Biden Orders Declassification Review of 9/11 Investigation
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden ordered the Justice Department to review the FBI’s investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and release declassified documents to the public over the next six months.
“I made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of documents on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America,” Biden said Friday in a statement announcing that he had signed an executive order for the review. “As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honoring that commitment.”
Biden’s announcement comes about a week before the anniversary of the attacks that killed almost 3,000 in the U.S. -- a milestone clouded by the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending the war that began in the wake of the hijackings.
Families of victims of the attacks have long pressed for the FBI’s files to be declassified and publicly released. Some of the families believe that the FBI suppressed or even destroyed evidence pointing to a more substantial connection between the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks, most of whom were Saudi Arabian, and the Saudi government.
Reuters reported Thursday that about 3,500 family members signed a letter asking the inspector general for the Department of Justice to investigate “missing evidence” in the case, alleging that “one or more FBI officials committed willful misconduct with intent to destroy or secrete evidence to avoid its disclosure.”
Saudi Arabia’s government has long denied having any role in the attacks.
About 1,600 people affected by the attacks recently told Biden in a letter not to come to Ground Zero in New York to commemorate the event unless he declassified and released information and documents tied to the FBI investigations, CNN reported.
“My administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community,” Biden said in the statement Friday. “I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward.”
Under Biden’s order, the Justice Department and other relevant agencies will oversee a declassification review of the documents related to the FBI’s investigations, and Attorney General Merrick Garland will be required to release declassified documents publicly over the coming six months.
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