CIA Director John Brennan said Sunday that 28 classified pages of a bipartisan commission’s report on the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks contains “uncorroborated, unvetted information” that some could seize upon to claim Saudi Arabian involvement in the attacks.
Brennan, speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” said such claims would be “very, very inaccurate.”
The Obama administration may soon release at least part of the secret chapter, which some believe shows a Saudi connection to the Al Qaeda attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.
A groundswell to declassify the documents began last month, when former Florida Sen. Bob Graham told CBS’ “60 Minutes” he believed the 19 hijackers “substantially” received support from officials in Saudi Arabia’s government and prominent members of society.
“There are a lot of rocks out there that have been purposefully tamped down, that if were they turned over, would give us a more expansive view of the Saudi role,” Graham said at the time.
The 28 pages were withheld from the 838-page report on the orders of then-President George W. Bush, who said the release could divulge intelligence sources and methods. In mid-April, the White House told Graham that it would decide whether to declassify the material within 60 days.
Brennan said Sunday that the pages were classified because “of concerns about sensitive methods, investigative actions, and the investigation of 9/11 was still underway in 2002.”
Brennan added that he believed the pages contain “a combination of things that are accurate and inaccurate.” He said the 9/11 Commission followed up on the preliminary information in the 28 pages and made “a very clear judgment” there was no evidence indicating “the Saudi government as an institution or Saudi officials individually” financially backed Al Qaeda.”
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government says it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the attacks, is fighting extremists and working to clamp down on their funding channels. Still, the Saudis have long said that they would welcome declassification of the 28 pages because it would “allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner.”
Brennan’s comments came as lawmakers are considering a bill that would permit terrorism victims to sue foreign states that helped fund or otherwise support attacks in the U.S. The legislation is opposed by the Obama administration and the Saudi government has threatened to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in American assets if it passes.