Saturday, January 03, 2015

Mr. President, Tear Down This Wall Of Classification!

"Mr. President, I call you a liar."

That was Matthew T. Sellito (below), father of one of the victims of the 9/11/01 terrorist bombings, at a news conference in September, 2014.  Mr. Sellito was referring not to the assurance allegedly given to Ronald Breitweiser, whose husband perished that day, nor to Bill Doyle, whose son also went down with the World Trade Center, by President Obama that he would release the document.

Sellito states the President "tells us," in the former's words, "there's a security risk" but that former Representative Lee Hamilton (D-Ind) and former Governor Tom Kean (R-NJ), chairpersons of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States, have told Sellito there is no reason not to release the 28 classified pages of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (permanent, yet select; sounds a little like "compassionate conservatism").

There is no- and never will be- a way to determine whether there is something in those pages whose release would constitute  in some way or to some extent a security threat.  It would appear, however, that the President has at least signaled a willingness to release the pages, redacted by then-President George W. Bush.

Bob Graham, then a great Senator from Florida, and now described by as "the most prominent voice outside government fighting for declassification of the 28 pages," will be holding on January 7 in Washington a news conference advocating release. While revealing scant details, Graham long has confirmed (as have Lynch and Jones, who have read the report) that the 28 pages pertain to involvement of the Saudi government in the attacks.

The Floridian will be joined as host by U.S. Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) and Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA), who will be introducing in the 114th Congress a non-binding resolution (originally introduced into the 113th Congress in 2013 and endorsed by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, below), with an equal number of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, calling on the President to release the 28 pages.  Not joining them will be Secretary of State Kerry, former Secretary of State Clinton, and Vice-President Biden, who have remained silent, though they were among the 46 members of the upper chamber who wrote then-President Bush in 2003 urging declassification.

Of the 46 Senators, 44 were Democrats, one Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont, and the other Republican Sam Brownback (then a senator from Kansas and now a disastrous governor).

One could write that off as mere partisanship on behalf of the Democratic Party. One could, but one would be wrong.  There never has been sufficient reason to keep this information from the American people. There was little reason, additionally, for the House Intelligence Committee- on a party-line vote of 8 to 4- to deny access of the controversial portion to Democratic Representative Alan Grayson of Florida.

Kudos to the Republicans who want to hold Barack Obama's feet to the fire. But the Repubs on the House Intelligence Committee- who otherwise would have effected release (from Grayson) of the pages- are covering also for Barack Obama's immediate predecessor.  But so is Barack Obama, member with both GW Bush and GHWB of  the extremely elite club of ex-Presidents of the United States of America.   At best, declassification will remind the public of the death of nearly 3,000 Americans while George W. Bush dithered. At worst, it will reveal the Bush family deeply involved with the Saudi royal family. Most likely, it would be something in between.

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," declared Shakespeare's Marcellus.  Now, something is  rotten in the state of the United States of America and only public pressure will root it out at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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