There has been widespread speculation that these pages concern Saudi Arabia, its wealthy citizens and the financing of terrorist operations. But whatever is actually contained in those 28 pages that were ultimately redacted from the report, the families have been waiting 14 years to read what our own government wrote. We don't want to wait one minute more.
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 3,000 lives. True, Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar, had the decency to look family members in the eye and apologize publicly. "Your government failed you, and I failed you," he told us before the 9/11 Commission that investigated the attacks
. "We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed you. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness."
Yet fact-finding proved difficult. The co-chairs of the 9-11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, for example, took to the opinion page of The New York Times
in 2008 to say that some in the CIA had "obstructed our investigation."
Meanwhile, the pretrial hearings of the five men accused of conspiring to plan and execute 9/11 are mired in the swamps of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
. The facts of the case have not yet been presented. Almost 15 years after September 11, and there is still no trial date in sight. Yes -- you read that correctly. Five men. Fifteen years. No trial.
In the intervening period, the American people have been distracted by a war, supposedly aimed at bringing down a bad guy, Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the suffering of 9/11. So, we can spend billions on a disastrous war unrelated to September 11, but we cannot find a way to bring five suspects to trial?
For the family members of those lost 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, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
But what exactly can justice mean if we don't have all the facts? Justice relies on truth, and truth rests on transparency. There may be some important truths in those 28 pages, and 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. That is why I now choose to pledge allegiance to truth, wherever it leads and whether the final destination is a nation, an ideology or individuals. I invite you to join me.
There are, of course, some who would call 9/11 family members naïve, claiming we don't understand the world order, international relations or geopolitical maneuvering. Maybe they are correct. But those critics might themselves be missing the most important point: that the primary and fundamental function of the state is to protect its citizens. Not its image, nor its economic interests, not even its allies. And on that key point, the United States collectively failed in that role on September 11.
We cannot allow such a failure again. But to understand what went wrong, then we must have all the factual information available. That is why senators and representatives alike -- and our President -- should take bold and decisive steps to release those 28 pages. Immediately.