Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), fresh off a fight over the Patriot Act, has turned his attention to another national security battle: declassifying 28 pages of a 2002 Senate inquiry into the cause of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Paul is sponsoring the “Transparency for the Families of 9/11 Victims and Survivors Act,” which would require President Obama to declassify and make public the pages. The GOP presidential candidate said that he does not yet intend to exercise his ability to read the pages on the Senate floor yet, saying he will try “normal legislative procedure” first and personally bring up the issue with Obama.
The issue is a politically charged one, with some claiming the pages will show that Saudi Arabia financed the attacks.
Paul appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference with a bipartisan group of House sponsors, including Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), and Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.). The group were flanked by members of the group 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism.
“The 28 pages in the report of over 800 pages go to the question of who financed 9/11 and they point a strong finger at Saudi Arabia,” Graham said.
Terry Strada, whose husband was killed in the attacks, brought her three children; one was four days old when his father was killed.
“9/11 children are growing up in a world where we can’t trust our own government because too many truths remain hidden about who was ultimately responsible for the murder of our parents,” said Kaitlyn Strada, who was 4 when her father was killed.
Paul pointed out that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, saying that information that has been reported over the years “does raise question about their (the government’s) support” and if it was provided to the hijackers. Massie said the 28 pages establishes a “chain of liability” around the attacks.
“We cannot let page after page of blanked out documents to be obscured by a veil, leaving these family members to wonder if there is additional information surrounding these horrible acts,” Paul said. Members of Congress are allowed to read the documents.
When Paul opened the press conference up for questions, he nudged Graham forward after being asked whether he knew who the Saudi ambassador was at the time of the attacks.
“Is this the same fellow whom George W. nicknamed Bandar Bush because of his longstanding affiliation with the Bush family. Is this the same one?” the man, Barry Kissin, asked. “I only know of one Prince Bandar,” Graham said.
Kissin then asked Paul if he planned to read the 28 pages “into the record, with impunity.”
Paul said he theoretically could. “Those are the rules. Next question,” he said.
A man then asked Graham if he planned to run for president.
“We need some competition,” Paul chimed in. No chance, said Graham — he’s “enjoying retirement.”
Paul later said he does not immediately plan to read the pages on the Senate floor. When asked if he thinks the pages could disrupt the U.S.-Saudi relationship, Paul said, “I see this more as just a search for the truth.”