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Khashoggi report spurs 9/11 families to push Biden to release documents on Saudi role in attack

The families of 9/11 victims are asking President Joe Biden's administration to release classified documents about the Saudi role in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The request piggybacked on the government's decision to release an intelligence report Friday that said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  

'I don't understand how our government can release the documents on the murder of one man two years ago but not the documents on the murder of 3,000 people 20 years ago,' Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the 9/11 families who lost his father in the World Trade Center, told Yahoo News, which first reported the families' request.  

President Joe Biden's administration is facing pressure from 9/11 families who want Biden and his attorney general pick, Merrick Garland, to release still-classified documents about Saudi involvment in 9/11, which were blocked during the Trump era 

The 9/11 families were inspired to act after the Biden administration released a report Friday that said journalist Jamal Khashoggi's (left) murder was approved by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) 

Nearly 20 years after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the victims' families still don't know the full scope of Saudi involvment 

The families sent a letter to Biden and Merrick Garland, the president's pick for attorney general who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate later this week. 

'We implore you to stop this travesty of justice and ensure that the Department of Justice immediately provide the documents and cooperation we need so that we can finally hold Saudi Arabia accountable,' the letter said, according to Yahoo. 

Nearly 2,000 family members of 9/11 victims signed on. 

'We pray that after almost two decades of seeking accountability, our struggle will finally end by the upcoming 20th anniversary of the darkest day in American history,' the letter continued. 'We have waited long enough.'   

The families' lawyer, James Kreindler, told Yahoo that the release of the Khashoggi report gives his clients fresh leverage to demand the 9/11 documents be released too. 

Those documents include a 2012 FBI report on the suspected links between Saudi government officials and the  hijackers. 

The 9/11 families hit a bump in the road during the last administration when Attorney General Bill Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell prevented the release of additional FBI disclosures that were sought as evidence in a civil lawsuit against the Saudi government.   

In April 2020, Barr, Grenell and other Trump administration officials used last-minute court filings to stop the release, arguing that the disclosures would imperil national security. 

They couldn't even reveal their justification for why the release could harm national security, because that could too, the officials argued, according to ProPublica's reporting. 

Another lawyer for the families, Steven Pounian, told ProPublica at the time, 'The extraordinary lengths that they're going to here suggest that there must be some deep, dark secret that they're still trying very hard to hide after almost 20 years.' 

'But who are they protecting?' Pounian asked. 'Something might be a Saudi government secret. But how can these be secrets that still need to be kept from the American people after all this time?'    

The 9/11 families have allies in the Senate - Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Bob Menendez of New Jersey - who in a separate letter urged the Justice Department to review the Trump administration's decision to withhold the material.  

Yahoo also reported that the U.S's government's Public Interest Declassification Board, which makes recommendations about potential disclosures, is expected to look into the 9/11-related material. 

That could come within the next few weeks.     

The 9/11 Commission's 2004 report found that while 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, investigators found no evidence of the Saudi government funding or approving the attack. 

The 9/11 families first sued the Saudi government in 2003, but federal law at the time shielded the foreign government from lawsuits in American courts. Congress overruled President Barack Obama's veto to change the law in 2016. 

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