Report Confirms Very Low 28-Pages Readership on Capitol Hill

THE HILLIn a story published Monday, The Hill’s Martin Matishak and Julian Hattem made a very important contribution to the growing movement to declassify 28 pages on foreign government support of the 9/11 hijackers—by providing the best indication yet of the just how few members of the House have read the censored material.

According to Matishak and Hattem:

A spokesman for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the Intelligence panel’s chairman, said the committee granted more than 30 requests from lawmakers to view the pages in the 113th Congress.

That tally is disappointing but not surprising, confirming suspicions of extremely low readership voiced by in September.

Professional Curiosity in Short Supply

The 113th Congress ended its two-year run in December 2014, a full year after Congressmen Walter Jones and Stephen Lynch began urging peers to read the 28-page chapter of a joint Congressional intelligence report on 9/11.

Knowing Jones, Lynch and Massie account for three of the “more than 30” requests granted by the intelligence committee during the last congress, The Hill’s report suggests that fewer than one in ten of the trio’s peers were moved to action by these attention-grabbing descriptions of the 28 pages:

  • Jones: “I was absolutely shocked by what I read. What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me.”
  • Lynch: “These pages contain information that is vital to a full understanding of the events and circumstances surrounding this tragedy.”
  • Massie: “I had to stop every two or three pages and rearrange my perception of history….it’s that fundamental.”

These statements were sufficient to spark the creation of a grassroots movement—and the launch of—yet they weren’t enough to prompt the typical member of Congress to make the short trip to the Capitol basement to read the 28 pages themselves.

Congressman Stephen Lynch
Congressman Stephen Lynch

These 28 pages aren’t just about history. Lynch told The Boston Globe that, in the context of the war on terror, the 28 pages illuminate “the web of intrigue here and the treacherous nature of the parties we are dealing with — the terrorists and their supporters.”

At a time when Congress is contemplating a new authorization of military force in the Middle East, it’s no exaggeration to say that casting a life-and-death vote on counter-terror strategy without having read the 28 pages is tantamount to legislative malpractice.

Matishak and Hattem deserve credit for providing this critical information, and intelligence committee chairman Nunes should be applauded for enabling this initial level of transparency. That said, more transparency is needed—specifically, the names of those in both houses of Congress who have read the 28 pages.

The Bright Side

While confirming our worst suspicions about 28-pages readership on the Hill, Matishak and Hattem’s report offered a measure of encouragement, too:  Eight more requests to read the censored passage were approved by the House intelligence committee on Thursday.

In that same week, seven new cosponsors joined House Resolution 14, which urges the president to declassify the 28 pages. With heightened media attention and increased involvement by citizens in the form of calls and letters to Congress and letters to newspaper editors, we’re confident that number will continue to grow.

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Grayson to Submit New Request to Read 28 Secret Pages on 9/11

Congressman Alan Grayson
Congressman Alan Grayson

Congressman Alan Grayson, one of three representatives who last week joined the growing movement to declassify a 28-page finding on foreign government support of the September 11th hijackers, told he did so because “the American people have the right to know what happened on 9/11 in every regard.”

As he takes a stand for releasing the 28 pages to the public, he remains determined to read the 28 pages himself. Denied permission by the House intelligence committee in the waning weeks of the last Congress, Grayson will try again in the new one.

The Florida congressman said the December 1 refusal of his first request was “politics, pure and simple.”

“There are people on the intelligence committee who are unhappy with the fact that I have been a staunch opponent of pervasive domestic spying here in the United States,” said Grayson. “The vote was almost entirely on party lines because the Republican chairman (Mike Rogers) misrepresented information to the committee about my actions.”

Rep. Grayson on the House Floor, June XX 2013
Grayson Speaking on the House Floor, June 2013

In June 2013, amid the first wave of Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA mass domestic surveillance, Grayson delivered a speech on the House floor that was accompanied by a display of NSA briefing slides that had already been published in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Grayson said the information he shared in the speech relied “solely on information in The Guardian…and that was misrepresented to the (intelligence) committee members as my misusing classified information.”

“Frankly, if they’re going to be playing those kinds of games, it’s a wonder that good people ever get to find out anything about the octopus tentacles of the spying-industrial complex,” said Grayson.

Grayson is hoping for a different outcome when he submits a new request to read the 28 pages.

“Chairman Rogers is no longer chairman of the committee—in fact he’s no longer on the committee or even in Congress—and I hope the current chair will not try to twist the facts the way that Rogers did and I’ll be able to see the information that not only I should be able to see but also every member of the public,” said Grayson.

Grayson cast doubt on the notion that releasing the redacted information could pose a risk to national security or intelligence operations.

“It’s inconceivable to me at this point, more than 13 years later, that there’s any actionable information the administration needs to keep secret in order to be able to do anything with it,” said Grayson, who represents Florida’s 9th congressional district. “No one has ever claimed there’s anything in those 28 pages that needs to remain classified in order to protect current U.S. interests,” he added.

Grayson’s criticism of the continued secrecy of the 28 pages is echoed by many who have read them, including former Senator Bob Graham—who co-chaired the joint congressional inquiry that produced the 28-page chapter in an 838-page report—and Congressmen Walter Jones, Stephen Lynch and Thomas Massie.

While Grayson is well-known as an outspoken Democrat, support for the declassification of the 28 pages on Capitol Hill comprises a near-perfect 50/50 mix of Republicans and Democrats united by a common belief that foreign government links to the 9/11 terrorists shouldn’t stay secret.

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Intel Committee Prevents House Rep from Reading the 28 Pages

Congressman Alan Grayson
Congressman Alan Grayson

According to a Dan Christensen story published today at Broward Bulldog, the House Intelligence Committee has refused Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson’s request to read the classified 28-page finding on foreign government support of the 9/11 hijackers.

This is the first refusal of a request to read the 28 pages that is aware of and—given Congress’ role in overseeing national defense and counter-terror policy—it’s a troubling development. According to the Broward Bulldog report, Grayson’s request was denied on Dec. 1 in an 8-4 vote that fell directly down party lines, with the GOP prevailing.

Grayson told the Bulldog the refusal was orchestrated by outgoing committee chair Mike Rogers, who is leaving the House and launching a career in radio. He said the action was retribution for his criticism of the federal government’s mass surveillance programs:

“Why was I denied? I have been instrumental in publicizing the Snowden revelations regarding pervasive domestic spying by the government and this is a petty means for the spying industrial complex to lash back,” Grayson said last week, referring to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Though the House Intelligence Committee is charged with overseeing the country’s spy agencies, Rogers has been frequently accused of instead serving as their unconditional—and, at times, dishonest—public defender. It’s also worth noting that Rogers is a former FBI agent, and the contents of the 28 pages may be every bit as embarrassing to the FBI, CIA and NSA as they are to Bush administration officials, Saudi Arabia and other countries with ties to the 9/11 hijackers.

Echoing charges of deception leveled against Rogers in other places, Grayson accused Rogers of misleading committee members ahead of the vote:

“Congressman Rogers made serious misrepresentations to other committee members when he brought this up,” Grayson said in a telephone interview. “When the Guardian reported on the fact that there was universal domestic surveillance regarding every single phone call, including this one, I went to the floor of the House and gave a lengthy speech decrying it.”

“Chairman Rogers told the committee that I had discussed classified information on the floor. He left out the most important part that I was discussing what was reported in the newspaper,” said Grayson. “He clearly misled the committee for an improper purpose: to deny a sitting member of Congress important classified information necessary for me to do my job.”

Hopefully, the committee’s refusal of permission will—by drawing attention to the redacted 28-page passage found in the report of a joint Congressional inquiry into 9/11—prompt other House members to seek permission themselves.

Read Christensen’s entire story here, then watch him describe the FBI’s stonewalling of his research into the agency’s investigation of a 9/11 cell in Sarasota.

REDACTED w911Encourage your own House rep to read the 28 pages. Make a quick phone call or send a letter we’ve drafted for you.