Nearly 15 years later, the U.S. government is still struggling to tell Americans the whole story about 9/11. Sunday, President Obama announced that a drone strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour. We’re still fighting in Afghanistan–a seemingly-endless war with people who previously defeated the other, now former, superpower.
We’re still fighting in Iraq, where the news Sunday reported that Iraq has launched an attack to retake Fallujah, which has been held by ISIS for over two years. I remember when the Marines pushed through bloody Fallujah in 2003. I remember when we lost it in 2014–how my veteran friends reacted in disgust.
These wars seem to never end. But Americans still don’t know the whole story of exactly who–as in what nations–supported, equipped, and harbored the Al Queda terrorists who perpetrated the worst terror attack on U.S. soil ever.
Retired Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, penned an opinion in Roll Call Friday calling on President Obama to declassify the remaining 28 pages, which are still marked Top Secret. He called the fact that these pages have not been released “an insult to the American people.”
Prior to retiring from the Senate, I went to the Intelligence Committee room in the Capitol where the full report is available and I read the classified 28 pages. Members of Congress may request to read the 28 pages in the committee room, but cannot take notes or make copies of the content.
Because it is classified “Top Secret,” I am not allowed to disclose the contents of the 28 pages. However, in my judgment, there is not now, and never has been, a justification to withhold this information from the American people. The information I read is an important part of the story of the attack against our country.
The information included on those pages is consequential to understanding the full story of the 9/11 attack. It provides evidence that is not contained in the published 9/11 commission report.
Frankly, it’s a scandal that this information has been withheld from the American people for the past 12 years. Obviously, a report that withholds 28 pages of critical information about the attack is not a “full and complete” report. The classification of that information was an insult to the American people.
By now, over 11 years after the report was issued, it’s likely that thousands of top-level American politicians, cleared individuals within the intelligence community, aides and administration officials have seen the classified 28 pages. This is not some black Skunkworks program or deep NSA source data. Releasing the 28 pages surely can’t reveal sources and methods we haven’t seen in the public press for years.
Keeping the information classified is a purely political move. It’s a hot potato that nobody–not Bush, not Obama–wants to have opened in their laps. Surely, if Hillary Clinton makes it to the White House, we may never see the inside of that report, because “what, at this point, does it matter?” A President Trump might release it after he, in his first actual intelligence brief, recovers from the shock of what Bush didn’t know (and how little real “actionable” data a president gets before signing off on a “finding”).
President Obama, who normalized relations with the Castros, the butchers of Cuba, signed a nuclear pact with the Ayatollahs in Iran, and has now lifted the 41-year weapons embargo to Vietnam, doesn’t want to sully his relationship with the Saudis. But his public legacy may depend more on closing out the last details of 9/11 much more than overturning 60 years of American anti-Communist doctrine.
Obama should release the 28 pages because even members of his own party think it’s the right thing to do.