Q: The 28 pages have been declassified. What now?

The declassification exposed new details about possible links between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi Arabian government, prompting many new questions that the American people deserve answers to. You can read the declassified pages here.

Q: What do the 28 pages cover? 

Prince Bandar
Prince Bandar

They detail a vast array of connections between the 9/11 hijackers, individuals who supported them while they were in the United States, employees of the Saudi Arabian government and Saudi royals—most notably, then-Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, who was also a close confidant of President George W. Bush, who classified the pages in 2003.

Q. Why are there still so many redactions within the 28 pages? 

Good question. Redactions that remain after declassifications effected through the Freedom of Information Act are typically labelled with a reference to certain provisions within the executive order that governs the classification system—that is, an indication of the reason for each individual redaction. This release, however, was performed by the congressional intelligence committees following a declassification review led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and no reasons have been provided for the content that is still hidden.

Q: Who made the decision to classify the 28 pages? 

President George W. Bush, over the objection of congressional leaders of the inquiry that produced them.

Q: Who wrote the 28 pages and where are they found, exactly?  

The 28 pages are an entire section within the official report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (not the 9/11 Commission Report). Produce by the House and Senate intelligence committees, the inquiry’s 838-page report was published in December 2002. The now-declassified section, titled “Part 4: Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters,” begins on page 395 of the report.

Q: Can any member of Congress read the full 28 pages without the redactions that remain? 

SCIF doorsTheoretically, yes. After asking permission from their respective intelligence committee, they read the 28 pages inside a highly secure facility beneath the U.S. Capitol. They are not allowed to bring support staff or electronics with them, may take no notes, and are observed closely.

Q: If there are legislators who feel strongly that the 28 pages should be completely declassified, why don’t they read it aloud from the floor of the House or Senate under the protection of the Speech or Debate Clause? 

First and foremost, there’s a physical impediment: While they can obtain permission to read the 28 pages in a secure facility in the basement of the Capitol, they cannot remove them from that facility and carry them to the floor. While, conceivably, a legislator could go the floor and reveal the final details from memory, that legislator could lose future access to classified information, impairing their ability to represent their constituents. Read our in-depth analysis of this question.

Q: After years of hearing about the secret 28 pages, it turned out there were actually 29 of them. Why? 

In the originally released report, the final chapter spanned 28 pages, mostly comprising row after row of dotted lines. At the beginning, however, there was a summary of the inquiry’s finding on foreign government links to the 9/11 hijackers. It appeared in brackets, symbolizing that it was an unclassified summary of the actual classified finding. The actual finding was longer than that summary, which helped push the content to a 29th page. Since they’re so well-known as “the 28 pages,” we’ll continue to refer to them that way.

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