New York, April 19, 2016
Twenty eight pages. That’s what we want. Families of those killed on September 11th want twenty eight pages made public from the 2002 report entitled the Joint Inquiry Into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11th, 2001. There’s talk these pages concern the sovereign state of Saudi Arabia, its wealthy citizens, and financing of terrorist operations. Families have been waiting fourteen years to read what OUR government wrote. We don’t want to wait one minute more. Here’s why –
We’re tired of trade-offs.
No one was ever disciplined, demoted, fired or held accountable in any meaningful way for the penetration of our national security on 9-11, or the loss of nearly three thousand lives. One man, Richard Clarke, former Counterterrorism czar, had the decency to publicly look family members in the eye and say, “I’m sorry. We failed you.”
The co-chairs of the 9-11 Commission, Tom Keane and Lee Hamilton, took to the opinion page of the New York Times in 2008 to describe the CIA’s behavior in response to their investigation “obstruction”.
The pre-trial hearings of the five men accused of conspiring to plan and execute 9-11 is mired in the swamps of Guantanamo Naval Base. Almost fifteen years after September 11th and still no trial date in sight. Yes – you read that correctly. Five men. Fifteen years. No trial.
The American people were distracted by a disastrous war in Iraq, supposedly to get the bad guy Saddam Hussein, who never had anything to do with the suffering of 9-11, but had a lot to do with the suffering of the Iraqi people. When it comes to terror attacks on American soil, he was the wrong guy. But remember those five at Guantanamo??
For those family members who are American citizens, we have been asked since childhood to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. But what exactly does justice mean here? Justice is nearly impossible to come by when we don’t have all the facts. Justice relies on truth, and truth rests on transparency. There may be truth to what’s on the twenty eight pages. There may not. But we won’t know until the documents are made public and our messy democracy can analyze and argue over its content. Today, I’m choosing to pledge allegiance to truth, wherever it leads, be the final destination a nation, an ideology, or individuals. I invite you to join me.
Lastly, there are some who would call 9-11 family members naïve, claiming we don’t understand the world order, international relations, or geopolitical maneuvering. They might be largely correct, but missing the most important point. There’s one thing we understand as crystal clear: the primary and fundamental function of the state is to protect its citizens; not its image, nor its economic interests, not even its allies. The United States collectively failed in that safeguard role on September 11th. We must not fail again. Senators and Representatives alike, and our President, should take bold and decisive steps to release those twenty eight pages. Immediately.
Sister of William Kelly Jr. (Billy)
Co-founder, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows