Joe Biden signed an executive order on September 3 allowing for the declassification within six months of some of the material previously classified as state secret.
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Thick black smoke rises from the burning towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan’s New York City neighborhood on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Two days before the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, United States President Joe Biden wants to fulfill his campaign promise to declassify certain documents related to the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. The content of the investigations carried out by the FBI – it mobilized more than 4,000 federal agents – should therefore be revealed within six months after the signing of the presidential decree on September 3.
“It is essential to ensure that the United States government maximizes transparency, only using classification when it is narrowly relevant and necessary,” states the document signed by Joe Biden.
“Thus, information collected and generated as part of the investigation into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 should now be disclosed, unless the strongest possible reasons suggest otherwise. The hypothesis of a partial declassification in the name of national security therefore remains possible, which would limit the scope of the announcement by the US president.
“As always, the devil is in the details,” said Jean-Éric Branaa, lecturer at the University of Paris II Assas and specialist in the United States. “Not declassifying everything for some victims will mean there is a wolf. However, the approximately 1,800 relatives of the victims of the attacks had sent a letter to Joe Biden in early August demanding respect for his electoral promise. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been welcome on Memorial Day at Ground Zero.
The collective of families of victims has been working for several years to recognize the role of Saudi Arabia, convinced of its involvement in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. They are calling on Joe Biden “to allow the release of all documents and information to the 9/11 community that our government has accumulated in its investigation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” As well as “to implement a policy towards the Kingdom which clearly indicates that it must recognize its role in the terrorist attacks”.
Of the nineteen hijackers responsible for the attacks, fifteen of them were Saudi nationals. They were known to the Saudi intelligence services, suspected of having covered their operations with the duplicity of Wahhabi power. According to Jean-Éric Branaa, there is no evidence at this time to implicate the leaders of one of the main allies of the United States in the Middle East. Conversely, the failings of the FBI and the CIA in their consideration of the jihadist threat were highlighted from the outset.
“Perhaps documents will show the Saudi state’s involvement, but at this time it is not. A lot of Saudi figures have been blamed for having financed the operation out of their personal wealth, but it does not go any further, “recalls the Iris researcher. Since 2001, no president, neither George W. Bush, nor Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump, has ventured to declassify the FBI investigation. In 2016, the Democratic president even vetoed a bill calling on justice to hold the Saudi kingdom to account.
“Everyone needs the other: I don’t think this will change anything in US-Saudi Arabia relations,” said Jean-Éric Branaa. The financial stakes are high: Saudi Arabia, which has always denied any involvement in the attacks, is the leading importer of US arms. For Washington, Riyadh represents one of the main allies against the common Iranian enemy at a time of growing tensions in the Arab-Persian Gulf and the resumption of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
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