Paul joins crusade to expose secret 9/11 documents

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat to watch for on Day 2 at the GOP convention Cyber squatters sitting on valuable VP web addresses Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE is joining a crowd of House lawmakers intent on revealing to the public 28 pages of secret text about Sept. 11, 2001.

The Kentucky Republican and presidential candidate — fresh off a closely watched battle to kill some government surveillance powers — led the charge on Tuesday with legislation to force the disclosure of pages extracted from a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks. The pages were blacked out by the Bush administration on national security grounds.

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“We cannot let page after page of blanked-out documents be obscured by a veil,” Paul said at a packed Capitol press conference on Tuesday, flanked by fellow lawmakers and families of victims of the 2001 attack. “We owe it to these families, and we cannot let this lack of transparency erode trust and make us feel less secure.”

Paul’s legislation follows a similar bill in the House, which has been led by Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have signed on to co-sponsor Paul’s bill.

For years, Jones and other lawmakers have been fighting for the release of the pages, which are believed to paint senior officials within Saudi Arabia as complicit in the terror attacks. 

“We all are calling today for the release of these 28 pages,” Paul said.

In addition to his stand-alone bill, Paul said he would introduce the measure as an amendment to the defense authorization bill in the Senate next week. 

The push has gained the backing of former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who oversaw a separate congressional inquiry in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The 28 pages are very important and will, I think, inform the American people and, in so doing, will cause the American government to reconsider the nature of our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Graham said on Tuesday. “But beyond that, these are emblematic of a pattern of withholding information unnecessarily and to the detriment of the American people.”

Some lawmakers who have read the pages disagree with their characterization about Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden's home country.

Perhaps surprisingly, Saudi Arabia supports releasing the pages. Keeping them secret, the kingdom has said, has allowed people to suspect that their contents are worse than they actually are.

Even though the documents remain secret to the public, some lawmakers are able to view the pages by requesting permission from the House Intelligence Committee. More than 30 such requests were granted during the last Congress. Twenty-five such requests were granted in 2013-2014, and 17 have been so far this year, according to a committee spokesman.