Ever since the release of the official report of the 9/11 commission–minus 28 pages which were redacted in the name of “national security”–many have wondered what else we do not yet know about the planning, financing, and protection of those who committed the horrible acts of terrorism which killed nearly 3,000 people. Was Al Qaeda alone responsible for this crime, or did the hijackers of the planes that did so much damage have help?
Now, thanks to one of the commission members–former Navy Secretary John Lehman–we know what was in those 28 redacted pages: Proof of the direct involvement of the government of Saudi Arabia, which is supposed to be one of our closest allies in the Middle East.
Lehman told the Guardian newspaper:
“There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government. Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”
Many of the 9/11 commission members other than Lehman have also called for the release of the heavily edited 28 pages. And yet, oddly, commission chairman, New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean has repeatedly said that Saudis are “an ally” in the fight against terrorism. Lehman disagrees:
“They may not have been indicted, but they were certainly implicated. There was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence.”
But Lehman was quick to note that the commission found no evidence which would have suggested the involvement of the Saudi royal family or the country’s senior civilian leadership, but he added there were definite links between the hijackers and the Saudi ministry of Islamic affairs.
Another commissioner who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, said this about the connection to Saudi Arabia:
“I think we were tough on the Saudis, but obviously not tough enough. I know some members of the staff felt we went much too easy on the Saudis. I didn’t really know the extent of it until after the report came out.”
Philip Zelikow, who served as executive director of the reports release under the supervision of then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said releasing the 28 pages of the report in question would “only make the red herring grow redder.”
To that, Lehman remarked:
“Contrary to the argument advocated by the Kingdom, the 9/11 commission did not exonerate Saudi Arabia of culpability for the events of 11 September 2001 or the financing of Al Qaeda.”
But will we ever be allowed to see the redacted pages and decide for ourselves?
Here’s John Lehman talking to the press in 2009:
This article was originally published by the same author at BipartisanReport.com.