CIA chief expects release of 9/11 documents to clear Saudi Arabia
DUBAI (Reuters) – CIA chief John Brennan said on Sunday he expects 28 classified pages of a U.S. congressional report into the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States to be published, absolving Saudi Arabia of any responsibility. “So these 28 pages I believe are going to come out and I think it’s good that they come out. People shouldn’t take them as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks,” Brennan said in an interview with Saudi-owned Arabiya TV, according to a transcript provided by the network.
The withheld section of the 2002 report is central to a dispute over whether Americans should be able to sue the Saudi government, a key U.S. ally, for damages. The U.S. Senate passed a bill on May 17 allowing the families of Sept. 11 victims to do so, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto. Saudi Arabia denies providing any support for the 19 hijackers – most of whom were Saudi citizens – who killed nearly 3,000 people in the Sept. 11 attacks. Riyadh strongly objects to the bill. It has said it might sell up to $750 billion in U.S. securities and other American assets if it became law. Brennan called the 28-page section merely a “preliminary review.” “The 9/11 commission looked very thoroughly at these allegations of Saudi involvement … their conclusion was that there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually had supported the 9/11 attacks,” he added. The Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence is reviewing the material to see whether it can be declassified. Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the congressional inquiry into the attacks, said in April that the White House will likely make a decision by June on whether it would release the classified pages. (Reporting By Noah Browning, Sami Aboudi and Ali Abdelatti; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Paul Simao)