Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, served as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee after 9/11 and during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Although he left the Senate in 2005, he fought for years to get 28 pages of a congressional report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks declassified. He believes they reveal that the hijackers who carried out the attacks received support from the Saudi government while they were in the United States.
The pages were declassified in July, and the Saudi government says they don’t show a connection between it and the terrorists. But Graham is still working to uncover more information that proves Saudi involvement in 9/11.
Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Graham about why.
Interview Highlights: Bob Graham
On making a case for the release of more declassified information
“I want everything that the U.S. government has that cannot meet a very high standard of national security to be released. I believe the American people deserve to know what their government is doing in their name. … Those investigations should be made public so that we can know what was the conclusion as to those unfinished items. … The fact is we know a lot more about the hijackers today than we did then. So there’s new information that was not timely when the 28 pagers were written. … And finally, the families of the victims have, for over a decade, been attempting to litigate against the Saudi government and various entities based on their being co-conspirators with the 19 hijackers. They have thus far been frustrated by the principle of sovereign immunity — that the king can do no wrong so you can’t sue the king. There is legislation, which is acroynmed to JASTA, which would carve out a narrow exception.”
On why the United States would cover up evidence of the Saudi government’s involvement
“President Bush had stated in one of his early messages to the American people after 9/11 that we would pursue anyone that was found to have given aid and comfort to the 19 hijackers to the ends of the earth and bring them to justice. Well when all of this information about the Saudis’ involvement became apparent, it was inconvenient to the goal of the Bush administration to go to war with Iraq. Thus, the information was suppressed and has largely been suppressed since Sept. 11, 2001. It’s more difficult to answer the question that you ask as it relates to the Obama administration. I can ascribe it only to the fact that the Middle East has been in such turmoil that the administration has made a decision that, in spite of the consequences of not holding Saudi Arabia to account for what it did almost 15 years ago, we would continues this practice of submerging information.”
On Saudi Arabia’s potential motives in the attack
“My speculation is that Osama bin Laden, armed with 30,000 warriors who had just played a major part in removing the Russians from Afghanistan, threatened the kingdom that if it would not provide him assistance in a plot that he was developing, and realized that would require some support from inside the United States, and knew that the Saudis had the capability to provide that support, threatened the kingdom with civil unrest if they did not do so.”
On the necessity of more information
“I describe [the 28 pages of congressional report] as the cork in the bottle, and now we need to pour out the information that I think would’ve been unavailable before the 28 pages were released but now are available, and that follow-up information to the leads that were first encountered in the 28 pages. We need the full information in order to make an informed and final judgment as to the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11.”
On why this information matters
“In order to fully protect the American people, we need to know all of the facts about 9/11, and then from that decide what are the steps that are most likely to protect the American people from a repetition.”