Missing pages from a heavily censored internal Federal Bureau of Investigation report on the September 11, 2001 attacks contain explosive information on Saudi Arabia’s role in the 2001 terrorist attack, according to a group of investigative journalists.
The declassified version of a slide show titled Overview of the 9/11 Investigation was published by Florida Bulldog, a non-profit investigative journalist outfit, after it sued the FBI for the records in 2015.The FBI made the presentation to the 9/11 Review Commission in secret on April 25, 2014.
The agency redacted 13 pages and completely deleted an additional nine pages from the report, which was believed to have originally contained about 60 pages, before releasing it in March. The document, released under America’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was also obtained by public records database Government Attic, which posted it on-line yesterday.
According to Florida Bulldog, which has conducted a long-running investigation into Saudi Arabia’s possible link to the west’s most notorious terrorist attack, the censored pages detail “the transfer of money prior to and funding of the attacks”. Some of the slides released are blank except for their tantalising titles which include Funding of the 9/11 Attacks; Early to Mid-2001: Additional Funding; August 2011: Reserving 9/11 Tickets; and KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) Non-Immigrant Visa Application.
When the FBI finally released its internal slide show to the public in March, 13 pages were redacted and nine had been completely deleted from the presentation.
Of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Virginia, 15 were Saudi Arabian. In documents tendered to court earlier this year, Florida Bulldog alleged the FBI improperly redacted key intelligence related to the funding of the 9/11 attacks.
In May, Miami judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled the document should be largely opened for public inspection, after the FBI failed to establish Freedom of Information Act Exemption 7(E) applied. The exemption applies when the information would “disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions”.
The FBI asked her to reconsider, arguing that while the document did not discuss techniques, it could still reveal some techniques used. As an example it cited a photograph taken from a security camera which could reveal the camera’s location unless redacted. On July 6, Judge Altonaga had a change of heart, siding with the FBI and reversing her May decision, dismissing Florida Bulldog’s application for a Freedom of Information Act trial.
“The court sees no need for further facts to be elicited at trial,” she said.
The pages exempt from disclosure include two slides titled Funding of the 9/11 Attacks and Early to Mid-2001 Additional Funding and others that currently appear blank under the headings: Early to Mid-2000: Pilots/Intended Pilots Arrive US; Investigative Findings regarding hijacker Identification, Financial, Early to Mid-2001: Non-pilots arrive US, July-August 2001: Knife Purchases and August 2001: Reserving 9/11 Tickets as well as four pages titled, Ongoing Investigation.
Lawyers for Florida Bulldog have indicated they may challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Florida Bulldog co-founder and editor Dan Christensen says the FBI’s grounds for continuing to withhold information on the 9/11 attacks are weak and make no sense. He addressed the agency’s concerns, including the mysterious redacted photograph, in an article posted on his website last month. But he believes the real reason for the FBI’s secrecy relates to questions about who financed the 9/11 attacks.
Survivors and relatives of the almost 3000 victims are currently engaged in a fraught civil litigation with Saudi Arabia amid accusations that the kingdom and its official charities were among those who supplied funds. The country has denied any wrongdoing.
“Another page the FBI wants to remain hidden ‘contains specific factors deemed pertinent in the analysis of the actions of the hijackers’ concerning financial transactions before September 11, 2001,” Christensen said.
“(According to the FBI) disclosure of this information would reveal what the FBI already knows about the hijackers’ financial actions and how they were able to stay ‘under the radar’.”