(Host) Both of Vermont’s U.S. senators say they support efforts to declassify most parts of a new report on the terrorist attacks of September 11. The issue could come before the full Senate next month.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The congressional report has become very controversial because a key 28-page section that deals with the involvement of a foreign country with the terrorist attacks has been classified and blacked out of the final report.
It is widely believed that this part of the report implicates certain members of the royal family’s ruling government in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been urging the Bush administration to release the full report because they say they can’t defend themselves against charges that have not been made public.
Senator James Jeffords says it’s critical to release this information:
(Jeffords) “I think it’s incredibly important that we have a clear understanding of exactly what is in that report and the more information we can get. To give us what happened on 9-11 is so important, not only to reassure ourselves that we know what happened, but we can prevent it from happening in the future. But just to relieve the feeling that there’s things being hidden and there are people that should be gone after or countries that should be looked to. It’s making a mess out of the situation.”
(Kinzel) Senator Patrick Leahy suspects that the Bush administration is withholding this part of the report to cover up its own short comings on intelligence issues:
(Leahy) “Of course it should be declassified. It may embarrass some in the administration, it may embarrass some in Saudi Arabia. If it makes us safer as a nation and makes America safer within our borders, I’ll opt all the time in making Americans safer. That’s far more important than keeping somebody from being embarrassed.”
(Kinzel) The Senate Intelligence Committee is negotiating with the Bush administration over this issue. If more sections are not declassified, the panel may ask the full Senate to support legislation to force the administration to release the controversial sections.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.