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Thread: Florida Congressman Denied Access To Censored Pages From Congress' 9/11 Report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Florida Congressman Denied Access To Censored Pages From Congress' 9/11 Report

    Florida congressman denied access to censored pages from Congress’ 9/11 report

    By Dan Christensen,

    The U.S. House Intelligence Committee has denied a Florida congressman’s request for access to 28 classified pages from the 2002 report of Congress’ Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, told he made his request at the suggestion of House colleagues who have read them as they consider whether to support a proposed resolution urging President Obama to open those long-censored pages to the public.

    “Why was I denied? I have been instrumental in publicizing the Snowden revelations regarding pervasive domestic spying by the government and this is a petty means for the spying industrial complex to lash back,” Grayson said last week, referring to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

    Redacted on orders from then-President George W. Bush, the report says the 28 pages concern “specific sources of foreign support” for the 9/11 hijackers while they were in the U.S. Specifically, that is “the role of Saudi Arabia in funding 9/11,” according to former Florida Senator Bob Graham, who co-chaired the Joint Inquiry and helped write the 28 pages.

    Graham has long called for declassifying those pages in order to help 9/11 victims and their families find justice, and to better serve national security. In July, 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton also came out in support of declassification.

    “I’m embarrassed that they’re not declassified,” said Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman. “We emphasized transparency. I assumed incorrectly that our records would be public, all of them, everything.”

    House Resolution 428, sponsored by Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-NC, asks President Obama to release the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry’s report, saying they are “necessary for a full public understanding of the events and circumstances” surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

    Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is one of 21 co-sponsors including Florida Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville. Massie has challenged all members of Congress to read the report, which he said poses no threat to national security.

    In 2003, 46 senators – including Joe Biden, Sam Brownback, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry – wrote to President Bush asking him to declassify the pages.

    In a party line vote, the House Intelligence Committee voted 8-4 on Dec. 1 to deny Democrat Grayson access to the 28 pages. The same day, the committee unanimously approved requests to access classified committee documents – not necessarily the 28 pages – by 11 other House members.

    Grayson, an outspoken liberal and a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said his denial was engineered by outgoing Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Rogers is a former FBI agent who did not seek re-election in November.

    “Congressman Rogers made serious misrepresentations to other committee members when he brought this up,” Grayson in a telephone interview. “When the Guardian reported on the fact that there was universal domestic surveillance regarding every single phone call, including this one, I went to the floor of the House and gave a lengthy speech decrying it.”

    “Chairman Rogers told the committee that I had discussed classified information on the floor. He left out the most important part that I was discussing what was reported in the newspaper,” said Grayson. “He clearly misled the committee for an improper purpose: to deny a sitting member of Congress important classified information necessary for me to do my job.”

    Rogers did not respond to a request for comment. An aide in his Lansing, Michigan office referred callers to a spokeswoman for the House Intelligence Committee who could not be reached for comment.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Dem: Intel panel won't let me see 9/11 info

    By Julian Hattem - 12/29/14 03:15 PM EST

    Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are refusing to let outspoken Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) examine a classified document because of his criticism of the National Security Agency, he claims.

    Grayson told the Broward Bulldog, an investigative news website, that he has been denied access to 28 classified pages from a 2002 congressional report about 9/11 that some lawmakers have demanded be released to the public.

    “Why was I denied? I have been instrumental in publicizing the Snowden revelations regarding pervasive domestic spying by the government and this is a petty means for the spying industrial complex to lash back,” Grayson told the news organization.

    The 28 pages redacted from the congressional report contain specific information about foreign backing of the terrorists ahead of their 2001 attacks. The pages are believed to point to the role of Saudi Arabia in funding the terrorists.

    A bipartisan team of lawmakers led by Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) has introduced a resolution calling on President Obama to declassify the pages. The lawmakers say the pages should be made public so that the country can know the full truth surrounding the terror attacks that occurred more than 13 years ago.

    While deciding whether or not to co-sponsor the resolution, Grayson requested permission to review the pages.

    In a Dec. 1 vote largely along party lines, the House Intelligence Committee denied that request. During the same meeting, 11 other lawmakers were granted access to classified committee documents without opposition. It is unclear whether the other legislators requested access to the same documents.

    Grayson has been a strident critic of programs at the NSA and other arms of the intelligence community. Last summer, he gave a heated floor speech discussing NSA programs leaked just days earlier by former contractor Edward Snowden.

    Seemingly at least partly because of that speech, the House Intelligence Committee has cut Grayson out on at least two occasions since then. Last June, the panel reportedly denied his request to learn more about NSA operations. That October, it thwarted his attempt to view classified information about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria.

    Congressional rules prohibit people with security clearances from publicly discussing leaked information that has not been officially declassified, even if it has previously appeared in major news outlets.

    In a conversation with the Bulldog, Grayson said that panel Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) ^— who is stepping down from Congress this year — was behind the latest denial.

    “Chairman Rogers told the committee that I had discussed classified information on the floor,” Grayson said. “He left out the most important part that I was discussing what was reported in the newspaper.”

    “He clearly misled the committee for an improper purpose: to deny a sitting member of Congress important classified information necessary for me to do my job.”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    House panel nixes Grayson's request for Syria intelligence

    10/18/13 1:51 AM EDT

    In a highly unusual move, the House Intelligence Committee voted this week to deny an outspoken Florida lawmaker access to classified information supporting President Barack Obama’s call for a military strike in Syria.

    The committee’s decision Wednesday to deny the sensitive materials to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) was driven in part by a heated House floor speech he gave in June (text/video) in which he displayed and discussed a “top secret” PowerPoint presentation National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked to the Guardian and the Washington Post, a Hill staffer familiar with the situation said.

    Under rules pertaining to classified information, people with security clearances are not permitted to publicly discuss or confirm leaked information that has not been officially declassified.

    The panel members present at the meeting voted unanimously to deny Grayson access to some of the information he was seeking, according to a tally reviewed by POLITICO. Other records were denied to him on a 14-1 vote, with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) the sole dissenter, the tally shows.

    In an interview, Grayson said he didn’t know why his request for access to the intelligence underlying the call for military action against Syria had been refused, beyond what he called a “form letter” telling him of the decision.

    “They said, ‘No,’” Grayson said Thursday. “It’s fundamentally wrong that members of the intelligence committee have information and they’re keeping other members of Congress from having access to it…There’s no legitimate reason to distinguish between what one member of Congress has access to and what another member has access to. We are all equal under the Constitution.”

    In a letter to Grayson dated Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) explained the denial by pointing in general terms to panel rules that say such requests are decided by considering “the sensitivity to the national defense or the confidential conduct of the foreign relations of the United States of the information sought…the likelihood of its being directly or indirectly disclosed [and] the jurisdictional interest of the member making the request.”

    “The Committee has always been forward leaning with providing members of Congress briefings and facilitating meetings with Intelligence Community officials, particularly where classified intelligence information heavily informs a vote or matter pending before the House of Representatives,” Rogers wrote in the letter, which Grayson shared with POLITICO (and is posted here). “However, the Committee also takes seriously its responsibility to protect classified information—particularly sources and methods—in order to ensure such information does not become known by our country’s adversaries.”

    A spokeswoman for the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, confirmed the denial of Grayson’s requests. However, she said a key factor was the mootness of the Syria debate at the moment, given Obama’s decision to proceed with diplomatic efforts to strip Syria of its chemical weapons and his withdrawal of the call for Congressional approval of military action.

    “Mr. Grayson's requests for classified details about Syria are now not relevant to any vote that Congress has pending before it,” Ruupersberger spokeswoman Allison Getty said in a statement. “In addition, much information has now been and will be made public as diplomatic options became available. Should future votes on this issue or others arise, every effort is made to make relevant classified information available for Members to make informed decisions.”

    “The Committee held a thorough discussion on the matter and determined, by majority vote, that it could not approve Congressman Grayson’s request,” Getty added.

    Getty also said “Grayson’s requests were broad and sought highly classified information which would include very sensitive source revealing information.” She noted that when the Syria issue was pending, five classified briefings were held for members of Congress and Grayson attended “some” of those sessions.

    Grayson said it was “bizarre” if the committee denied him access based on his June speech criticizing the NSA’s PRISM program and the agency’s telephone-call-tracking database.

    “I did take slides from the Guardian’s website to use as visual aids. I didn’t use or misuse classified information. Anybody making that charge is being irresponsible,” the congressman said. “It was obviously in the public domain at the time. Millions of people had gone to the Guardian website and seen it.”

    “By the way, there’s such a thing in the Constitution as the speech and debate clause of the Constitution,” Grayson added. The clause gives lawmakers absolute immunity for their statements during official sessions, but does not preclude the House or Senate from cutting off members’ access to information.

    The liberal firebrand from Florida said no member of Congress nor any executive branch official had complained to him about his June floor speech about the NSA or the “visual aids” he used. However, he would not say whether any Congressional staffers had objected to the content of his presentation.

    “I’m not going into that,” he said.

    Grayson said he made the request for Syria-related data because published reports seemed to contradict public statements and briefing papers administration officials distributed about intelligence on the chemical weapons situation in that war-wracked country.

    “I felt I had been sold a pig in a poke,” he said. ”I was asked to vote to go to war…on the basis of a four-page summary prepared by proponents of war that had only information in their favor in the document….What I’ve done, I think conscientiously, is to try to ascertain the facts.”

    A prominent expert on classified information policy, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, said he was troubled by the ambiguity of the committee’s action towards Grayson.

    “If the committee’s position is he violated his oath, then they should refer him to the Ethics Committee. If not, then they should [approve] his request,” the analyst said. “It doesn’t smell right.”

    Highly-publicized disclosures of classified information in recent years and the ability to obtain the original documents via the Internet have created strange and sometimes impractical situations as security specialists tried to keep those with security clearances on the right side of the rules. In 2010 and again this year, the U.S. military blocked troops and other personnel from accessing classified documents published on the internet as a result of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks and Snowden’s disclosures about the NSA. Sometimes officials have blocked or forbidden access even to news outlets reporting on the disclosures, such as the Guardian and the New York Times.

    Aftergood noted, though, that the legal complications go beyond those with security clearances. Strictly speaking, anyone who has a copy of top-secret documents Snowden leaked or has them stored on his or her computer is violating the law by not returning them immediately to the U.S. Government.

    “Everyone, who, like myself, receives the Washington Post at home is in technical violation of the Espionage Act because in Tuesday’s paper, the Post reprinted top-secret slides released by Snowden,” Aftergood said. “The letter of the law has not caught up with the reality that a lot of classified information is in circulation in the public domain.”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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