Massie: Keeping 28 Pages Secret Threatens National Security

Massie CSPANCongressman Thomas Massie, one of Capitol Hill’s leading advocates for the declassification of 28 pages said to link 9/11 to Saudi Arabia, used an appearance on CSPAN to make the case that releasing the pages would make Americans safer.

“I think keeping it secret jeopardizes national security,” Massie told CSPAN’s Greta Brawner on Wednesday.

The Kentucky congressman argued that hiding critical facts about the 9/11 attacks prevents the American people and their representatives from fully understanding the terror threat and adopting the right policies to counter it.

Massie decried the lack of professional curiosity his fellow legislators have demonstrated where the 28 pages are concerned.

“Frankly, most of my colleagues haven’t even read them. We are debating the National Defense Authorization Act this week which has policy implications for the Middle East. People voting on the NDAA this week have not read (the 28 pages), yet they’re crafting policy ostensibly to prevent another 9/11. Well, if you don’t know what caused the first 9/11, how are you going to prevent another one? So I think the argument about national security is an argument to release the 28 pages,” he said.

On Saturday, The Hill’s Julian Hattem reported that the congressional intelligence committees have seen a notable uptick in requests to read the 28 pages after an April 60 Minutes report thrust the topic into the national spotlight.

Since the 114th Congress convened in January 2015, 72 members have requested to read the pages. While that’s nearly triple the number who requested to read in the 113th Congress, it’s still low enough to confirm Massie’s claim that most of his peers are casting life-and-death national security votes in a fog of willful ignorance.

Support for Bill to Enable Suit Against Saudi Arabia

Earlier this week, the Senate passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act (JASTA), which would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to enable 9/11 family members and victims to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in supporting the hijackers. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives.

Massie hadn’t seen the text of the Senate bill, but said, “I would probably vote for that. One of the arguments that I’ve made for releasing that report is so that you can discover the chain of culpability or liability for the victims. I’ve spoken with the families of the victims and the children of the victims and they really have no recourse right now and I think these 28 pages could help them.”

On Thursday, in an interview on RT America, Rep. Rick Nolan said the experience of reading the 28 pages made him “much more” supportive of JASTA and enabling 9/11 victims to sue those who enabled the attacks.

Massie’s Answer to a Frequent Declassification Question

Massie said he’s often asked why he doesn’t simply read the 28 pages on the floor of the House under the protection of the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. “I don’t have a copy of it and they don’t let me take my cell phone (into the secure facility that houses the 28 pages)—and by the way, if I read it on the floor of the House they’ll never give me a secret document again,” he said.

Massie reaffirmed his commitment to bringing about the release through other avenues. “It may jeopardize relationships with other countries but so be it,” said Massie. “The truth needs to get out for the victims’ families and for our national policy.”

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Sanders’ Worst-in-Show Answer on Whether He’s Read 28 Pages

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 9.03.50 PMSince our launch in 2014, 28Pages.org has encouraged citizens and journalists alike to ask members of Congress a simple question about the secret 28 pages on foreign government financing of the 9/11 attacks: “Have you read the 28 pages?”

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders managed to give the worst answer we’ve encountered to date.

On CBS This Morning, amid a discussion of tensions with Saudi Arabia over a bill that would clear a path for 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom and the president’s upcoming decision on whether to declassify the 28 pages, host Norah O’Donnell asked our favorite question: “Have you read them?”

“No, I have not,” he replied. An honest albeit disappointing answer—but not a surprising one given the extraordinarily low level of 28-pages readership on Capitol Hill. Then things turned south quickly.

Norah O'Donnell
Norah O’Donnell

Admirably pressed by the hosts as to whether he should read them, Sanders said, “The difficulty is, you see then, if you read them, then you’re gonna ask me a question, you’re gonna say, ‘You read them, what’s in them?’ And now I can tell you honestly I have not.”

Put another way, Sanders essentially declared he’d rather avoid the minor inconvenience of deflecting questions than be fully informed about who enabled 9/11—which might also provide critical insights into the rise of ISIS and other offshoots of extremism while informing the life and death votes he casts as a United States senator.

Sanders was clearly trying to muddle his way through any kind of rationalization as to why he hadn’t read 28 pages that millions of people around the world would read if they had the opportunity Sanders has to do so.

In other words, what we witnessed on CBS This Morning was a man who is duty-bound to be a scholar of terrorism being caught without doing his homework.

Turning a Blind Eye

Along with fellow Congressmen Walter Jones and Stephen Lynch, Thomas Massie has been urging colleagues to read the 28 pages for two years now. At a June 2015 press conference introducing Senate Bill 1471, which would direct the president to declassify the redacted chapter of a 2002 joint congressional intelligence inquiry, Massie decried the failure of the great majority to read them.

Some of the best intelligence we have in the war on terror is in these 28 pages, and most of our colleagues in the House have not read them, yet they’re pretending to be informed on these issues and having a discussion on how to prevent the next 9/11, yet turning a blind eye to the 28 pages,” said Massie.

Though he gets an F on the question of whether he’s read the 28 pages, Sanders earned an A on the question of whether they should be released: We are very grateful he said “yes” to that one.

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Congressmen Reiterate Call for Release of 9/11 Secrets

Rep. Thomas Massie
Rep. Thomas Massie

When Congressman Thomas Massie first arrived in Washington, DC as a freshman from Kentucky, a long-tenured North Carolinian, Walter Jones, asked him an intriguing question.

“He said, ‘Did you realize there’s 28 pages of the 9/11 report that never been released, but as a congressman, you can go read them in a secret room?’,” Massie recalled on The Tyler Cralle Show (audio below).

His curiosity piqued, the MIT grad obtained permission to read the 28 pages and proceeded to a secure, soundproof facility in the basement of the Capitol where he read them under close observation and without the option of taking notes or bringing anyone from his staff.

Massie was surprised by what he found, telling host Tyler Cralle, “They’re the most consequential pages in the thousand-page report.” At a 2014 press conference, Massie said the experience was “shocking,” and that he had to “stop every couple pages and try to rearrange my understanding of history.”

Jones, who joined Massie in his discussion with Cralle, said, “There’s a lot of information (in the 28 pages) the American people and the 9/11 families have a right to see. The American people cannot trust a government that will not let them see information on one of the worst tragedies in America.”

Pages Said to Implicate Saudi Arabia

Former Senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the 2002 joint congressional intelligence inquiry that produced the 28 pages, has said the 28 pages “point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier” of the attacks.

Rep. Walter Jones
Rep. Walter Jones

The pages—an entire chapter of the joint inquiry report—were classified by the Bush White House. “After reading those pages, I will tell you that I can I can understand (why)…because the Bush administration was very close to the Saudis, if you remember. The king actually visited Crawford, Texas,” said Jones.

Republicans Jones and Massie, along with Democrat Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, are leading the House effort to release the 28 pages. The focus of their campaign is House Resolution 14, which urges the president to release them.

Noting the resolution has attracted a modest 18 cosponsors to date, Massie said, “Trust me, it’s a dangerous thing to cosponsor this because they want to keep this under the rug.” Nonetheless, he said it’s important “to release those 28 pages in the 9/11 report that will once and for all show the American people what caused 9/11 and who funded it.”

Life and Death Decisions Demand Full Information

Jones also told radio host Cralle about his decision-making process regarding the upcoming vote on the Iranian nuclear agreement.

His scrutiny of the topic has already included consultation with Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor to Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush (he supports it), and will include discussion with scientists and a thorough reading of the arrangement, which places additional safeguards on Iran’s nuclear program that go beyond the ones already imposed on the country as a signatory to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Jones said his very deliberate approach to the vote reflects a painful lesson learned in 2002, when he voted to authorize military action against Iraq.

“I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of  mass destruction. Because I did not do my job then, I helped kill 4,000 Americans and I will go to my grave regretting that.”

Though he was talking about Iraq and Iran, his conviction that a full understanding of the facts should precede any critical national security decision seems equally applicable to his drive to release the 28 pages.

That same conviction motivates Massie: “If we’re going to be fighting more wars ostensibly because of terrorism and to keep us safe, shouldn’t we know what caused and what enabled 9/11? The American people are in the dark right now.”

The conversation about the 28 pages begins at the 21:00 mark in the broadcast.

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Rand’s Next Stand: Declassifying Foreign Government Ties to 9/11

At a crowded Capitol Hill press conference today, Kentucky senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul (R) introduced legislation urging the president to declassify 28 pages on foreign government links to the 9/11 hijackers.

“We cannot let page after page of blanked-out documents be obscured behind a veil,” said Paul  “We cannot let this lack of transparency erode trust and make us feel less secure.”

Senator Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul

Paul’s introduction of Senate Bill 1471—similar to House Resolution 14—represents a major milestone in the growth and visibility of the nonpartisan 28 pages movement.

Furthering his pattern of collaborating across the aisle on national security and other issues, Paul has already garnered the cosponsorship of Democrats Ron Wyden (OR) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). Paul and Wyden famously teamed up last week to block the extension of PATRIOT Act provisions that enabled the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone data.

Saying he was not alone in calling for the pages to be released, Paul noted that other advocates include “former heads of the CIA and the Republican and Democrat heads of the 9/11 commission” as well as bipartisan members of the House who are working to advance H.Res.14, which likewise urges the release of the 28 pages.

In an interesting twist, Paul announced his intention to next week offer the language of the bill as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. A similar maneuver was twice attempted in 2003 by then-Senator Byron Dorgan. Interestingly in note of last week’s high-profile clash over NSA surveillance, Dorgan’s effort was stymied on procedural objections initiated by Mitch McConnell.

At the press conference, Paul was joined by three congressmen who are leading the 28 pages effort in the House of Representatives—Walter Jones (R, NC), Stephen Lynch (D, MA) and Thomas Massie (R, KY)—and former Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the intelligence inquiry that produced the 28 pages. 9/11 family members also spoke, including Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism.

Graham: Release Will Prompt Reconsideration of Saudi Relationship

Of the speakers, former Senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the inquiry that produced the 28 pages as part of a much larger report, spoke most pointedly about the 28 pages and what they reveal: “The 28 pages…go to the question of who financed 9/11 and they point a strong finger at Saudi Arabia.”

According to Graham, the release of the 28 pages will have broad ramifications. “The 28 pages are very important, and will…inform the American people and, in so doing, cause the American government to reconsider the nature of our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

Graham said the 28 pages are “emblematic of a pattern of withholding information, unnecessarily and to the detriment of the American people.”

Former Senator Bob Graham
Former Senator Bob Graham

Graham offered a highly visual example of that pattern of withholding, describing a request made to the Treasury Department for information it had on a Saudi-based foundation suspected of funneling money to al Qaeda. The Department of Justice responded by distributing a report summarizing what it knew about the foundation.

Holding a think bundle of paper aloft, Graham said, “Let me just show you what the report said.” He thumbed through perhaps a hundred pages—all of them entirely blacked out.

Congressman Jones, who has spearheaded the 28 pages movement in the House of Representatives, said, “One of my biggest disappointments on the House side is that we have gotten very few members from the areas that were impacted by 9/11 to join us in our House Resolution 14, which simply calls on the President of the United States to keep his word to the 9/11 families and declassify this information.”

Lynch: Secrecy of 28 Pages “a Disgrace”

Congressman Lynch said, “It is appalling, it is a disgrace to a country that prides itself on transparency and truth and justice that these 28 pages of this bipartisan, bicameral congressional inquiry remains classified after 14 years from those terrorist attacks. It is not just a mere deletion of a few words here and there as is typical in these reports …this is a full-fledged black-out of information.”

Lynch rebutted the notion that national security is served by keeping the 28 pages under wraps. To the contrary, he said, “I firmly believe the information contained in these 28 pages will better inform our national security protocol and inform our anti-terrorism policy going forward.”

Lynch also said he shared Jones’ frustration with the low support of the 28 pages resolution in the House and the difficulty in persuading members to read the 28 pages for themselves.

Massie: Legislators “Pretending to be Informed” on Terror

Congressman Massie said the 28 pages represented a bipartisan issue. “Unfortunately, it is bipartisan in two regards. You have Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate who are leading the charge to release these pages, but you have two presidents, either of which could have released them: A Republican president who is the reason that they are secret, and a Democratic president who keeps them secret,” said Massie.

Massie noted that legislators are, on a daily basis, considering what steps to take at home and abroad to prevent another 9/11. All the while, he said, “some of the best intelligence we have is in these 28 pages and most of our colleagues in the House have not read them, yet they’re pretending to be informed on these issues and having a discussion on how to prevent the next 9/11, yet turning a blind eye to the 28 pages.”

According to The Hill’s Julian Hattem, only 25 House members requested permission from the House intelligence committee to read the 28 pages over the 24 months that ended on December 31. Seventeen have done so in the first five months of 2015.

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Video: Press Conference Introducing Senate 28 Pages Resolution on June 2, 2015

Senator Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul

As 28Pages.org was first to report last week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has introduced a Senate bill urging the president to declassify 28 pages on foreign government ties to the 9/11 hijackers. He will be joined in leading this effort by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

Senate Bill 1471 was introduced at a Capitol Hill press conference where Senator Paul was joined by Congressmen Walter Jones, Stephen Lynch and Thomas Massie as well as former Senator Bob Graham and several 9/11 family members, including Terry Strada, national chair of 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism.

Press conference video courtesy of LaRouchePAC. 28Pages.org is not affiliated with LaRouchePAC but is grateful to that organization for its ongoing, professional video coverage of many events relating to this issue. 

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