Names are more than sound and smoke: „State secret“ 9/11

For years, investigative journalists at Florida Bulldog (resp. BrowardBulldog.org) have insisted on obtaining information from the FBI about Saudi supporters of the alleged 9/11 hijackers. These days, US Attorney General William Barr must decide whether a concrete name in this context is to be regarded as a „state secret“ of the United States.

By Lars Schall

“Names are mere sound and smoke.” – J.W.v.Goethe, Faust, Part One.

Since September 2011, the Florida Bulldog (resp. BrowardBulldog.org) investigative journalism network has been reporting on a secret investigation conducted by the FBI into a Saudi family called al-Hijji, which lived in Sarasota, Florida before they abruptly left their center of life (and their house, cars, clothes, furniture, and groceries in the fridge) about two weeks before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to Florida Bulldog, authorities later found telephone records and camera footage of the entrance area connecting Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji’s house to alleged 9/11 hijackers, including Mohamed Atta.

The FBI kept its Sarasota investigation strictly secret for a decade.

In connection with the FBI’s Post-9/11 investigations, Florida Bulldog has been trying for years to obtain certain information. From June 2016 onwards, for example, the organization insisted in court to disclose never publicly sighted FBI information about the funding of the 9/11 attacks. In the summer of 2017, a district court in South Florida ruled that the FBI had the right to withhold this specific information. (1)

These days it is up to the power of decision of US Attorney General William Barr to decide whether a key name in the 9/11 case should be treated as a „state secret“. And again an FBI investigation is in the center, and it is again Florida Bulldog, which made the corresponding FBI report public (see here). This time it is about the South California scene in the context of the alleged Al-Qaida hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Originally, Barr had until last Friday to decide whether to take the unusual step of claiming a „state secret privilege“ to hide who gave the order to help those 9/11 actors before the terrorist attacks took place. (Probably the name in question is that of a Saudi citizen.) (2) Before the deadline for the decision expired, US Department of Justice officials felt compelled to ask for more time. A corresponding request for an extension of the deadline until September 12 was filed with a federal court in New York. A judge granted the request. (3)

Update (Sept. 13): Here is the report about William Barr’s decision:

„Justice Dept.won’t cite state secrets to hide identity of person who ‘tasked’ Saudis to aid 9/11 hijackers, but Barr withholds rest of hidden info in 2012 report“, Florida Bulldog, September 12, 2019, published under: https://www.floridabulldog.org/2019/09/justice-wont-cite-state-secrets-to-hide-name-in-9-11-case/.

Sources:

(1) Dan Christensen: “Miami judge rules out FOIA trial, says FBI documents on 9/11 funding to remain secret”, Florida Bulldog, July 5, 2017 under: http://www.floridabulldog.org/2017/07/miami-judge-rules-out-foia-trial/. See further for the case in Sarasota Dan Christensen / Anthony Summers: “Did the 9/11 hijackers have accomplices? Once secret FBI records spark push to find out”,  Florida Bulldog, April 18, 2013 under: https://www.floridabulldog.org/2013/04/did-the-911-hijackers-have-accomplices-once-secret-fbi-records-spark-push-to-find-out/.

(2) Dan Christensen: “U.S. Attorney General to decide whether a key name in 9/11 case is a ‘state secret’”, Florida Bulldog, September 2, 2019 under: https://www.floridabulldog.org/2019/09/u-s-attorney-general-barr-to-decide-key-9-11-name-is-state-secret/.

(3) Eric Tucker: “U.S. weighs whether it will release name sought in 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi government”, PBS, September 6, 2019 under: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/u-s-weighs-whether-it-will-release-name-sought-in-9-11-lawsuit-against-saudi-government.

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