Sep 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden issues order on declassification review of 9/11 documents

Photo of the sun rising over the Manhattan skyline with a 9-11-01 memorial in the foreground

The sun rises above One World Trade Center and lower Manhattan in New York City on Sept. 3, 2021. Photo: Gary Hershorn via Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Friday directing the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to pursue a declassification review of documents related to the FBI's investigations of the 9/11 attacks.

Why it matters: Victims' families have told the president they will object to his presence at next week's 20th-anniversary memorial events unless he declassifies documents that they believe will show the Saudi Arabian government supported the attacks.

Driving the news: Biden's order requires Attorney General Merrick Garland to publicly release the declassified documents over the next six months.

  • Even if some information might merit continued protection in the interest of national security, agencies should consider "whether the public interest in disclosure of the information outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure," per the order.

What he's saying: "We must never forget the enduring pain of the families and loved ones of the 2,977 innocent people who were killed during the worst terrorist attack on America in our history," Biden, who campaigned on a promise to declassify 9/11 documents, said in a statement.

  • "My heart continues to be with the 9/11 families who are suffering, and my Administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community. I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward."
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