part by Prince Bandar (see box).

'Clean Break'

Saudi Arabia and other (Sunni) Arab Gulf states were integral to the 1996 "Clean Break" strategy cooked up by U.S. neo-cons such as Richard Perle and Doug Feith, and Israeli right-wing Likudniks. "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," issued by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies in Jerusalem, called for Israel to ally with Turkey and Jordan, in targetting Iraq and Syria, and to a lesser degree, Iran. (Later, in 2006, Cheney and Condi Rice were calling for an anti-Shi'ite, anti-Iran alliance to be composed of Israel and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, including, notably, Saudi Arabia.)

In the pre-9/11 period, Rumsfeld and his neo-con advisors were particularly dismissive of warnings, derived largely from NSA intercepts, about impending al-Qaeda attacks. Journalist Bob Woodward, in his State of Denial account, reports that in June 2001, Rumsfeld challenged the CIA's assessment of Osama bin Laden's plans, asking if this were some kind of grand deception. Tenet, in his memoir At the Center of the Storm, reports that he was approached by Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, in July 2001, with the same question: Were al-Qaeda's threats a deception, intended to tie up our resources and expend our energies on a phantom threat? Tenet says that Wolfowitz, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, was raising the same question. To the extent that Rumsfeld's Pentagon was focussed on threats, and not just management issues, their attention was on the neo-cons' favorite "axis of evil" targets, Iraq and North Korea.

The Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz mindset continued right up through the 9/11 attacks. For a couple of days after Sept. 11, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz refused to accept that the attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda, insisting instead that Saddam Hussein was responsible. On the afternoon of 9/11, Rumsfeld actually ordered the Pentagon to begin making plans for retaliatory air strikes against Iraq.

Despite the close relationship between the Saudi royal family and the Bush crowd in Texas,[2] tensions between the Saudis and the new President George W. Bush were on the rise during the Summer of 2001, as the younger Bush unequivocally backed the Israelis, and blamed the Palestinians, for the violence in the West Bank and Gaza. After Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah turned down an invitation to visit the White House, the President's father, George H.W. Bush, personally intervened to assure the Saudis that his son's "heart is in the right place."

On Aug. 23, after President Bush had backed a particularly brutal Israeli operation on the West Bank, Abdullah ordered Bandar to confront the White House. Bandar took the message to the Administration in a meeting with Rice on Aug. 27, in which he threatened to break the longstanding alliance with the United States. Bush quickly backtracked, assuring Bandar that his Administration would support the creation of a Palestinian state. Bandar flew to Riyadh with a personal message for Crown Prince Abdullah from Bush. When Bandar returned to Washington, he went to the White House and met personally with Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, on Friday, Sept. 7. Discussions continued over the weekend of Sept. 8-9, and Bush invited Bandar to return to the White House the following Thursday, Sept. 13.

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, with 15 of the 19 hijackers being Saudis, did nothing to disrupt Bush's and Bandar's plans. Incredibly, two days later, on Sept. 13, Bandar—who had financed and controlled the 9/11 hijackers—was indeed back at the White House, smoking a cigar with Bush on the secluded Truman Balcony.

Over the previous 48 hours, Bandar had been in constant contact with the White House, arranging for the flight of at least 140 Saudis—members of the royal family, and of the extended bin Laden family—out of the United States. Despite the fact that all commercial aircraft in the United States were grounded, special chartered flights began picking up Saudis around the country on Sept. 13. Although both the White House and the FBI initially denied authorizing the flights, Bandar and other Saudi diplomats had no such reticence: They declared that the evacuation had been approved at "the highest level of the U.S. government."

Astoundingly, at the time when a thousand Arabs and Muslims across the U.S. were being arrested and detained on the slightest suspicion of terrorist links, privileged members of the Saudi royal family and of the bin Laden family were allowed to flee the United States, without the FBI or anyone else being allowed to interview them!

The Congressional Joint Inquiry

Meanwhile, by the end of September, Graham, as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, had arrived at an agreement with Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to pool their resources and to conduct a joint investigation, rather than the House and Senate each doing their own probe. They met with Bush, Cheney, and other Administration officials, who all promised full cooperation.[3]

In February 2002, after the second session of the 107th Congress had convened, Graham and Goss formally announced the creation of the Joint Inquiry. But within days, Graham learned that bin Laden and al-Qaeda were no longer the Administration's priority: Military and intelligence resources were being shifted to prepare for a war in Iraq. Graham, while at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for a briefing from the military's Central Command, was stunned, and then furious: All the Administration's promises about rooting out terrorism, and destroying al-Qaeda, were being scrapped.

During the Summer of 2002, the Joint Inquiry, and its specially hired professional staff, proceeded on its investigations and preparation for public hearings, with an end-of-the-year deadline, when the 107th Congress would end. When Mike Jacobson, a former FBI counterintelligence analyst working on the committee staff, came across an FBI informant's report on Hamzi, the staff asked the FBI what else they had; weeks went by with no response. While Jacobson and another investigator for the Joint Inquiry were preparing for a visit to the FBI's San Diego field office, staff director Eleanor Hill was summoned to meet with top FBI officials about "a very sensitive issue," which turned out to be that of the FBI informant who, it was admitted, had indeed known Mihdhar and Hamzi quite well. The FBI, on direct instructions from the White House, delayed, stalled, and obstructed the Joint Inquiry; the informant was relocated, and was never produced for questioning.

In November 2002, the FBI disclosed to Graham and Goss in a letter, that it was the Bush Administration that was behind the stonewalling. "We were seeing in writing what we had suspected for some time," Graham wrote; "the White House was directing the coverup."

In San Diego, the Inquiry's investigators discovered the Saudi money trails to the hijackers Mihdhar and Hamzi. One trail led from Saudi government agencies, through the Saudi spy in San Diego, Bayoumi, who passed funds on to the hijackers; the second trail began with Princess Haifa (the wife of Prince Bandar), and continued through a second Saudi intelligence agent, Osama Bassnan, to the hijackers. Princess Haifa was also a sister of Prince Turki bin-Faisal, then the head of Saudi intelligence agency GID.[4]

9/11? What Was That?

As the Joint Inquiry moved toward public hearings in September 2002, the Bush Adminstration's stonewalling increased. This included stalling on declassification of documents, and resistance to providing witnesses. As Graham put it, "The more we learned, the less curious the Administration seemed about what had happened on September 11."

After the public hearings concluded on Oct. 2, the Joint Inquiry spent the next two months preparing its Final Report, which contained findings of fact, and recommendations for improving the collection, sharing, and use of intelligence. The Report, in its full, classified version, was filed on Dec. 20, 2002. Then followed many months of battle to get sufficient portions of the Report declassified, so that the public could see some version of it.

Finally, on July 24, 2003, a heavily redacted version of the Report was released to the public. Graham says he agreed that several of the censored sections were properly withheld in the interests of national security. But, he says, "there was one area that did not need to be kept secret, and it was the one area where the White House refused to relent," explaining: "This was, not surprisingly, the section of the report related to the Saudi government and the assistance that government gave to some and possibly all of the September 11 terrorists."

This was the now-famous 28 pages, which begin on page 395 of the Report. This section begins by referring to information concerning "specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States."

Both Graham and Richard Shelby (Ala.), the Republican co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, reviewed the 28 pages, and said that 95% of the information in those pages could be released without harm to the national security.

Graham attributed the suppression of the 28 pages to the White House, not the CIA or the FBI, and he later said that this, in itself, was sufficient grounds to impeach President Bush.[5]

The 9/11 Commission

From the outset, Bush and Cheney were opposed to any investigation, and particularly to any public airing of the intelligence failures prior to 9/11. Already in January 2002, Cheney had called Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to demand that he shut down any public airing of pre-9//1 intelligence. During the course of 2002, under heavy pressure from the families of 9/11 victims, the White House was forced to agree to the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to conduct a full investigation of the 9/11 attacks. The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the "9/11 Commission") was estabished by an act of Congress in November 2002—while the Congressional Joint Inquiry was still finishing up its work. While intended to be independent of the White House, it was in fact surreptitiously controlled from the outset by the Bush-Cheney White House, which blocked any investigation of the real state sponsor of terrorism—Saudi Arabia—and instead used the Commission to try to rally support for an attack on Iraq.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove oversaw the White House's choice to chair the Commission. The first choice was Henry Kissinger, a selection which alarmed many, including families of 9/11 victims.

In mid-December a delegation of 9/11 family members met with Kissinger in the Manhattan offices of Kissinger Associates, to demand that he make public his client list. When he explained why he could never do this, 9/11 widow Lorie van Auken got right to the point: "Do you have any Saudi clients?" Startled by the question, Kissinger lost his balance, spilled his coffee, and abruptly called the meeting to a close.[6]

The next morning, Kissinger called the White House and resigned. The following day, Rove called the patrician former Governor of New Jersey, Thomas Kean, to ask if Kean would consider taking the position vacated by Kissinger. When Kean accepted, and came to the White House to meet with Rove, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, and National Security Advisor Rice, he got the same, uniform message from all of them: "We don't want a runaway commission. We want you to stand up."

Over time, a baffled Kean realized that what they meant, was that he should "stand up" for the President, i.e., protect the President at all costs.

The primary means by which the White House controlled the 9/11 Commission was through the insertion of Philip Zelikow as the Commission's executive director. The ambitious and arrogant Zelikow had served on Condi Rice's transition team in December 2000-January 2001, and had been instrumental in the demotion of White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke—who was later to expose how utterly unconcerned Rice and Bush were about the threat of al-Qaeda terrorism when they came into office, and indeed, up until the very moment of the 9/11 attacks.

Unbeknownst to any of the 9/11 Commissioners, Zelikow had, at Rice's request, secretly authored the Administration's National Security Strategy doctrine which, in its advocacy of pre-emptive war, overturned the nation's entire military and diplomatic history.

At the Commission, Zelikow immediately centralized everything with himself, forbidding any direct contact between the staff and the ten Commissioners—reducing the latter almost to the status of figureheads.

Worse, Zelikow was later found to be maintaining a secret back channel to the White House, with frequent calls with Rove and Rice.

The 28 Pages—Again

Under the law creating it, the 9/11 Commission was supposed to build its investigation upon the record of the Congressional Joint Inquiry. Graham was encouraged by the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission, and was hopeful that it would get to the bottom of what had gone on with the Saudis in San Diego—which his Congressional Inquiry had been unable to do, because of pressure and stonewalling by the White House and the FBI.

Two staff investigators from the Joint Inquiry, Justice Department lawyer Dana Leseman and FBI counterintelligence analyst Mike Jacobson, were brought onto the Commission staff, at the suggestion of one of the Democratic Commissioners, former Rep. Tim Roemer. Jacobson had been the primary author of the suppressed 28 pages.

Both Leseman and Jacobson were familiar with the Saudi investigation; moreover, they had the requisite security clearances, and they were anxious to follow through on the work they had started in the Congressional Inquiry. Jacobson did not have a copy of the classified 28 pages that he himself had written, so, early on, Leseman asked Zelikow to provide it to them.

Although all the documents of the Joint Inquiry were supposed to be available to the Commission, Zelikow refused.

When Zelikow later found out that Leseman had somehow managed to obtain a copy of the classified portions of the Congressional report anyway, he fired her on the spot. This, despite the fact that she needed the 28 pages to do her job, she had the required clearances, and she handled the documents totally properly, always keeping them in the Commission's offices, and locking them away at night. After this, no one, even Jacobson, dared to seek access to the secret 28 pages.

Zelikow, like the White House, had little interest in getting to the truth behind 9/11.

On to Baghdad

Meanwhile, in March 2003, Bush had ordered the long-planned invasion of Iraq, billing this as the next step in the "war on terror." Zelikow faithfully followed Bush and Cheney's lead, in attempting to concoct the case that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. Zelikow went so far as to feature, as a prominent witness in a July 2003 public hearing, the neo-con crackpot Laurie Mylroie, who blamed Iraq for just about every terrorist attack in the history of the world, including the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Shortly after this, 9/11 families' representative Lori van Auken (who had earlier confronted Kissinger over whether he had any Saudi clients), tore into Zelikow at a meeting of families and the Commission staff. "That took a lot of nerve putting someone like that on the panel," she said. "This is supposed to be an investigation of September 11. This is not supposed to be a sales pitch for the Iraq War."

Zelikow's pushing of the Iraq War was also a factor in the resignation from the Commission of former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.). The other major element was Cleland's perception that Tom Kean and the Commission's vice-chairman Lee Hamilton were totally unwilling to confront the White House. Cleland later said he did not want to participate in the "whitewash" and coverup of 9/11 being orchestrated by the White House.

Saudis Questioned

Meanwhile, Mike Jacobson, who had originally uncovered the evidence of the Saudi support network in San Diego, kept pushing the Saudi issue, particularly attempting to get access to Saudi intelligence agent Bayoumi, and also to Fahad al-Thumairy, a former Saudi diplomat who had been in contact with Hamzi and Mihdhar in Los Angeles. (Bayoumi fled to London after 9/11, where he was detained by Scotland Yard. When the FBI sent agents to London to interview him, the British, at the request of the Saudi Embassy in London, released him and allowed him to return to Saudi Arabia.[7]) Thumairy, a professed jihadist, was technically not a diplomat; he worked for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and was the liaison from the Saudi Consulate to the Saudi-financed King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles. In 2003, he was deported from the United States.

Jacobson and other investigators found evidence suggesting that Thumairy had orchestrated support for the hijackers through a network of Saudi expatriates and others, which included Bayoumi. They were anxious to confront Thumairy with the evidence they had collected. In the interview in Riyadh, Thumairy was uncooperative, even denying that he knew Bayoumi, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. Later Commission memos evaluated his answers as "deceptive" and his explanations as "implausible."

Bayoumi was twice interviewed by Commission investigators, after which Zelikow—incredibly—expressed his view that Bayoumi was not a Saudi agent.

John Lehman, a former Navy Secretary and a Republican Commissioner, was also concerned about the Saudi ties to 9/11, and particularly about the money flows from Bandar's wife to San Diego. On a number of occasions, Lehman pressed the White House on the Saudi question, and, according to author Philip Shenon, he was struck by the White House's determination to hide any evidence of the Saudi-al-Qaeda relationship. "They were refusing to declassify anything having to do with Saudi Arabia," Lehman told Shenon later. "Anything having to do with the Saudis, for some reason, it had this very special sensitivity."

When it came to writing the 9/11 Commission's Final Report, Jacobson and others, believing that they had explosive evidence on the Saudi government connections to the hijackers, tried to get their material included in the body of the report, but it was downgraded, and relegated to the footnotes.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington was so happy with the final report, claiming that it "debunked the myths" about Saudi involvement, that they posted excerpts on the Embassy website.

Obama's Promises

When Barack Obama took office in 2009, hopes were raised that he might release the 28 pages. Shortly after his inauguration, some of the 9/11 family members met with Obama, who assured them that he would get the 28 pages released. Bill Doyle, whose son died in the World Trade Center, says that Obama promised him personally that he would release them. Graham states that he too was promised that Obama would release the missing pages.

But tellingly, within a few months of taking office, the Obama Administration filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Saudi royal family members who were seeking to defeat a lawsuit by 9/11 families trying to hold the Saudis responsible for the 9/11 attacks. "I find this reprehensible," said Kristen Breitweiser, a leader of the families. "One would have hoped that the Obama Administration would have taken a different stance than the Bush Administration."

The Sarasota Revelations

The Obama Administration didn't just carry on the Bush-Cheney coverup; it added a new one of its own.

In September 2011 (as EIR has reported[8]), dramatic new disclosures came to light, linking Saudi nationals living in Sarasota, Fla., to a number of the 9/11 hijackers. What emerged was that shortly before Sept. 11, 2001, a wealthy Saudi family abrupty fled from their luxury home in Sarasota; subsequent investigations revealed that a number of the future hijackers, including lead hijacker Mohamed Atta (who crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center) had visited the house, and others had been in telephone contact. Security records of the gated community showed that two other hijacker-pilots, Marwan al-Shehhi (South Tower, World Trade Center) and Ziad Jarrah (Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania) had also visited this particular house. All three had taken flight lessons at the Venice Airport, less than 20 miles from the Sarasota house.

The house in question was owned by Esam Ghazzawi, who had been a financial advisor to a high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Fahd bin Salman. (Prince Fahd's father is a brother of King Fahd; his younger brother, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, was one of three Saudi princes who died suddenly in the Summer of 2002, after reportedly being identified as financiers of al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.)[9]

Also living in the Ghazzawi house were his daughter and her husband, Abdulazzi al-Hiijjii. Al-Hiijjii fled to London, where, ten years later, he was living in a luxury flat, and working for Aramco Overseas Company UK Limited, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian state oil company.

After the Sarasota story surfaced, former Senator Graham told the Daily Beast, "There's no question in my mind that the Saudi government was involved in 9/11."

"This is the most important thing about 9/11 to surface in the last seven or eight years," Graham told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's very important for the White House to take control of this situation. The key umbrella question is: What was the full extent of Saudi involvement prior to 9/11, and why did the U.S. Administration cover this up?"

In a Sept. 15, 2011 interview on Democracy Now!, Graham described the Saudi "support network" for the 9/11 terrorists that the Congressional Inquiry had uncovered earlier in San Diego, and said, "We've just learned about another pod of this network in Sarasota."

"What we know to date," Graham said, "is that there was a wealthy Saudi family living in a gated community near Sarasota, which had numerous contacts with Atta, the leader of the hijackers, and two others who were doing their pilot training near Sarasota. We also know that this family left the United States under what appear to be very urgent circumstances on August 30, 2001, just before 9/11." Graham stressed that the FBI did not tell the Congressional Joint Inquiry about the Saudi hijacker contacts in Sarasota, just as it had not disclosed the San Diego network until his investigators discovered it.

Graham in Federal Court

In May 2013, in a declaration filed in Federal court in Florida, Graham called for the FBI to make full disclosure of all documents relating to its investigation of the Sarasota Saudis. After describing the FBI's failure to provide the relevant information to both the Joint Inquiry and the 9/11 Commission, he declared:"I am deeply troubled by what appears to me to be a persistent effort by the FBI to conceal from the American people information concerning possible Saudi support of the 9/11 attacks." Graham was joined in his call for full disclosure by the organization representing 6,600 survivors and relatives of those injured and killed in the 9/11 attacks.

What triggered Graham's and the 9/11 families' new demands, were statements made by the FBI in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit pending in Federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. After the FBI at first denied that there was any connection between the Sarasota Saudi family and the 9/11 attacks, the Bureau then claimed, in Spring 2013, that disclosure of certain classified information about the Saudi family "would reveal current specific targets of the FBI's national security investigations."

In his court declaration in May, Graham also pointed out to the court, that the section of the Joint Inquiry's report that deals with Saudi support for the hijackers is still being withheld from the public. "The 28-page section of the Inquiry's Final Report dealing with 'sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers,' remains classified to this day even though declassification would not, in my opinion, endanger national security."

'Stop Protecting Saudi Potentates'

Almost immediately after Graham made his court filing, the group representing survivors and relatives of those injured and killed in the 9/11 attacks issued its own statement, which said:

"The Steering Committee of the 9/11 Families United To Bankrupt Terrorism endorses the efforts of investigative reporters Dan Christensen and Anthony Summers and calls on the FBI to come clean regarding an investigation involving a Saudi family, former residents of Sarasota, Fla., who may have provided aid to the 9/11 hijackers."

Sharon Premoli of Dorset, Vt., who had been pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center, stated: "After almost 12 years, the time has come for the Department of Justice, the FBI and this administration to give the American people access to the truth about who financed the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11. It is simply implausible that release of this information would interfere with any current national security investigation. Rather, the FBI's obstruction creates at least the perception of a cover-up to protect Saudi potentates."

Although there is some question as to who has the power to declassify and release the 28 pages dealing with the Saudis—Congress or the Obama Administration—the families put the onus directly on Obama.

"First President Obama promises me personally to release the 28 pages removed from the Congressional committees' report and doesn't, and now the FBI is pulling this stunt," said Bill Doyle. "The FBI keeps contradicting itself. On one hand, they say they found no evidence connecting the Sarasota Saudis to 9/11. On the other hand, they say releasing the information would threaten national security. But they can't have it both ways. And the Courts should not let them get away with it."

'Questions for Obama'

"I think that in the period immediately after 9/11 the FBI was under instructions from the Bush White House not to discuss anything that could be embarrassing to the Saudis," Graham was quoted by MSNBC as saying in March 2012. "It is more inexplicable why the Obama Administration has been reticent to pursue the question of Saudi involvement. For both administrations, there was and continues to be an obligation to inform the American people through truthful information."

As recently as July 13, 2013, Graham has continued to press the issue. In a Miami Herald op-ed, entitled "Questions for Obama," Graham took up the President's recent call for "a national debate on liberty and security in post 9/11 America."

"I welcome this call," Graham wrote, "but the difficulties with your proposal include: how to have a debate on a subject you don't know exists; and how to have a debate if the facts necessary to engage in an informed discussion are withheld."

Graham cited the Sarasota situation, which, he said, raises questions such as: "Could the 19 hijackers have conducted such a complex operation alone?" and "Did the terrorists have the support of a network, perhaps directed by elements of a foreign nation-state?" After reviewing the basic facts of the Sarasota situation, Graham then posed a series of questions for Obama, which include: "Why have the Saudis been treated in a distinctively different manner than other nationalities?" Graham pointed out that "this stark difference was highlighted after the Boston marathon bombing in April. Within hours of the massacre, the FBI was aggressively investigating whether the two Muslim Russian Chechen bombers had acted with the connivance of Muslims from Russia's volatile North Caucasus region. Yet, more than 10 years after 9/11, it appears everything possible is being done to conceal Saudi assistance to the 19 hijackers."

Indeed it is.


[1] Bandar's funds were likely derived from the Al-Yamamah project slush funds skimmed from the Saudi-British/BAE aircraft and oil deal. See box; also "9/11 Secret Partially Revealed," EIR, Sept. 16, 2011, and other EIR articles on the BAE scandal.

[2] Craig Unger, House of Saud, House of Bush (New York: Scribner, 2004). The account of the Bush-Bandar relationship is largely drawn from Unger's account.

[3] Bob Graham, Intelligence Matters: The CIA, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America's War on Terror (New York: Random House, 2004); see also Jeffrey Steinberg, "Bob Graham, a Man with a Mission," EIR, Sept. 21, 2012. Unless otherwise indicated, the account of the Congressional Joint Inquiry is taken from Graham's book.

[4] When top al-Qaeda official Abu Zubaydeh spilled the beans on the Saudi royal family members who were directly financing al-Qaeda, and other evidence of Saudi financial support was found, the evidence was suppressed; three of the Saudi princes he named, including Prince Ahmed bin Salman, turned up dead with months. See Edward Spannaus, "Abu Zubaydeh Case Shows Fraud of NSA's Dragnet Surveillance," EIR, [June 21, 2013.

[5] Anthony Summers and Robin Swan, The Eleventh Day (Ballantine Books, 2011), p. 420.

[6] Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored Story of the 9/11 Investigation (New York: Hatchette Book Group, 2008), p. 13.

[7] "Was the Saudi Government Involved in the 9/11 Terror Attacks?" Daily Beast, March 13, 2012, citing Newsweek.

[8] See, for example, Edward Spannaus and Jeffrey Steinberg, "More Explosive Evidence of Saudi Support for 9/11 Hijackers," EIR, Sept. 23, 2011.

[9] See footnote 4.

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