WEB DESK: There is a push to declassify 28 pages of the more than 800-page congressional report on 9/11 that can at present only be viewed by members of the US Congress – pages whose introduction suggests “specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States.”
This push came to the notice of the public during an interview given by former Senator (Democrat) Bob Graham (co-chairman of a joint congressional commission that investigated the attacks) and the current Governor of Florida, to a television programme ’60 minutes’, in which he contended that “it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education – could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States”.
He later added that “people would be surprised by the information” as the pages disclose incidents where high-ranking Saudi officials appeared to be helping some of the hijackers. Other former senators who were members of the commission as well as the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have urged the President and the FBI to open the records. Also supporting this move are lawyers representing the families of 9/11 victims as well as those seeking the right of the public to make an informed decision on the 9/11 perpetrators.
In a move to stop the declassification of the pages that may lead to sovereign governments being liable to be sued in US courts, the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, stated “Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of funding. But we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation.” Congressman Adam Schiff, the current ranking Democrat in the Select Committee on Intelligence, argues that the pages should be declassified as it would end once and for all speculation of any Saudi government’s involvement in the attacks.
The Saudi response has been to inform the Obama administration through its Foreign Minister Adel el Jubeir that in the event that the US Congress withdraws sovereign immunity provisions the kingdom would sell 750 billion dollars worth of US assets it holds before they are frozen by the US courts as a consequence of cases filed against the country. A decision to do so would not only have serious repercussions on the US economy but also on the Saudi economy which is already reeling from historically low oil prices. Domestic critics of the Obama administration argue that the government’s defence of this provision is premised on its desire to protect its close relations with the kingdom, relations that are already strained subsequent to the US administration’s decisions with respect to Syria, Iran and Yemen.
Be that as it may, there is a real danger that other countries may also withdraw the sovereign immunity provisions for the US government in the event that the US Congress does so, which would pave the way for other countries reciprocating. Numerous court cases against the US government would then surface in Europe (including cases of rendition) and in Asian countries including Pakistan where drone strikes have killed hundreds of innocent tribals, including women and children, had been dismissed as collateral damage.
To conclude, there is no doubt that if the US Congress enacts a law withdrawing immunity to sovereigns, the general public in most countries would be supportive of the withdrawal of sovereign immunity provisions and needless to add interventionist policies by the world’s sole superpower may be the most challenged in courts of law around the world.
Source: Business Recorder