9/11: CIA chief defends hushed-up 28 pages because of ‘inaccurate, un-vetted’ info

CIA Director John Brennan. © Molly Riley
The classified chapter of the 9/11 inquiry dealing with Saudi Arabia, known as the “28 pages,” should stay secret because its contents are “not corroborated, not vetted, and not deemed to be accurate,” CIA Director John Brennan said.

"I think some people may seize upon that uncorroborated, un-vetted information… to point to Saudi involvement, which I think would be very, very inaccurate," he told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

The US has a “very strong relationship… across the board” with Saudi Arabia, said Brennan, who has dealt with the Saudis in many capacities during his career in the government.

The document contains preliminary findings collated from FBI files, which the congressional inquiry into the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks evaluated and dismissed as inaccurate, according to the CIA Director.

“They came out with a very clear judgment that there was no evidence that indicated the Saudi government as an institution, or Saudi officials individually, had provided financial support to Al-Qaeda,” Brennan said.

Out of the nearly 850-page 9/11 report, only the 28 pages dealing with Saudi Arabia remain classified. The government has previously defended the decision by citing the need to protect the sensitive sources and methods of investigation, a concern also raised by Brennan on Sunday. However, the argument has recently shifted toward disparaging the documents’ content.

Advocates of declassifying the documents, such as former Florida congressman Bob Graham, say the government’s justification does not hold water.

“There’s been no questions raised about the professionalism and quality of the other 820 pages of that report and this chapter followed the same standards that they did,” Graham said on Meet the Press on April 24.

Representative Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota), who obtained special clearance and read the 28 pages, said“they confirm that much of the rhetoric preceding the US attack on Iraq was terribly wrong.” He has co-sponsored a bill calling for declassifying the chapter.

Saudi Arabia issued a statement in 2003, denouncing speculation the kingdom funded, organized, or even knew about the attacks as “malicious and blatantly false.”

“Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages,” the statement said, indicating that the Kingdom would welcome the documents’ disclosure.

READ MORE: Obama and GOP show ‘rare’ alliance over 9/11 bill that could harm US-Saudi ties

Last month, however, Riyadh threatened to “sell hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets” if Congress passed a bill allowing US citizens to sue the Saudi government for any involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reported on April 16. President Barack Obama, who visited Saudi Arabia shortly afterward, promised to veto any such bill.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the kingdom did not “threaten” anyone, merely “warned” that undermining the principle of sovereign immunity “would turn the world for international law into the law of the jungle."

“We said that a law like this is going to cause investor confidence to shrink. And so not just for Saudi Arabia, but for everybody,” al-Jubeir told reporters Monday, according to Reuters.

“What the Saudis fear is that there is information in there that talks about how the Saudis helped recruit terrorists for Afghanistan and helped terrorists to destroy Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria and Libya. And this is what they fear – they don’t want the truth to come out,” Michael Springmann, former head of the US consulate's visa department in Saudi Arabia, told RT.