Nearly 1,800 Americans directly impacted by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, are demanding President Joe Biden keep his promise to declassify federal government evidence possibly linking Saudi Arabian leaders to the attacks. If he doesn’t, the group said Biden should not participate in any anniversary events this year.
Victims’ family members, survivors and first responders released a joint statement Friday telling Biden to stay away from anniversary event in N.Y., Shanksville, Pa. and the Pentagon unless he declassifies the evidence, according to NBC News. The group highlighted Biden’s promise to be transparent and release additional information, adding that the president and his administration have seemingly ignored their letters and requests since his election.
“We cannot in good faith, and with veneration to those lost, sick, and injured, welcome the president to our hallowed grounds until he fulfills his commitment,” they wrote in a statement reviewed by NBC.
“Since the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission in 2004 much investigative evidence has been uncovered implicating Saudi government officials in supporting the attacks,” the statement continued. “Through multiple administrations, the Department of Justice and the FBI have actively sought to keep this information secret and prevent the American people from learning the full truth about the 9/11 attacks.”
Brett Eagleson, whose dad died in the World Trade Center attacks, said the group is “at our wits’ end with our own government.”
“We are frustrated, tired and saddened with the fact that the U.S. government for 20 years has chosen to keep information about the death of our loved ones behind lock and key,” Eagleson told NBC News.
Eagleson said he and his cosigners were hopeful after candidate Biden sent them a letter in October vowing to be more transparent about the attacks.
“I intend to be a President for all Americans, and will hear all of their voices,” Biden wrote. “The 9/11 Families are right to seek full truth and accountability. … I will direct my Attorney General to personally examine the merits of all cases where the invocation of privilege is recommended, and to err on the side of disclosure in cases where, as here, the events in question occurred two decades or longer ago.”
Eagleson has singled out the president’s office for the failure to release the documents, saying in an interview, “The buck stops at the president.”
“Twenty years later, there is simply no reason — unmerited claims of ‘national security’ or otherwise — to keep this information secret,” the group wrote. “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.”
After NBC News published the story, a Biden administration official speaking on a condition of anonymity said the Department of Justice is going to start reviewing the documents to determine if they can be made public. They are not likely to be released prior to the 20th anniversary of the attacks.