Wednesday, Aug 06, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
First, many Democrats on Capitol Hill want a new investigation on the substance of those 28 classified pages out of a 900-page Congressional Panel Inquiry report. This section of the report is said to cover the involvement of foreign nations and sources in the 9/11 incidents; and unnamed officials and those who have supposedly read this classified section say that much of this pertains to Saudi Arabia.
Second, Democrats want that Saudi nationals to be quizzed in the United States; or at the very least, only by American investigative and intelligence agencies and without the presence of Saudi officials.
Very recently, the Saudi Foreign Minister air-dashed to Washington and had a meeting with the President, George W. Bush, in which he is said to have asked for declassification of the secret section. Mr. Bush rejected the request saying that it made "no sense" to do so at the time of ongoing investigations; and declassifying will only help the "enemy". For its part, Saudi Arabia has expressed outrage at any suggestion that the Kingdom was even indirectly involved in the terror attacks.
Now, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency are getting ready to quiz Mr. Al Bayoumi all over again on the events leading up to 9/11. The FBI is said to have sent a team to Saudi Arabia over the weekend for the purpose; and the questioning is expected to start soon.
Over the weekend, Mr. Al Bayoumi has said that while he is ready to talk to the FBI or the CIA, this would have to be done in the presence of Saudi officials and in Saudi Arabia a proposition that has come under fire from senior Democrats. The senior Senator from New York, Charles Schumer, has written to the Attorney General asking him to reject the conditions.
"Accepting these conditions, especially since Bayoumi appears to be a conduit through which Saudi officials were involved in 9/11, would show that the Bush administration continues to coddle the Saudi regime about its links to terrorism", Mr. Schumer said.
All that the White House is saying is that the U.S. is looking forward to having "access" to Mr. Al Bayoumi and "questioning" him; and that there is cooperation from Saudi Arabia.
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