Saturday marks the 20-year anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and according to the Associated Press, President Joe Biden is expected to speak at memorial events that day at each of the three sites where planes crashed as part of the attack: in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
In doing so, however, Biden will be expressly violating the sole request of a large group of 9/11 victims’ families, survivors, and first responders, who want answers about what really happened on that Tuesday morning two decades ago.
That group has long demanded that the U.S. government release classified materials related to investigations of the terrorist attacks, and earlier this year, they insisted that Biden — who vowed on the campaign trail to release the documents — stay away from the memorial events if he failed to do so.
Release the docs, or don’t show up
NBC News reported in early August that the group of roughly 1,800 individuals, known collectively as the 9/11 Community, had issued something of an ultimatum to President Biden: either release the classified 9/11 documents prior to the 20-year anniversary, or don’t attend any of the memorial events.
The group cited then-candidate Biden’s 2020 pledge to honor their long-sought quest for full transparency.
“We understand President Biden’s desire to mark the solemn occasion of the 20th anniversary at Ground Zero,” the group said in a statement. “However, we cannot in good faith, and with veneration to those lost, sick, and injured, welcome the president to our hallowed grounds until he fulfills his commitment.”
The group reportedly hopes to expose evidence of what they believe to be Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks, either by providing material aid to the hijackers or simply not passing along knowledge of the impending attack that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
In their statement, they “implored” the president to do two things: authorize the release of the 9/11 documents and allow victims’ families to seek justice against Saudi Arabia, and change U.S. policies toward Saudi Arabia to hold it accountable and force an admission of its alleged involvement.
It’s “simply not enough”
For what it’s worth, President Biden announced on Sept. 3 that he had ordered a “declassification review” of the documents that must be completed by the Justice Department within six months.
That is unlikely to satisfy the 9/11 Community’s demands, though, as the August NBC article noted that one of the group’s leaders, Brett Eagleson, had dismissed similar measures by previous presidents as nothing more than a “delay tactic.”
“The promise of a review is simply not enough,” Eagleson told NBC. “Our expectation is that we will begin to receive the information we seek before the 20th anniversary.”
Indeed, the group’s statement made it clear:
[I]f President Biden reneges on his commitment and sides with the Saudi government, we would be compelled to publicly stand in objection to any participation by his administration in any memorial ceremony of 9/11, given its continuation of policies that thwart Americans’ rights to hold accountable those who, known evidence reveals, materially supported the 9/11 hijackers.