Q: The 28 pages have been declassified. Where can I read them?
Click here for a full-text transcription of the 28 pages and a link to the original PDF version that was posted by the House intelligence committee.
Q. What did we learn from the declassified 28 pages?
The 28 pages 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. Bandar was also a close confidant of President George W. Bush, who classified the pages in 2003.
Q. The U.S. and Saudi governments say that the 9/11 Commission, which came after the joint inquiry that produced the 28 pages, “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” Did the commission render the 28 pages obsolete?
No. There are many indications that the 9/11 Commission did not thoroughly investigate leads pointing toward Saudi Arabia, and commission member Bob Kerrey said, “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued.”
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 in 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 yet been provided for the content that is still hidden.
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). Produced 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?
Theoretically, 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 redacted portions of the 28 pages should be made public, 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.