The Skeleton Scoop: Breaking down one story each week to the bare bones

Published: April 21, 2016

This week: The 28 Pages

By: ZACHARY DYER

WHAT ARE THE 28 PAGES?

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, under orders by George Bush, published an 838 page report on Nov. 27, 2002 on the events leading up to September 11th, 2001. This report is a combination of over 1,200 interviews and findings from documents taken from the FBI’s PENTTBOM (Pentagon/Twin Towers Bombing Investigation).

BUSH

BUSH

The 810 declassified pages of the congressional report that are already available do not shed any new light on that which was already known – “that two of the hijackers involved in the September 11th attacks landed in Los Angeles, moved to San Diego, and obtained housing,” according to NBC.

However, in a secure basement room of the Capitol lie the remaining 28 classified pages of this report. These are the pages that were reported on by CBS, both in an article ran on April 8, and in the 60 Minutes episode aired the Sunday thereafter.
Instead of expanding on that which is known, CBS is reporting on novel issues – the money and connections that were needed to complete the attacks.

Their report suggests that there were “specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11th hijackers while they were in the United States.”

“I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education – could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States,” former Senator Bob Graham told “60 minutes” in an interview, which aired April 10.

WHERE IS THE CONTROVERSY?

I think it is first important to note the “within” portion of this sentence. This report is not adding to the plethora of ill-advised and factually-grasping conspiracy theories stating that the terrorists planned these attacks “with” the United States.

Instead, these reports are speaking to the possible Saudi Arabian support that the hijackers obtained while they were “within” the United States.

BOB GRAHAM

BOB GRAHAM

Graham, and his co-chair Porter Goss, say these pages became classified in the interest of national security.

While neither Porter nor Graham will comment on specifics of the report, Graham suggests that those involved in the September 11th attacks were “substantially” supported by the Saudi government, states CBS.

Families of the victims of 9/11 have been attempting to sue Saudi Arabia for their possible role in the attacks, but under 28 U.S. Code 1602, “The Congress finds that…claims of foreign states to immunity from the jurisdiction of such courts would serve the interests of justice and would protect the rights of both foreign states and litigants in United States Courts.”

This means that, under the current law, foreign governments are immune to most lawsuits from courts in America. The

ADEL AL-JUBEIR

ADEL AL-JUBEIR

“Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” or JASTA, is a bill that would “allow victims of 9/11 and other terrorist acts to sue foreign countries and others that funded Al Qaeda, ISIS” according to a U.S. Senate Press Release issued Sept. 17, 2015.

The New York Times reported, on April 15, that Saudi Arabia told the Obama Administration that it would sell of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets that it held if Congress passes this bill.

The Obama administration has been lobbying to block the bill’s passage.

Exact amounts that would be sold vary, but Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, estimates that the total would be in upwards of $750 billion.

WHERE ARE WE NOW THEN?

While there are many sides, the simple answer is this: either the Obama administration successfully lobbies to have the bill rejected, thus denying victims of 9/11 the ability to sue foreign governments, or the bill goes through, meaning that the United States could be at risk of losing both over $750 billion overseas and, if Graham and Porter are correct, security at home.

Contact the writer: zachary.dyer@scranton.edu

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