Bush to Meet Top Saudi on Sept. 11 Report

July 30, 2003 - 0:0
WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister was going to meet President Bush on Tuesday and was likely to ask that portions of a Sept. 11 report related to Saudi Arabia be declassified, U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said.

Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal requested a meeting with Bush and it was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, officials said as carried by Reuters.

A section of the congressional report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on whether there was any Saudi support for the hijackers was classified except for one page.

Saudi Arabia would like to be able to respond to the section.

"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages," Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan said last week.

Democratic Sen. Bob Graham on Monday urged Bush to fully declassify the 28-page section.

"That will permit the Saudi government to deal with any questions which may be raised in the currently censored pages, and allow the American people to make their own judgment about who are our true friends and allies in the war on terrorism," Graham, a Florida Democrat who is running for president, wrote to Bush. The congressional report on intelligence failures related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks released on Thursday said: "Through its investigation, the Joint Inquiry developed information suggesting specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States."

But it went on to say that while the congressional inquiry uncovered material during a review of FBI and CIA documents "suggesting specific potential sources of foreign support for the September 11 hijackers," it did not investigate the accuracy and significance of that information because it was beyond the scope of the inquiry. The report said while the material could suggest evidence of support for the hijackers, it was also possible that further investigation could reveal "legitimate, and innocent, explanations for these associations."

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. The FBI estimates that the Sept. 11 attacks cost $175,000 to $250,000 to finance and the funding mechanism was primarily through the banking and wire transfer system of the United Arab Emirates, the report said.