Business I cover Congress and the Biden Administration.
President Joe Biden has asked the Justice Department and other federal agencies to see which documents can be declassified from the FBI’s investigation related to the attacks on September 11, 2001, potentially unearthing new details 20 years later.
The executive order directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to release any declassified documents over the next six months.
The order fulfills Biden’s campaign promise to review information and release some of it where it would not risk national security, NBC Newsreported, but it likely comes too late for any information to be released before the 20th anniversary of the attacks, as some family members of victims had requested.
Families of people who died in the attacks said in an August 6 statement that Bidenwould not be welcomeat this year’s September 11 memorials unless he released documents about the role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) supports the order, saying in a statement that Americans, especially families of people who were killed in the attacks, “have a right to know the full story.”
“Today, I signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to oversee a declassification review of documents related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s September 11th investigations,” Biden said in a statement Friday afternoon.
In an August 9court filing—in a case brought by families of victims against Saudi Arabia—the Justice Department said the FBI would begin reviewing, and releasing, documents that it had previously kept hidden, theNew York Timesreported. Biden said hewelcomedthe move. Lawsuits against Saudi Arabia were combined in 2017 into a single case, the Associated Pressreported, the year after Congress overrode President Obama’s veto to enact a law allowing families to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for its alleged role supporting the attacks. While declassified materials have shown that Saudi diplomatshad communicatedwith some hijackers—the vast majority of whom, like Osama bin Laden,were Saudi nationals—investigations into the attack havenot yet shownthat the kingdom had taken part in the plot.