Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said it could start releasing some of the previously-classified documents pertaining to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center just days after victims’ loved ones and survivors asked President Joe Biden not to attend the 20th anniversary memorial events.
Almost 1,800 victims’ family members and survivors released a statement on Friday that called on the President to skip the upcoming events in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and New York City unless he first released documents that he pledged to share during his campaign, NBC News reported.
The statement was signed by those directly affected by the terrorist attacks.
The group called on President Biden to release documents they believed would show the connection between Saudi Arabian leaders and the planned hijacking of commercial airliners, NBC News reported.
When President Biden was on the campaign trail, he pledged his administration would be more transparent and release the documents that loved ones and survivors had been demanding the U.S. government declassify for years.
But the statement from the group said that since he took office, President Biden’s administration has ignored their requests and letters on the subject, NBC News reported.
“Despite numerous requests by Democratic and Republican members of Congress and hundreds of 9/11 family members imploring previous and now the current administration to bring transparency to the matter, these efforts have been rebuffed and the issue has remained inexplicably ignored,” the statement read.
The group threatened to “publicly stand in objection to any participation by his administration in any memorial ceremony of 9/11” if the President didn’t keep his campaign promises.
“We 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 statement read.
On Monday, DOJ announced that it could begin releasing some of the documents the families and survivors wanted, NBC News reported.
The Biden administration said in a letter in federal court that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had recently closed part of the investigation.
The letter was part of a long-running lawsuit filed by the victims’ families and survivors against the Saudi Arabian government, NBC News reported.
The plaintiffs have alleged that the U.S. government has withheld 25,000 pages of documents from discovery in their case.
The letter said the FBI was reviewing classified documents and evidence to determine which of them could be released, NBC News reported.
“The FBI has decided to review its prior privilege assertions to identify additional information appropriate for disclosure,” the letter read. “The FBI will disclose such information on a rolling basis as expeditiously as possible.”
President Biden expressed support for the move and said the administration was committed to maximum transparency under the law, NBC News reported.
“In this vein, 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,” he said.
Brett Eagleson, whose father died at the World Trade Center on 9/11, said the people who signed the statement asking President Biden not to attend the 20th anniversary memorials were “collectively are at our wits’ end with our own government,” NBC News reported.
“We are frustrated, tired and saddened with the fact that the U.S. government for 20 years has chosen to keep information about the death of our loved ones behind lock and key,” Eagleson said.