Nearly 20 years after the terrorist attacks, survivors & families are still demanding justice and accountability
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and today announced the introduction of their bipartisan legislation to improve governmental transparency regarding federal 9/11 investigations. For nearly 20 years, 9/11 survivors and victims’ families have fought tirelessly to identify and bring to justice all of the perpetrators of the attacks. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also sponsored the legislation. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.-08) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The September 11th Transparency Act of 2021 will ensure that the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declassify, as appropriate, the documents that could identify additional co-conspirators. Blumenthal and Menendez unveiled the legislation today alongside survivors and families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Click here for a link to today’s press conference.
“For nearly 20 years, the 9/11 files have been shrouded in secrecy, keeping the American people in the dark and preventing the survivors and victims’ families from seeking justice. This bipartisan bill would simply require a review of these documents to determine whether or not they really need to remain secret,” said Blumenthal. “As the 20th anniversary of the attacks approaches, the American people deserve to know what their government knows about these attacks and the survivors and victims’ families deserve their fair day in court.”
“If the United States government is sitting on any documents that may implicate Saudi Arabia in the events of 9/11, these families and the American people have a right to know,” said Menendez. “If information is power, then we must give our 9/11 families access to that information and any power it provides them as they carry forward their search for truth, justice, and accountability for the September 11th attacks.”
“Nothing should get in the way here, no political or diplomatic or geo-military consideration should get in the way, of simple justice after something like 9/11,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “With all the horror that was inflicted upon the American people and the 9/11 families, who have lobbied for years in pursuit of answers, and the members of Congress who have stood beside them, they must get those answers and they must get them now.”
“Twenty years after 9/11, Americans still don’t have the transparency they deserve about this horrific terrorist attack. Our bipartisan September 11 Transparency Act of 2021 will help bring justice and accountability for survivors and families. I’m proud to work alongside my colleagues Senators Menendez and Blumenthal to get this bill passed,” said Gillibrand.
“As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, families in New Jersey and across the country who lost loved ones are still grieving and still in pursuit of justice and accountability,” said Booker. “This bipartisan legislation will help give 9/11 families the transparency and access to information they deserve.”
“America lost 2,977 precious souls in vicious terrorist strikes on September 11. We shall never forget what happened nor let it happen again,” said Rep. Jeffries. “To this day, survivors and families are still demanding justice and accountability, and I am proud to join with Senators Menendez and Blumenthal to introduce legislation to help bring further transparency to federal investigations into the attacks.”
The September 11th Transparency Act of 2021 will require the DOJ the CIA and the DNI to consider declassifying key documents related to the federal 9/11 investigations. The bill doesn’t require the agencies to declassify any specific documents, but the agencies must complete declassification reviews through their appropriate existing processes.
The DOJ, CIA and DNI must provide Congress with justification if they decide not to declassify a document or record. The bill is modeled on the declassification review of the Bin Laden raid that Congress passed in 2014.
"Twenty years ago, we witnessed in horror the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor," said Cornyn. "As the nation continues to heal from the devastation of 9/11, many families who lost loved ones still want answers. This bipartisan bill will help bring closure to many who desperately need it, and I'm proud to help Sen. Menendez usher it through Congress."
“It’s been nearly 20 years since the September 11 attacks, and while the world has changed greatly, the public still doesn’t have the full picture of everything that led up to that day and all who were involved. Victims and their families deserve answers,” said Grassley. “This bill instructs the executive branch to pull back the veil and make as much 9/11 records as transparent as possible.”
“The truths we seek with the 9/11 Transparency Act is not just for us but for all our fallen heroes. May every brave warrior, rescue worker, and those who have died from 9/11 related illnesses rest in peace,” said Terry Strada, National Co-Chair of 9/11 Community United. “We sincerely thank Senator Menendez, Senator Blumenthal, and these senators introducing the 9/11 Transparency Act, another great bipartisan effort, from our esteemed leaders and ask that the entire body of Congress act bravely and cohesively in support of our right to know what the government has uncovered and about who facilitated the attacks on the U.S. 20 years ago. Yes, let us never forget but never let it happen again.”
“20 years is far too long to go for anybody, especially for us, but for the American people as well, to go without knowing the truth. It's just nauseating and painful and difficult, but we are so proud to stand with our champions and our supporters,” said Brett Eagleson, National Co-Chair of 9/11 Community United. “I think we're so close and I think we're going to get there. I have all the confidence in the world that we're finally going to cross the finish line and on the 20th year anniversary the families will finally get the closure that they deserve.”
Blumenthal has continuously championed greater transparency regarding federal 9/11 investigations and has advocated on behalf of the survivors and victim’s families to ensure they get the answers they deserve.
Last month, Sens. Menendez and Blumenthal sent a letter to Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray to review past decisions to invoke the state secrets privilege. Similarly, the month before, the senators co-led a letter with Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.-10) to AG Garland urging him to reassess the DOJ’s decision to assert the state secrets privilege in litigation brought by 9/11 victims and family members.
In May 2020, Sens. Menendez, Blumenthal and Booker released a statement in support of 9/11 families’ efforts to obtain relevant documents from the FBI. In 2018, Sen. Menendez cosponsored a resolution urging the declassification of information regarding the 9/11 attacks.
Please click HERE for a copy of the bill text.