The president of the United States, Joe Biden, ordered this Friday to declassify until now secret documents about the investigation that the FBI carried out to clarify the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
It is a gesture of support to the families of victims who demanded access to these documents in hopes of showing an alleged involvement of the Saudi government.
The decree, issued eight days before the 20th anniversary of the attacks, which left nearly 3,000 dead, marks a significant moment in the years-long struggle between the government and families over what classified information about the days leading up to the attacks could be published.
The conflict was evident last month, when some 1,800 family members, survivors and first responders objected to Biden’s involvement at commemorative events if the documents were still secret.
“The significant events occurred two decades or more ago and are related to a tragic event that continues to resonate in American history and in the lives of many Americans,” the executive order says.
The iconic image of the attacks of September 11, 2001, when two planes hit the Twin Towers in New York. Photo: EFE
“It is therefore critical to ensure that the US government maximizes transparency, resorting to confidentiality only when and where necessary and narrowly defined,” he adds.
The order instructs the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies to begin a declassification review and requires US Attorney General Merrick Garland to post them for the next six months, the White House said in a statement.
“When I ran for President, I made a commitment to ensure transparency on the declassification of documents related to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States. As we approach the twentieth anniversary of that tragic day, I am fulfilling that commitment.” Biden said in a statement.
Several congressmen and victims’ associations have been calling for years for more transparency regarding US documents about the attacks, which have refused to declassify all of the country’s presidents so far.
Still, the impact of the executive order signed by Biden and any new documents it might release was unclear at this time.
The Saudi bond
Previous research delineated links between Saudi nationals and some of the hijackersBut they never established that the Saudi government was directly involved.
What was left of the twin towers, after the 9/11 attacks. Photo: AFP
A lawsuit filed long ago in federal court in New York says Saudi officials provided significant backing to some of the hijackers before the attacks and seeks to hold the kingdom accountable.
The Saudi government has always denied any link to the attacks.
The families of the victims, against Biden
The families of the victims of the attacks allege that Saudi officials played a more direct role than the one publicly pointed out by the US government, citing in part the fact that the first two attackers to reach the United States were met and assisted by a Saudi diplomat. .
They also accuse the government of obstructing their demands for more documents and on Thursday called on the Justice Department inspector general to investigate the FBI’s apparent inability to locate a photograph, video and other documents they request.
The White House has not yet announced which events the president will attend to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.
“My heart continues to go out to the 9/11 families who are suffering and my Administration will continue to work respectfully with the members of that community,” Biden said in his press release this Friday.
Source: AP and EFE