With every day that goes by I have to wonder more and more what precisely is to be found in those missing 28 pages of the 9/11 report. If you want an in depth look at why it’s so important to learn more about what the government knows regarding “our Saudi friends” you should read Andrew McCarthy’s recent essay for a first hand account. Why would the government want to keep the information secret this long after the attacks?
That’s a good question and it may find a parallel in the fact that some of the top people in the federal government don’t seem to even want a lawsuit against the Saudis to move forward. The President and the Speaker of the House each seem to have cold feet when it comes to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. Both are curious cases, and the first is that of Paul Ryan. He’s not exactly saying “no” to the idea, but he certainly sounds like he wants us to be cautious. (Reuters)
House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday he thinks Congress should review a proposed measure to allow U.S. citizens to sue the Saudi government over the Sept. 11 attacks, saying it was important to consider the impact on the U.S.-Saudi alliance.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives, Ryan said “we need to review” the Saudi lawsuit bill to “make sure we are not making mistakes with our allies.” He said the issue did not come up during his recent visit to the Middle East.
That phrase, making mistakes with our allies, is troubling to say the least. In a more black and white world we would be drawing lines between what is right and what is wrong. Between Good and Evil if you prefer. Either there are culpable individuals in Saudi Arabia or there aren’t, and the previously disclosed evidence certainly makes it seem likely, if not certain.
At the same time, there’s a big split on the subject among the Democrats. President Obama is threatening to veto the bill if it arrives on his desk, but the top Democrats in Congress – including Harry Reid – want to press forward. (Politico)
A dispute between Senate Democrats and the White House over legislation that would allow Saudi Arabia to be held legally responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks deepened on Tuesday when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he backed the bill despite objections from President Barack Obama…
“I support it, and most everyone in the caucus supports it,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. The White House doesn’t “particularly like it, but that’s OK. … I think that we should move forward on this legislation, and I hope we can.”
What’s holding back both the bill and the release of the 28 pages? There was a time when we had a lot more to fear from Saudi Arabia because of their stranglehold on the global oil supply, but their clout in that area has faded considerably. It’s true that they’ve been a somewhat more active ally in the fight against terrorism (or at least some terrorism) lately, but they’ve always been rather dodgy on that front.
I understand that we don’t exactly have a long list of allies in the region and you don’t want to shed any of them without cause, but there are some rather large principles at stake here. Sunshine and transparency can be painful up front but they’re often the best medicine in the end. If this bill is shut down and the White House stands firm on refusing to release these documents, perhaps it’s time for some of that mythical bi-partisan cooperation we’re always hearing about. The President and the Speaker should sit down for a prime time address and tell everyone precisely what’s going on and why we don’t deserve to have the books opened up on these questions.