Activist 9/11 Widows: Obama Shielding Saudis from Justice

Kristen Breitweiser
Kristen Breitweiser

Five activist 9/11 widows have called new attention to the classification of 28 pages from a congressional intelligence inquiry that are said to implicate Saudi Arabia in financing the attacks that killed their husbands.

In a pointed piece for Huffington Post that was written by Kristen Breitweiser and co-signed by Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken, the widows accuse the Obama administration of subordinating 9/11 justice to the U.S. government’s maintenance of its cozy relationship with the Saudi royals. The five women all served on the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission.

Throughout a more than 14-year quest for 9/11 transparency, Breitweiser says, “my government has fought me tooth and nail.” She points to the 28 pages as a prime example of that obstructionism:

“There are 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry of Congress (an investigation into the U.S. government intelligence failures prior to 9/11) that have remained classified and hidden away from the American public by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. These 28 pages allegedly prove that the Saudis had a controlling hand in funding the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 innocent people.

Now, it’s more than fair to say that if these 28 pages blamed the Iraqis or the Iranians for financing the 9/11 attacks, they would have been released years ago. Unfortunately, since the 28 pages allegedly implicate the Saudis, they’re likely to remain secret and kept away from the American public forever.

Knowing that evidence of your husband’s murder is being specifically withheld from you by the president — with the sole intent to protect the terrorists and their financial backers — is not something any American should ever have to tolerate.”

Breitweiser, whose husband, Ron, worked on the 94th floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower 2, describes other examples of the U.S. government’s efforts to shield Saudi Arabia from scrutiny of its alleged hand in the 9/11 attacks.

The Department of Justice, for example, counseled the Supreme Court to deny taking a case presented by 9/11 family members arguing that the kingdom shouldn’t enjoy immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The pattern extends into the legislative branch: the proposed Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would smooth the path for claims against state sponsors of terror, was stymied by “a whisper campaign with no fingerprints.”

“And, those whispers sounded something like this: if JASTA passes, the Saudis will bankrupt our economy by withdrawing $800 billion worth of T-bonds, and even worse, if JASTA passes, the Saudis will stop protecting and sharing intelligence information with the U.S. and leave us vulnerable to an ISIS attack.

It would seem that the same group of people who fought against the release of the 28 pages, and our case being heard by the Supreme Court, are at it once again, this time opposing JASTA and labeling it a diplomatic disaster.”

Breitweiser catalogs many reasons for the government’s protection of Saudi Arabia, including weapons deals, reliance on Saudi funding of Syrian insurgents, the kingdom’s provision of drone bases and aggressive Saudi payments to lobbying firms with ties to the current and previous White House administrations.

Obama will visit Saudi Arabia on April 21. Writes Breitweiser: “I only wish I could adequately relay the disgust I have in my heart when I anticipate having to see my president smiling, laughing, and joking with his ‘special Saudi friends’ — the very same people who I believe underwrote the murder of my husband and nearly 3,000 others.”

Read the entire piece here, then help these 9/11 family members by taking action on this issue today.

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Congressman’s Letter to Obama: Release 28 Secret Pages on 9/11 Funding

Rep. Mike Coffman
Rep. Mike Coffman

Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, who last month cosponsored a House resolution calling for the declassification of 28 pages on foreign government links to the 9/11 hijackers, has followed up on that move with a letter to President Obama urging him to release the 28-page chapter from the report of a joint congressional intelligence inquiry.

“Having read all 28 pages of the still-classified chapter of the report, I strongly recommend the federal government declassify the report in its entirety and make it available to the American people. There is no reason to keep this information from the public,” wrote Coffman.

In a separate statement, Coffman said, “I don’t know how President Obama can claim that he is running a federal government that prides itself in transparency when, at the same time, he denies the American people the opportunity to better understand the circumstances behind the 9/11 attack on our soil.” A Republican and a veteran of both Iraq wars, Coffman serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

President Obama reportedly assured 9/11 family members—in 2009 and again in 2011—that he would declassify the 28 pages. Meanwhile, an ongoing intelligence community review of the 28 pages for potential declassification has already taken far longer than the entire, wide-ranging congressional inquiry that produced the 28 pages as part of an 838-page report.

Coffman: Pages Cover Links to “a Foreign Government”

Coffman’s letter to the president describes the 28 pages as detailing “the results of an investigation into whether or not a foreign government was complicit in the al Qaeda directed terrorist attacks on the United States.” Former Senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the inquiry that produced the 28 pages, has said the 28 pages implicate Saudi Arabia as “the principal financier” of the 9/11 attacks.

Though not decisive, Coffman’s description of the pages as investigating links to a singular “foreign government” may counter recurring speculation that the pages raise suspicions about a country or countries other than Saudi Arabia.

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Obama’s Unkept Promise to 9/11 Families: Releasing the 28 Pages

Photo: Elizabeth Cromwell

By Brian McGlinchey

Americans have grown accustomed to broken promises from politicians. And yet, some lapses are so striking that they can muster indignation from even the most jaded political observer. Case in point: President Obama’s personal assurances to 9/11 family members—on two separate occasions—that he would declassify a 28-page finding on foreign government support of the hijackers.

“I will get them released”

It’s one thing to neglect a broad policy promise made in the heat of an election, and another thing altogether to renege on a personal commitment to 9/11 family members—but that’s precisely what Obama is doing, based on accounts provided by Kristen Breitweiser and Bill Doyle, who each lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks.

Breitweiser—whose husband, Ronald Breitweiser, worked in the South Tower of the World Trade Center and was the father of a then-two-year old girl—told the Philadelphia Inquirer Obama’s assurance to her came at a meeting with 9/11 survivors at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in February 2009, just weeks after he’d taken office:

“We had opportunities to raise our hands and ask questions, and I asked him whether he would be interested in releasing the 28 pages, because for years we had been trying to get President Bush to do it,” said Breitweiser…

Obama “said absolutely, I don’t see why not. The bottom line is he agreed to do it, and he gave me and the rest of the world his promise,” Breitweiser said.

Had that been Obama’s only statement on the issue, one might be tempted to dismiss it as a careless comment by a new president caught off-guard, one who may have changed his mind upon reading the 28 pages himself. However, Bill Doyle—whose 25-year old son, Joe Doyle, was killed in the World Trade Center’s North Tower—says Obama gave him an even more pointed commitment more than two years later. Again, from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Bill Doyle’s recollection of his chat with President Obama remains crystal clear. To mark bin Laden’s demise, Obama had laid a wreath at the former site of the World Trade Center on May 5, 2011, and met later in the day with families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at a reception near ground zero.

The president stopped at Doyle’s table midway through the event, and Doyle asked when the government would make public portions of a congressional investigation that weighed evidence that Saudi Arabia provided support to the 9/11 hijackers.

He said, ‘Bill, I will get them released,’ ” Doyle recalled.

Declassifying the 28 Pages: Well Within President’s Power

Some presidential promises require a cooperative Congress, but this isn’t one of them. To honor his commitment, Obama doesn’t need to line up votes—all that’s required is a single stroke of his presidential pen. Given his previous warnings to Congress that he’s willing to use that same pen in ways that are constitutionally controversial, it’s particularly jarring that he would fail to act in this situation, where his authority is unquestioned.

Ronald Breitweiser: Killed on 9/11
Ronald Breitweiser: Killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11

The families of September 11 victims and their fellow citizens deserve to know what the U.S. government has learned about who enabled the 9/11 attacks—and what the CIA, FBI and other agencies did with the intelligence they had before that day. An increasingly wide variety of present and former government officials agree, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and the Republican and Democratic co-sponsors of House Resolution 428, which urges the President to declassify the 28 pages.

According to Rep. Thomas Massie—who read the 28 pages and described the experience as “disturbing”—declassifying the redacted finding wouldn’t jeopardize national security, but would trigger “anger, frustration and embarrassment.” If so, it appears Obama’s decision about declassifying the 28 pages values his own convenience more than his personal pledges to those most profoundly affected by 9/11.

28Pages.org is committed to bringing the redacted intelligence finding on foreign government support of the 9/11 hijackers to light.  Add your own voice to the growing, bipartisan movement to declassify the 28 pages today. Call the White House and ask President Obama to honor his commitment. Then call your House representative and urge them to cosponsor H.Res.14—our handy guide makes it easy. 

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Call Congress today and help bring the 28 pages into daylight.

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