In April, the FBI accidentally revealed the identity of a Saudi diplomat who agents have suspected helped deliver crucial support to the Al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Yahoo News reported.
The Saudi official, Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, had his name blocked out in all but one appearance in the document, with the FBI admitting to Yahoo it was a mistake.
After being contacted by Yahoo News on Monday, Justice Department officials notified the court and withdrew the FBI’s declaration from the public docket.
“The document was incorrectly filed in this case,” it said.
The FBI, US Justice Department and a Saudi government spokesperson all refused to provide a comment.
The interesting part is that, the leak was from a document that was intended to support recent filings by Attorney General William Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell barring the public release of the Saudi official’s name and all related documents, concluding they are “state secrets” that, if disclosed, could cause “significant harm to the national security.”
The declaration was filed by Jill Sanborn, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division. Her declaration fleshes out some of the assertions Barr and Grenell have used in their filings, arguing that publicly disclosing internal FBI files — including “interview reports, telephone and bank records, source reporting documents and foreign government information” — would reveal intelligence sources and methods of collection and would hamper the willingness of foreign governments to assist the FBI on sensitive cases.
The federal government’s official stance is based on the 2004 report on findings from the 9/11 Commission, which stated it “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”
“This shows there is a complete government cover-up of the Saudi involvement,” said Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the 9/11 families whose father was killed in the attacks. “It demonstrates there was a hierarchy of command that’s coming from the Saudi Embassy to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs [in Los Angeles] to the hijackers.”
Eagleson acknowledged he was flabbergasted by the bureau’s slip-up in identifying the Saudi Embassy official in a public filing. Although Justice Department lawyers had last September notified lawyers for the 9/11 families of the official’s identity, they had done so under a protective order that forbade the family members from publicly disclosing it.
The FBI itself has named the Saudi official. “This is a giant screwup,” Eagleson said.
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