Trying to connect the dots
The so-called 28 pages were the only part of the initial congressional investigation into the September 11 attacks — officially named the Joint Inquiry since both chambers participated — that had not been made public before their declassification in July.
Actually numbering 29 pages, they detail a web of Saudi nationals living in the United States who may have aided the 9/11 hijackers. The George W. Bush administration deemed their publication a threat to national security and kept them confidential.
That designation was for more than a decade a bone of contention for family members of 9/11 victims and others who thought the pages might contain more details showing Saudi participation in the terror plot. After continuous pressure, the Obama administration agreed to make the pages public last month.
During the decade-plus they remained classified, Congress established the 9/11 Commission to devote more time and resources to investigate the questions raised by the Joint Inquiry — such as what the nature and extent of the Bandar tie was — because the inquiry was by no means exhaustive. The 9/11 Commission’s book-length findings were published in 2004 and found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al Qaeda.
The FBI investigated the phone numbers indirectly linked to Bandar in the summer and fall of 2002. A CIA-FBI investigation concluded in 2005 that there was “no evidence that either the Saudi government or a member of the Saudi royal family knowingly provided support” for the September 11 attacks or “had foreknowledge of terrorist operations in the kingdom or elsewhere,” according to an executive summary of the findings, which were released on the same day as the 28 pages.
The FBI would not comment for this story concerning those investigations.
The Saudi Embassy did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the questions raised in the 28 pages regarding Bandar. A public relations firm that handles press for the embassy referred CNN to the findings of the 9/11 Commission and the 2005 joint CIA-FBI memo.
However, the 9/11 Commission report and the joint agency memo only offer blanket absolution of official Saudi involvement and do not reference the questions detailed in the 28 pages surrounding the phone numbers that indirectly seem to link Bandar to al Qaeda.