Fear of stalling as U.S. intelligence chief says Congress must OK release of 28 pages

By Dan Christensen, 

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Photo: CNN

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Photo: CNN

In a development that could delay the release of 28 classified pages from Congress’s report about Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11, the head of the nation’s intelligence community has told a delegation seeking their release that the ultimate decision about whether to make those pages public would be made by Congress.

Former Sen. Bob Graham recounted Tuesday evening’s hour-long meeting with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in an interview with

“He described himself as being a proponent of transparency and would be forward-leaning on the release of the 28 pages,” said Graham. “The surprise we heard was that after the president makes the decision about whether or not to release them, and if so in what form, they’ll send it back to Congress.”

Graham, who co-chaired Congress’s Joint Inquiry into 9/11 in 2002, said the idea of adding Congress to the declassification mix is new. “I’ve talked with numerous people in the White House and they’ve never suggested that anyone other than the president would make the decision to release. I don’t know where Clapper got this idea, and I hope it’s not just another stalling tactic.”

Graham said it is unnecessary to involve Congress now. “This was a document the Congress was prepared to make public 14 years ago, but the Executive Branch intervened and said there were unstated reasons as to why these pages could not be released,” he said.

Such a move would just add “another unexpected step to the process with a body which has a reputation of being slow to make decisions. Look what’s happening today about the Zika epidemic. Congress can’t decide whether to appropriate money to prevent it.”

Joining Graham in meeting with the nation’s intelligence chief were Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), the initial co-sponsors of House Resolution 14, which urges President Obama to declassify the 28-page chapter on foreign support for the 9/11 hijackers. The resolution has 58 co-sponsors. Senate Bill 1471 would require the president to declassify the 28 pages.

A “candid” meeting

Graham described Clapper, a retired Air Force general, as “very thoughtful and very generous to us with his time. I think he was candid in his thoughts.”

Aside from the surprise caveat about Congress, Graham called the meeting “encouraging,” and an indication that the Executive Branch is on track to deliver a decision about the 28 pages by President Obama by mid-June.

“He wasn’t going to tell us things like whether he’s made up his mind and if so what it is, but he outlined the (declassification) process,” said Graham. “He said he is finishing his review which primarily, almost exclusively, relates to the impact of the 28 pages on things like intelligence procedures and potential sources of information. It then goes to an interagency council which includes the State Department, the FBI, the Department of Defense and other agencies.”

That group, which describes itself as a “forum” for possible declassification, is the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP). Its other members include the Justice Department, the CIA, Clapper’s Office of National Intelligence, the National Archives and the president’s National Security Advisor.

President Obama asked Clapper to lead a review of the 28 pages last year. The review process, however, has been underway for nearly three years.

In 2013, Broward Bulldog Inc, which operates the Florida Bulldog, invoked President Obama’s Executive Order 13,526. The 2009 order sets the process for classification by executive agencies and the conditions that require declassification. The Bulldog’s appeal is currently before ISCAP.

Thomas Julin, an attorney in the Miami office of Hunton & Williams, represents the news organization and 9/11 authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan in the matter.

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  • Friendly FYI: Typo


    “very thoughtful and very generous to us in his time. I think he was candid in THIS thoughts.”


  • It is S.1471, not S.471.

  • Obama personally in front of 4other family members said hef woulfcc release the 28 pages 5 years ago when we got bin laden and we had lunch by ground zero what a liar

  • Research was also provided to CIA – 7.2003 regarding storefront money laundering conduits … Great Lakes, WDC, and FL.

    Private fundraising from professional sectors … like physicians. Given the safehavens or radical ideological incubators, perhaps it’s time to investigate the following:

    1. Contributions by affluent Middle Eastern families to US universities and terms of those donations – anticipated expectations?

    2. Use of US media outlets to access broader, radicalized audience. For instance, a minute, business card sized article about a diplomat and US Treasury freezing assets in US and abroad in 2005 that appeared in a FL newspaper; or an amateur video of Arab/Arab-American physicians convened in a wide hospital corridor, celebrating the death and destruction of 9/11; dressed for the big event. The video aired early on 9/12.

    3. Rationale by federal law enforcement agencies to track a target for decades, accumulating evidence of active criminal activity and then sit on it or ignore credible information provided by other sources.

    Interagency information sharing is key.

    4. Originating country – passports. Riyadh vs RESA issue.

    5. Family tentacles – consolidate and constrict – stranglehold.

    6. Acclimation vs. true intent.

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