Rand Paul seeks to tie Pentagon funding to release of classified 9/11 docs

U.S. Presidential candidate and Texas Senator Rand Paul.(Reuters / Jim Young )
The Kentucky Senator and GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul filed an amendment to a military funding bill, demanding the release of 28 pages from the 9/11 report that have been classified since 2002 and allegedly link Saudi Arabia to the attacks.

Paul originally submitted a separate bill, titled the “Transparency for the Families of 9/11 Act” (S.1471), earlier this week, with the backing of Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). On Friday afternoon, however, he said there would also be an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – a bill funding military operations for the next fiscal year.

“For over 13 years, the family members of the victims of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have been deprived of the details surrounding the redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry,”
Paul said. ”I firmly believe the American people deserve a government that instills trust and a restoration of their sense of security, and think my amendment is a step in the right direction.”

While the wording of the amendment is not known, Paul says it would “require” the President to declassify the pages within 60 days of the NDAA’s adoption.

The 28 pages were redacted from the final 9/11 report by the George W. Bush administration. Rumors have persisted that this was done to protect senior officials in Saudi Arabia, homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, who were allegedly complicit in the attacks.

Members of Congress with a security clearance can apply for permission to read the 28 pages, inside a secure room in the basement of the US Capitol. They are not allowed to bring aides, or take notes, and very few legislators have ever taken the opportunity.

READ MORE: Lawmakers to Obama: Declassify remaining pages of 9/11 report

One of those who has is Representative Walter Jones (R-North Carolina). In February of this year, Jones proposed a resolution in the House urging the President to declassify the 28 pages. The bill is backed by Congressmen Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) and Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) and has more than a dozen co-sponsors, all of whom have read the redacted pages.

“You cannot have trust in your government when your government hides information from you, particularly on something horrific like 9/11,” Jones said upon introducing the bill.

“This wasn’t a mere deletion of a few words but a full-fledged blackout of 28 pages of the report,” added Lynch.

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In 2003, justifying the decision to classify that portion of the 900-page document, then-President Bush said their release would aid the enemy in the “war on terror” by revealing US “sources and methods.”

Congressman Jones disagrees: “There’s nothing in it about national security. It’s about the Bush administration and its relationship with the Saudis,” he told the New Yorker in September 2014.

Saudi Arabia has openly endorsed the efforts to declassify the pages, arguing that continued secrecy made the rumors about the kingdom’s involvement in 9/11 seem more credible.

“Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages,” said a 2003 statement from the Saudi embassy, denouncing the speculation that the kingdom funded, organized or even knew about the attacks as “malicious and blatantly false.”

The proposed 2016 NDAA allocates over $600 billion to the Pentagon, including funding for programs sending weapons to Sunni and Kurdish tribal fighters in Iraq, as well as to the Ukrainian government.