Judge: No blanket secrecy for 9/11 documents Saudis want kept secret

By Dan Christensen, 

With support rising in the Senate for a resolution urging a broad declassification of government records related to 9/11, a judge has ruled that Saudi Arabia isn’t entitled to blanket secrecy for documents it produces in court.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn’s Aug. 27 ruling means that certain “highly sensitive” Saudi diplomatic and consular files, financial records and personnel documents could become public.

In response to an earlier court order, the Kingdom on July 31 had produced 3,818 documents, totaling nearly 6,700 pages, to attorneys for 9/11 victims and their families. Those plaintiffs are suing Saudi Arabia in federal court in New York City claiming it helped plan and pay for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. The Saudis have long denied any involvement in the attacks.

About half of the records the Saudis turned over to the court were marked “highly sensitive” and confidential. Included were the personnel jackets of a trio of Saudis, two of whom are Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi agent, and Fahad al-Thumairy, a diplomat and imam at Los Angeles’ King Fahd mosque. Both men were involved in assisting two 9/11 hijackers during the time they were living in Southern California.

Suspected Saudi agent and friend to 9/11 hijackers Omar al-Bayoumi, right, and former Saudi diplomat and Los Angeles Imam Fahad al-Thumairy

A heavily censored 2012 FBI report previously obtained by Florida Bulldog lists the pair as “main subjects” of a then ongoing probe targeting an apparent U.S. support network for those two hijackers, Saudis Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar.

Also produced, the records say, were personnel files of a third man, a little-known Saudi diplomat named Khalid al-Sowailem. The 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia, filed last March, alleges that Sowailem was a senior official of the Ministry of Islamic affairs at the Saudi embassy in Washington who helped fraudulently obtain a U.S. visa for another ministry employee and had him form and operate the Western Somali Relief Agency, a California nonprofit used “to send substantial funds to al Qaeda” before 9/11.

A clash of arguments

The Kingdom wanted those personnel and other records, often written in Arabic, permanently sealed. The 9/11 victims countered that many of those records aren’t entitled to confidentiality and to grant it would violate their First Amendment right to speak publicly about what the records say.

“The Kingdom seeks to presumptively seal the entirety of court filings that contain or even discuss documents that it has unilaterally and without judicial review designated as confidential,” attorneys for the plaintiffs argued.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn

Magistrate Netburn’s ruling last month found that such sweeping confidentiality was not allowed under the rules. A previous protective order that requires both sides to confer about whether certain information should be sealed before any judicial consideration adequately protects sensitive records, she said.

Six days earlier, Aug. 21, a bipartisan group of five senators introduced Senate Resolution 610 “urging the release of information regarding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks upon the United States.” Powerful co-sponsors include Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY; Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-TX, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The nonbinding Senate measure is expected to move quickly to a vote. A parallel bipartisan resolution is pending in the House.

With such action, the 17th anniversary of the attacks is being met with cautious optimism by lawyers for the 9/11 victims.

“We know there were a number of federal agents who tried to get to the truth and who were thwarted,” said New York attorney James Kreindler. “They are retiring now and coming out of the woodwork.”

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Latest comments

  • The only reporter still doing the hard work of following the document and money trail that led to Sept.11,2001 is Dan C. On this Sept.11,I thank him,again.

  • They say revenge is best served as a cold dish. It will be very interesting to see just how interconnected the Saudi royal family, Bin Laden and the other terrorists were. Maybe that will stop some of these crazy conspiracy theorists from spouting nonsense.

    There were a lot of good people lost that day and in the years following. Time to make America united again. God bless the USA.


  • The entire September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center is a great deal more complicated, complex and convoluted than most people understand. It is true that the actual perpetrators were Saudi citizens but who are the true “Dark Hands” behind this vile attack on the United States of America? What role did the One Worlders play in this chapter of American history? What role or part involved the CIA? How are Israel and the Zionists involved in this affair, if at all? If you have any intelligence and curiosity you will ask these questions. Of course, the ultimate truth will not be known for many decades if it is ever uncovered. Just like the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor, Pearl Harbor, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 9/11 is one of those Mysteries of History that will remain obscured, perhaps for ever.

  • I may actually have gained confidence in our judiciary in the last 24 hours. Many thanks for your hard work pursuing and covering this. Bill

  • Saudis were a created patsy just like Harvey Oswald in JFK assasination. The Zio-cons with rogue elements in the neo-con administration of Bush were the real perps!

  • I failed to include the Bush administration, which employed the extremely corrupt Dick Cheney, in the the group of possible “Dark Hands” behind 9/11. Please excuse this oversight. The criminality of the Bush family goes back to their American patriarch, Senator P. Bush. This “Criminal”, as they say, was apparently involved in some nefarious scam against the brilliant N. Tesla.

    Anyway, the actual truth behind 9/11 will probably never be known as the evidence has been “disappeared”, as they say. The CIA learned well from the Nazi Gestapo. The Nazis did an excellent job of destroying all records of Adolph Hitler’s partial Jewish ancestry. The Fuhrer just could not get over the fact that he had a Jewish ancestor. Maybe this explains his virulent Anti-Semitism. Likewise, my part-time research has disclosed that J. Edgar Hoover had a black or Negro ancestor. His knowledge of this apparently led him to develop a very racist mind-set. Please recall that Hoover and the FBI greatly opposed the Reverend Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.

    The Mysteries of History never fail to amaze me.

  • We KNOW, don’t we, that certain Saudis were airlifted out of USA WHEN NO OTHER NON-MILITARY AIRCRAFT WERE ALLOWED TO FLY ? WHY? WHEN? AND BY WHO’S DIRECTION?!

  • Perhaps we should determine why John O. Brennan, was able to OK their Visas, when instructed to stand down.

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