WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Monday that it would work toward providing families of 9/11 victims with more information about the run-up to the attacks as part of a federal lawsuit that aims to hold the Saudi government accountable.
The disclosure in a two-page letter filed in federal court in Manhattan follows longstanding criticism from relatives of those killed that the U.S. government was withholding crucial details from them in the name of national security.
Nearly 1,800 families, victims and first responders objected in a letter last week to President Joe Biden’s attendance at memorial events as long as key documents remained classified. Monday’s move failed to placate at least some victims’ survivors, who said the FBI and Justice Department have already had years to review the documents.
In its letter Monday, the department said that the FBI had recently concluded an investigation that examined certain 9/11 hackers and potential conspirators, and that it would now work to see if information it had previously determined could not be disclosed may instead be shared.
“The FBI will disclose such information on a rolling basis as expeditiously as possible,” the Justice Department said.
Biden on Monday praised the Justice Department’s action, saying his administration was “committed to ensuring the maximum degree of transparency under the law.”
“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.
In a statement, Brett Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, was killed inside the World Trade Center, said that while he appreciated Biden’s acknowledgement of the families, “we have heard many empty promises before.”
He added: “We hope the Biden administration comes forward now to provide the information the 9/11 community has waited to receive for 20 years, so we can stand together with the president at Ground Zero on 9/11.”
Story by Eric Tucker, Associated Press