As President Obama heads to Saudi Arabia to meet with the royal family of Riyadh, there is a growing outcry for the U.S. to release information that could link our Middle Eastern allies to the deadliest terrorist attack in American history. Among the loudest voices are the families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. These families want the right to sue the Saudi government and expose the role they had in financing the attacks.
They have been blocked by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, which protects foreign governments from such lawsuits. And Saudi Arabian officials have threatened to sell off billions in U.S. assets if Congress passes a bill undermining that immunity. Experts say the move could have devastating consequences for the American economy.
But the victims’ families aren’t hearing it.
“I’m furious. This is a slap in the face to the 9/11 families,” said Jim Riches, a former FDNY chief who lost his son in the World Trade Center collapse. Speaking to the New York Daily News, Riches said there were more important things to consider than financial effects. “Let them keep their money. We don’t want their money. It’s not worth 3,000 American lives. Call their bluff.”
Officially, Saudi Arabia has been cleared of culpability. The 9/11 Commission concluded there was no evidence to hold the Saudi government or any Saudi officials responsible for the attack.
But 28 pages of the official report have never been seen by the American people. Redacted at the time of publication, these 28 pages comprise a chapter examining “foreign support for the September 11 hijackers.” Leaks have shown that one of the hijackers’ handlers made a series of calls to the Saudi Embassy prior to the attacks. Another bit shows that $130,000 was transferred from the Saudi Ambassador to another one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego.
For now, there’s a great deal of smoke and little fire. And the U.S. government would like to keep it that way. If explicit information comes out showing that Saudi Arabia played an active role in financing 9/11 – or even that they had foreknowledge of the attacks – it could inspire an international incident. It would be easy to launch criticism at Obama, but this goes well beyond any single president or party. If those 28 pages are as damning as some believe they are, we’re talking about one of the biggest coverups in the history of the U.S. government.
In a year where Americans are already furious at the Washington establishment, it could be the revelation that fuels the revolution.