The commission co-chairmen, former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, put out a lengthy statement on Friday. They said their investigators worked off leads in those 28-pages, but could find no evidence that the Riyadh Islamic government was involved in the al Qaeda attack by 19 hijackers, 15 of them Saudi nationals.
“We believe it important the public understand what the commission did with regard to the 28 pages,” the two said in their statement.
They portrayed the secret passages, not as confirmed, smoking-gun findings, but “raw, unvetted material that came to the FBI.”
“That material was then written up in FBI files as possible leads for further investigation,” the statement read. “The 28 pages were a summary of some of those reports and leads, as of the end of 2002. Before completing its work, the congressional panel never had a chance to check out any of these leads. The 28 pages, therefore, are comparable to preliminary law enforcement notes, which are generally covered by grand jury secrecy rules. Those rules exist to avoid implicating people in serious crimes without the benefit of follow-up investigation to determine if such suspicions are substantiated.”
The former chairmen said the joint intelligence panel named names in the 28 pages, meaning releasing the raw pages would implicate people in “the worst mass murder ever carried out in the United States.”