True to form, the CIA waited until 4:16 p.m. EDT this afternoon to release a trove of documents related to the September 11 attacks. Deep within one of those documents is a section on everything the agency learned after 9/11 about “Issues Relating to Saudi Arabia.” We can now share it here for the first time.
The Saudi Arabia findings comprise literally the final section, the last 30 pages, of the CIA’s massive, 495-page master report—completed in 2005 and never revealed before—on who was accountable for what intelligence failures in the September 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. High-level Saudi involvement in the attacks has long been suggested by many parties in the know; several members of Congress and the 9/11 Commission have urged the release of a still-secret 28-page excerpt of a joint congressional inquiry on the attacks*, believed to detail connections between the House of Saud and the Al Qaeda hijackers. But the U.S.’s special security relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and its reliance on foreign oil, give the federal government incentives to keep that knowledge under wraps.
With that in mind, here are the highlights of the CIA’s findings on Saudi Arabia, with a complete version of the PDF embedded below them.
Here’s the first page:
Here is the first of several figures and diagrams:
Here is a subsection on “implications”:
And a subsection on who was accountable:
Here is the only unredacted text in the entire section, filling up slightly less than one of its 30 pages:
The report emphasized that the JI had made “no final determinations as to the reliability or sufficiency of the information” regarding Saudi Issues raised by its inquiry.
Assessment of the finding
Many of the points of this finding relate to the investigative efforts on the Saudi intelligence presence in the United States and of Saudi officials’ contacts with terrorists in the country, and, as such, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) 9/11 Review Team defers consideration of these to the Department of Justice and the FBI. The Team lacks access to the full range of investigative materials in FBI possession and is therefore unable to either concur or dissent on those points. In addition, the Team encountered no evidence that the Saudi Government knowingly and willingly supported al-Qa’ida terrorists. Individuals in both the Near East Division (NE) and the Counterterrorist Center [REDACTED] told the Team they had not seen any reliable reporting confirming Saudi Government involvement with and financial support for terrorism prior to 9/11, although a few also speculated that dissident sympathizers within the government may have aided al-Qa’ida. A January 1999 Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Office of Transnational Issues Intelligence Report on Bin Ladin’s finances indicated that “limited” reporting suggested that “a few Saudi Government officials” may support Usama Bin Ladin (UBL) but added that the reporting was “too sparse to determine with any accuracy” such support. None of the Saudi Government officials named in that report was a member of a [REDACTED FOR 26 MORE PAGES]
Read the entire document on “Issues Relating to Saudi Arabia” below, and consider yourself fortunate to live in a nation that is so transparent with the citizenry about its shortcomings and its ill-advised strategic arrangements.
Correction: This story initially misidentified the infamous missing “28 pages” as part of the 9/11 Commission’s report. Those pages are actually from Congress’ “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.” The error was mine.