WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden announced Friday that he has signed an executive order directing the Justice Department and other agencies to oversee a “declassification review” of documents related to the FBI’s investigations into the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The White House says the executive order requires Attorney General Merrick Garland to release the declassified documents publicly over the next six months.
In a statement, Biden mentioned that when he was running for president, he made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of 9/11 documents.
“As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honoring that commitment,” wrote Biden.
Biden said Americans must never forget the enduring pain of the loved ones of the 2,977 people who were killed during terrorist attacks.
“For them, it was not only a national and international tragedy. It was a personal devastation. For 20 years, children have grown up without parents and parents have suffered without children,” wrote Biden. “Husbands and wives have had to find a way forward without their partners in life. Brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, loved ones and friends have celebrated 20 years of birthdays, family gatherings, and milestones looking at an empty chair at homes and with a hole in their hearts.”
The signing of the executive order comes as family and friends of 9/11 victims demand the ability to read all the secret government files related to the attacks.
E.W. Scripps reporter Joe St. George recently spoke with a man named Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed when the World Trade Center came down. He specifically wants to review FBI files related to Operation Encore, which looked into Saudi Arabia's role in the attack.
Eagleson and other have been telling the president to stay away from lower Manhattan until the files are released. Some were also planning protests if nothing happened.
“My heart continues to be with the 9/11 families who are suffering, and my Administration will continue to engage respectfully with members of this community. I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward,” said Biden.