46 Democratic Senators have called on the Bush administration to declassify the 28 pages of the Congressional 9/11 report that has been deleted from the public report.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said, “Keeping this material classified only strengthens the theory that some in the U.S. government are hellbent on covering up for the Saudis.”
The New York Times reports the classified portions of the Congressional 9/11 report indicate that two Saudi citizens who had ties to a pair of the hijacker were likely Saudi intelligence agents who may have reported directly to the Saudi government and received Saudi funding.
The reports notes that one of the Saudis, Omar al-Bayoumi, who claimed he was a student had “access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia.”
The report found he had befriended two of the hijackers in San Diego, helped them find an apartment and paid their first two months of rent. The classified report indicates that Bayoumi started receiving more money from the Saudi government after he met the would-be hijackers.
Al-Bayoumi is now living in Saudi Arabia and is expected to be questioned by U.S. officials. It is unclear why the U.S. has waited until now to question him thoroughly. He was only briefly questioned in Britain after the attacks.
The other Saudi cited in the report is Osama Bassnan who did not know the hijackers but was a close associate of al-Bayoumi.
The classified report states that Bassnan traveled to Houston after the attacks when Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah was visiting President Bush. While Abdullah was meeting with Bush, Bassnan was meeting with a Saudi official in Abdullah’s entourage.
Some 300 Nigerian troops are expected to land in Liberia today in the first wave of a West African peacekeeping force that could top 5,000 by month’s end.
The Washington Post reports Liberians are still pleading for President Bush to send in U.S. troops but no move from Washington has been made.
The deployment of U.S. troops has been delayed in part because President Bush first wanted assurances that any troops who go into Liberia will be protected from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. We’ll have more on Liberia later in the show.
Liberian President Charles Taylor had agreed to relinquish power on August 11 but it is no longer clear when he will go into exile in Nigeria. Taylor wants the war crimes indictment against him to be dropped before he goes into exile.
The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Colin Powell as well as his deputy Richard Armitage plan to step down in January 2005 even if President Bush wins the election. The unnamed sources quoted say family commitments not politics is driving the decision. The Post reports Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice are among the top candidates to replace Powell.
50 people were killed in Russia near the Chechnya border after a truck bomb exploded outside a military hospital. Dozens more were wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. But the Russian news agency Interfax reports Chechen separatists led by Shamil Basayev were behind the attack.
The Episcopalian Church yesterday passed the first of two votes that will allow Gene Robinson to serve as a bishop in the state of New Hampshire.
Robinson would become the church’s first gay bishop. We’ll go to Minneapolis in a few minutes where the heads of Episcopalian church are meeting.
Israel has released the names of about 350 Palestinian prisoners it plans to release later this week. Israelis will be given a two-day period to review the list and can ask that certain Palestinians not be freed. Originally news reports said Israel would release about 600 prisoners but the number has been cut almost in half. All told Israel is detaining about 6,000 Palestinians.
This news from Iraq: the Guardian of London is reporting that over 800 U.S. soldiers have now been injured since the U.S. invaded Iraq in March. The total number of soldiers officially killed or wounded tops 1,000. But the Guardian estimates the total number of troops unofficially injured could be four or more times larger.
Meanwhile the Army has sent a team of medical experts to investigate on outbreak of pneumonia among U.S. troops that has left two dead and over 100 ill.
Saddam Hussein’s two son, Uday and Qusay, were buried on Saturday, 11 days after they were killed by the U.S. troops. The New York Times reported the funeral was attended by about 200 family members and friends. The U.S. required the funeral be limited in size. At the end of the ceremony, mourners began chanting “Our blood, our souls, we’ll sacrifice for Saddam!”as well as “Death to America.”
And this news from Indonesia: U.S. freelance journalist William Nessen has been freed from an Indonesian jail after spending a month imprisoned. The journalist who wrote regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle was sentenced to time served. He was arrested after he spent months traveling with and reporting on the Aceh separatist movement. Nessen was arrested shortly after Indonesia imposed martial law on Aceh.