9/11 Community United Calls on President Biden to Release Documents on Saudi Arabia’s Role in Attacks, Requests In-Person Meeting
As the 20th anniversary approaches, families and survivors of the 9/11 attacks want government documents released that detail the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s support of the terrorist hijackers
Washington, D.C. – Families and survivors of the worst-ever terrorist attacks on American soil today requested an in-person meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the continued withholding by the federal government of known documents that detail the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s role in supporting the 9/11 attacks. These documents include the 2016 FBI Review Report of the bureau’s investigation of Saudi government agents who “are known to have provided substantial assistance to” the 9/11 hijackers.
The letter to President Biden comes one day after news reports that he is expected to visit New York City’s 9/11 memorial site for the 20th anniversary of the attacks.The signatories on the letter are representive of roughly 10,000 families and survivors that comprise the broader 9/11 community who are plaintiffs in a years-long lawsuit in federal court against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
There has been mounting pressure on the Biden Administration from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to publicly release the documents related to Saudi involvement in 9/11. The documents include substantial investigative findings and information not known by the 9/11 Commission. During his term as president, Donald Trump promised to release these documents, only for Attorney General William Barr to invoke a “states secrets” privilege to again deny the 9/11 community and the American public access to the full truth about the Saudi’s role in the attacks.
On its first day, the Biden administration promised it would “bring transparency and truth back to the government to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.” However, to date, 9/11 families and survivors have not seen this transparency and truth as they and others continue to push for a full accounting of the attacks.
In April 2021, the families and survivors sent a letter to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) requesting the release of these documents. They have not yet received a substantive response.
In May, a bipartisan group of 22 members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland challenging the “states secrets privilege” that has been used by the federal government to prevent the release of the documents related to Saudi involvement in 9/11.
In June, Reps. Deutch (D-FL) and Massie (R-KY) also pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray to publicly release the documents related to Saudi involvement in 9/11 at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
In July, Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT), Gillibrand (D-NY), and Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding the release of the documents related to Saudi involvement in 9/11.
Key Excerpts From Today’s Letter to President Biden:
“America deserves a full accounting of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, especially those of us who are the victims’ family members and survivors of those horrific attacks.”
“[O]ur quest for answers and justice did not end simply because the government tried to ‘put the issue to rest,’…a great deal of new evidence about foreign support for the attacks has been revealed since the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission, and much information remains hidden, without merit, from public view.”
“Your administration promised the American people that you would ‘bring transparency and truth back to government’ and ‘share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.’ So far, as it relates to 9/11, we have seen no evidence to support these promises. Repeated requests for the release of critical information…have gone unheeded and ignored. Our murdered loved ones and we deserve better.”
“Nearly two decades have passed since the September 11 attacks. Any national security concerns relating to the content of classified reporting have long since receded…Four U.S. presidents in a row appeared to prioritize the diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia over our nation’s interest — and our interests, as those most directly impacted — in uncovering the truth.”
“Please stand with us as we begin to reflect on the 20th anniversary by giving real meaning to ‘Never Forget.’ Stand with the 9/11 community and support us in our pursuit for a full accounting.”
Full Text Of The Letter:
July 27, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500
Re: Request from the 9/11 Community for an In-Person Meeting
Dear President Biden:
America deserves a full accounting of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, especially those of us who are the victims’ family members and survivors of those horrific attacks. We understand that you were not in the White House when terror struck in the skies, New York City, Shanksville, and at the Pentagon. But the 20th anniversary falls on your watch, and that anniversary inevitably focuses our and the nation’s attention on your administration’s continued, unjustified secrecy regarding the individuals and governments that helped support, plan, and execute those attacks. We respectfully call on you now to put an end to that secrecy.
It is for that reason that we now request a meeting with you at the earliest date possible to discuss the steps your administration plans to and should take to share the details about those who aided the terrorist hijackers, information that the federal government has long insisted on withholding. Given that top officials in your Administration recently hosted Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman for meetings at the White House despite his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by a 15-member team personally approved by his brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, we anticipate and expect this meeting can be scheduled in the very near future.
For the thousands of Americans whose loved ones were brutally murdered, and who will forever bear the scars from that day, our quest for answers and justice did not end simply because the government tried to “put the issue to rest,” whether through the 9/11 Commission, the Congressional Joint Inquiry, or other government efforts. As you know, a great deal of new evidence about foreign support for the attacks has been revealed since the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission, and much information remains hidden, without merit, from public view.
We know you empathize with the sorrow and pain we continue to feel. Just a few weeks ago during your trip to Brussels, we saw that you respectfully lingered at NATO’s 9/11 memorial after a long day of diplomacy. While a candidate for president in 2020, you visited Ground Zero and Shanksville on yet another anniversary of the attacks. Back on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, while speaking at the Pentagon, you shared with us that you “know what it’s like to receive that call out of the blue, that the dearest thing in your life is gone.” You also said that, “[M]y prayer for you is that, 10 years later, when you think of them — 10 years later when you think of them that it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.”
We also recall the letter you sent to our representatives in October 2020, agreeing that we were “right to seek full truth and accountability,” and promising to mandate that your Attorney General would personally review all “state secrets” invocations, always erring on the side of greater disclosure.
We remember all of these things, and we sincerely appreciate your sentiments and stated conviction. Now, you occupy the highest office in the land, and we need action.
We ask the government that you lead to immediately declassify and release the trove of information directly related to the September 11 attacks. One of many documents we seek is the 2016 FBI Review Report of the bureau’s investigation of Saudi government agents who “are known to have provided substantial assistance to” the September 11 terrorist hijackers. But we further ask you to mandate that the Director of National Intelligence oversee a full declassification review of all documents comprising the government’s investigation into Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
We were encouraged by your first day in office six months ago, Mr. President. Your administration promised the American people that you would “bring transparency and truth back to government” and “share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.” So far, as it relates to 9/11, we have seen no evidence to support these promises. Repeated requests for the release of critical information by the 9/11 community and even numerous members of Congress from both parties sent to your Director of National Intelligence, your Attorney General, and your Director of the FBI have gone unheeded and ignored. Our murdered loved ones and we deserve better.
In stunning contrast, however, you prioritized the release of previously classified intelligence information regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a crime that was arranged by members of the government of Saudi Arabia. How can our government release explanatory documents on the murder of one man murdered abroad but still not release the explanatory documents about the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent men, women, and children on American soil that occurred nearly 20 years ago?
Nearly two decades have passed since the September 11 attacks. Any national security concerns relating to the content of classified reporting have long since receded. Our own government, Mr. President, refuses to share the truth. Four U.S. presidents in a row appeared to prioritize the diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia over our nation’s interest — and our interests, as those most directly impacted — in uncovering the truth.
Please stand with us as we begin to reflect on the 20th anniversary by giving real meaning to “Never Forget.” Stand with the 9/11 community and support us in our pursuit for a full accounting.
We look forward to meeting with you face-to-face and seeing this long-standing stonewalling come to an end. Anything less will only perpetuate our agony and sadness and will prolong this injustice that leaves America less safe.
Terry Strada, widow of Tom Strada, (Killed at WTC)
Brett Eagleson, son of Bruce Eagleson, (Killed at WTC)
Don Arias, brother of Adam Arias, (Killed at WTC)
Lisa Friedman Clark, widow of Andrew Friedman, (Killed at WTC)
Tim Frolich, (Survivor, WTC)
Patricia Kellett, widow of Joseph Kellett, (Killed at WTC)
Sharon Premoli, (Survivor, WTC)
Matt & Loreen Selitto, parents of Matthew Sellitto, (Killed at WTC)
About 9/11 Community United:
9/11 Community United is an organization consisting of family members of those murdered in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as those who survived, were injured in or sickened from the attacks, a community that numbers well over 10,000. National co-chairs Terry Strada’s husband, Tom, and Brett Eagleson’s father, Bruce, each died in the World Trade Center on that day.