Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Joe Biden to release secret 9/11 files on Saudi Arabia after victims’ families disinvite him from memorial

Ultimatum was delivered on Friday and a review announced by Monday

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 10 August 2021 08:00 BST
Biden announces troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
Leer en Español

President Joe Biden threw his support behind a “fresh review” of classified documents after families of 9/11 victims said he’s not welcome at 20th-anniversary events unless the secret files are released.

The president said he approves of the Department of Justice reviewing the long-classified material, which families believe will show Saudi Arabian leaders supported the terrorist attack that killed almost 3,000 people.

The move comes after Mr Biden was told by 1,800 family members of 9/11 victims, survivors and first responders that he is not welcome at this year’s memorial unless he declassifies the unreleased evidence.

The ultimatum was made in a letter sent to the White House on Friday, and by Monday the Federal Bureau of Investigation was reviewing what additional information could be released.

Mr Biden said his administration was committed to ensuring the maximum degree of transparency under the law, while adhering to guidance on the invocation of the state secrets privilege.

“In this vein, I welcome the Department of Justice’s filing today, which commits to conducting a fresh review of documents where the government has previously asserted privileges, and to doing so as quickly as possible,” he said in a statement.

In Friday’s letter, the victims’ families said they were hopeful Mr Biden would be the champion of those lost Americans by placing truth, justice and accountability before the interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Twenty years later, there is simply no reason – unmerited claims of ‘national security or otherwise – to keep this information secret,” the letter stated, according to Reuters.

“But if President Biden reneges on his commitment and sides with the Saudi government, we would be compelled to publicly stand in objection to any participation by his administration in any memorial ceremony of 9/11.”

The Justice Department said in a Monday court filing in litigation by the families of victims against Saudi Arabia that the FBI “recently” closed a portion of its investigation into 9/11 and would begin a review of previously secret documents, The New York Times reported.

“The FBI has decided to review its prior privilege assertions to identify additional information appropriate for disclosure,” the department said in a letter. “The FBI will disclose such information on a rolling basis as expeditiously as possible.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in