CIA chief expects release of 9/11 documents to clear Saudi Arabia
Withheld section of 2002 report central to dispute over whether Riyadh can be sued
CIA chief John Brennan said on Sunday he expects a section of a classified US congressional report into the September 11th, 2001 attacks - which saw planes hit the World Trade Centre in New York, the Pentagon and another crash in Pennsylvania - to be published, absolving Saudi Arabia of any responsibility. Photograph: Sean Adair/Files/Reuters.
“So these 28 pages I believe are going to come out and I think it’s good that they come out. People shouldn’t take them as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks,” Mr Brennan said in an interview with Saudi-owned Arabiya TV.
The withheld section of the 2002 report is central to a dispute over whether Americans should be able to sue the Saudi government, a key US ally, for damages.
The US Senate passed a bill on May 17th allowing the families of September 11th victims to do so, setting up a potential showdown with the White House, which has threatened a veto.
Saudi Arabia denies providing any support for the 19 hijackers - most of whom were Saudi citizens - who killed nearly 3,000 people in the September 11th attacks. Riyadh strongly objects to the bill.
It has said it might sell up to $750 billion in US securities and other American assets if it became law.
Mr Brennan called the 28-page section merely a “preliminary review.”
“The 9/11 commission looked very thoroughly at these allegations of Saudi involvement ... their conclusion was that there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually had supported the 9/11 attacks,” he added.
The Office of the US Director of National Intelligence is reviewing the material to see whether it can be declassified.
Former US senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the congressional inquiry into the attacks, said in April that the White House will likely make a decision by June on whether it would release the classified pages.