Opinion

Declassify Top Secret Pages of the 9/11 Commission Report

No justification for withholding the information, former Sen. Byron Dorgan writes

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota says the classification of 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report was "an insult to the American people." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the shadow of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, a bipartisan, independent commission was formed to do a comprehensive investigation, including tracking who was responsible.

In 2004, the commission issued its investigative report. However, 28 pages were labeled “Top Secret” by the Bush administration and were excluded from the published report. As a result, the American people have never learned the contents of the 28 pages, and they rightfully wonder, what are they hiding?

Prior to retiring from the Senate, I went to the Intelligence Committee room in the Capitol where the full report is available and I read the classified 28 pages. Members of Congress may request to read the 28 pages in the committee room, but cannot take notes or make copies of the content.

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Because it is classified “Top Secret," I am not allowed to disclose the contents of the 28 pages. However, in my judgment, there is not now, and never has been, a justification to withhold this information from the American people. The information I read is an important part of the story of the attack against our country.

The information included on those pages is consequential to understanding the full story of the 9/11 attack. It provides evidence that is not contained in the published 9/11 commission report.

Frankly, it’s a scandal that this information has been withheld from the American people for the past 12 years. Obviously, a report that withholds 28 pages of critical information about the attack is not a “full and complete” report. The classification of that information was an insult to the American people.

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Those 28 pages should be declassified and made available to the public now. It’s long past the time for Congress and the president to share this information with the American people.

Byron Dorgan is a former Democratic senator from North Dakota. He is a senior policy adviser at Arent Fox LLP.

 

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