Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who chaired the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, is calling on President Obama to investigate the new disclosures linking Saudi nationals living in Sarasota, Florida, to the 9/11 hijackers.
"This is the most important thing about 9/11 to surface in the last seven or eight years," Graham told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's very important for the White House to take control of this situation. The key umbrella question is: What was the full extent of Saudi involvement prior to 9/11, and why did the U.S. Administration cover this up?"
In a Sept. 15 interview on "Democracy Now," Graham described the Saudi "support network" for the 9/11 terrorists that the Congressional Inquiry uncovered in San Diego, and said "we've just learned about another pod of this network in Sarasota."
"What we know to date," Graham said, "is that there was a wealthy Saudi family living in a gated community near Sarasota, which had numerous contacts with Atta, the leader of the hijackers, and two others who were doing their pilot training near Sarasota. We also know that this family left the United States under what appear to be very urgent circumstances on August 30, 2001, just before 9/11." Graham stressed that the FBI did not tell the Congressional Inquiry about the Saudi contacts in either San Diego or Sarasota.
Beyond San Diego and Sarasota, Graham asked, what was going on in other communities where the hijackers lived, such as Arlington, Virgina; Phoenix, Arizona; Paterson, New Jersey; and Delray Beach, Florida? "Were there similar facilitators in those communities?"
The Miami Herald, which published the Sarasota revelations last week, also called for a full investigation yesterday, saying in an editorial that "There are simply too many unanswered qustions ... to sweep this matter under the rug." The Herald notes that the FBI has issued a statement saying that they followed up the information and found "no connection" to the 9/11 plot. "That should not be the end of it," says the Herald, insisting that the public deserves answers to questions about the connections between the hijackers and the Saudis who lived in the Sarasota house, including an explanation for the many phone calls and visits. The Herald reports that Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) has called on the House Intelligence Committee to investigate, in addition to Bob Graham's asking the White House to investigate.