President Joe Biden reiterated on Monday his campaign pledge to declassify documents pertaining to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, adding that he welcomed a new filing by the Department of Justice to conduct a "fresh review" of the available documents.
Why it matters: Biden's comments come days after families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks told the president in a statement to not attend next month's 20th-anniversary memorials unless he declassifies documents that they believe will show Saudi leaders supported the attacks.
- "[W]e cannot in good faith, and with veneration to those lost, sick, and injured, welcome the president to our hallowed grounds until he fulfills his commitment," the families wrote in the statement.
- "Twenty years later, there is simply no reason — unmerited claims of 'national security' or otherwise — to keep this information secret," they added.
What he's saying: Biden on Monday said he is committed to "ensuring the maximum degree of transparency under the law."
- "[I] welcome the Department of Justice’s filing today, which commits to conducting a fresh review of documents where the government has previously asserted privileges, and to doing so as quickly as possible," Biden said in a statement.
- "I know well the all-consuming grief of losing someone you love so suddenly. I can only imagine the added pain these families have endured, spending 20 years pursuing accountability and justice," he added.
- "My heart and my prayers continue to be with the 9/11 families who are suffering, and my Administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community."
9/11 Community United, a group for families and survivors of the attacks, reacted to Biden's statement by saying they appreciated that Biden acknowledged the "long-standing questions" surrounding Saudi Arabia’s involvement but called the president's words "half-hearted."
- "This announcement is a necessary but insufficient step towards transparency, accountability and above all, justice," per the statement.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated.