White House May Declassify 9/11 Files As Saudis Ramp Up Lobbying
On Sunday, former Senator Bob Graham told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he believed the White House was preparing to release at least some parts of a 28-page secret chapter from a congressional inquiry into 9/11. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes has confirmed separately that President Barack Obama had asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper to review the chapter for declassification.
Graham and other experts involved in the congressional investigation into 9/11 have already stated in interviews, mostly notably with 60 Minutes, that the secret chapter includes allegations of Saudi government involvement in helping the 9/11 hijackers settle in the United States.
Tim Roemer, who served both on the congressional committee led by Graham as well as the 9/11 Commission, has made specific allegations about Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, as noted by the Associated Press:
Roemer said many questions remain about the roles of Fahad al Thumairy, an official at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles who allegedly helped two of the hijackers find housing and transportation after they arrived in Southern California. Al Thumairy was later denied entry into the United States in May 2003 after the State Department alleged that he might be involved in terrorist activity. Roemer also wants to know more about Omar al Bayoumi, who was strongly suspected of being a Saudi spy and was alleged to have been helpful to the hijackers.
The 9/11 Commission claimed that their investigation found no evidence that senior officials in the Saudi government were involved in the 9/11 attacks, though Fahad al Thumairy and Omar al Bayoumi could be classified as non-senior Saudi government officials.
The push to release the secret chapter comes during a difficult time in Saudi-US relations. President Obama recently gave an interview with former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg, in which he appeared to lament the US-Saudi alliance. A bill to help the 9/11 families sue the government of Saudi Arabia, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Though the Obama Administration is fighting the bill, it appears to be quite popular.
Meanwhile, the Saudis are ramping up their lobbying efforts, tapping into their extensive network of DC insiders to fight against the 9/11 families bill.
The Saudis are also using their connections to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push back against negative views of Saudi Arabia, especially the Podesta Group, which is reportedly being paid $140,000 a month to represent Saudi Arabia’s interests in Washington.
Anthony Podesta, a Hillary Clinton campaign bundler and brother of Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta, is personally lobbying for Saudi Arabia in DC, according to a report by the Daily Caller based on Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) records.
Looks like the Saudis have already made their plans for the next administration.