National Press Club

Former Senate Intelligence Chair Graham Seeks More 9/11, Saudi Disclosures

September 1, 2016 | By Andrew Kreig | andrew.kreig@gmail.com

Former Senator Bob Graham urged pressure on Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers at an NPC Newsmaker event on Aug. 31.

Former Senator Bob Graham urged pressure on Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers at an NPC Newsmaker event on Aug. 31.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

The public should pressure Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers, said former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., Wednesday to a National Press Club Newsmaker audience.

The U.S. House of Representatives, he said, must enable 9/11 victim families to sue Saudi entities suspected of complicity.

“These almost 3,000 American victims and their families deserve justice,” said Graham. “They deserve the right, in a court of law, to present the evidence they have gathered, which is voluminous, that will link the kingdom and other entities of Saudi Arabia to the 19 hijackers.”

The Senate unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in May. The legislation would enable terrorism victims to overcome court rulings backed by the Executive Branch that Saudi defendants receive sovereign immunity from disclosure and liability. The bill is stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.

Graham, a three-term Florida Democrat who retired in 2005 from the Senate, said in remarks broadcast by C-SPAN and NPR that the House has not scheduled a vote on JASTA.

Get involved in that fight, he urged the audience.

Saudi officials and some of their defenders in U.S. government have denied Saudi assistance for the hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.

In 2002, the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 Attacks co-chaired by Graham published a comprehensive study. It included “28 pages” that reported who assisted the hijackers, primarily three based in San Diego.

Graham also called for release of thousands of pages of still-suppressed FBI reports being sought under Freedom of Information Act litigation regarding the other 16 hijackers.

U.S. authorities have tried to restrict information about Saudi involvement, said Graham, who alleged the FBI has provided “incorrect” information on crucial matters.

“Why are you doing this?” he quoted the FBI’s deputy director as asking him in 2011. “Get a life.”

During Q&A, Graham explained why the bureau resists disclosure.

“One, it is not doing it on its own,” Graham responded. “The pattern of behavior from the FBI, CIA, State Department, Justice Department, Treasury Department has all been consistent. I think the message has gone out from the White House that we do not want any information relative to Saudi Arabia to be released.”

The reasons, he said, include the longstanding U.S. alliance with the Saudi royal family.

But the public needs to learn more, he said. To that end, he distributed complimentary copies of his latest book, co-authored with Chris Hand, “America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall – and Win.”

U.S. government failure to disclose Saudi training of terrorists undermines national security, Graham argued. He praised journalists who have exposed details about the hijackers, and he warned others against complacency.

“We are developing,” he said, “a democracy of spectators who think their role is to sit in the stands and watch the game of democracy, not be a direct participant.”

“I believe our democracy is in trouble,” he continued. But he predicted that lawmakers, if put to a vote, would not want the taint of covering-up such a pivotal event as 9/11.