9/11 Commissioner Says Saudi Government Members Supported the Attack

“Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.”

Balkis Press/Sipa USA/AP

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A former member of the 9/11 Commission says Saudi government officials offered support to the hijackers, and he joined the growing chorus calling for the government to release 28 classified pages of the commission’s report that may detail the roles those Saudi officials played.

John Lehman, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, told the Guardian, “There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.” Details of their involvement are found in the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 Commission report, he said. The Obama administration says it may release those pages soon.

The original report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” and the commission’s leaders wrote an op-ed last month saying that the 28 classified pages should not be released. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the 9/11 Commission’s chairman and vice-chairman, argued that “the 28 pages were based almost entirely on raw, unvetted material that came to the FBI” and were more akin to “preliminary law enforcement notes,” not solid evidence.

But Lehman says the report was too lenient on the Saudis, and that the commission saw “an awful lot of circumstantial evidence” that Saudi officials, likely members of the kingdom’s Islamic affairs ministry, were involved. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia,” he said during his Guardian interview.

Saudi Arabian officials have a long history of backing armed fundamentalist movements, from anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s to Islamist rebel groups in the Syrian civil war. The kingdom is also a frequent target of 9/11 conspiracy theorists, who believe the US government helped cover up high-level Saudi complicity in the attacks. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has suggested the same thing on the campaign trail. “Who blew up the World Trade Center?” he said during an appearance on Fox News in February. “It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi—take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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