Biden executive order requires declassification, release of some 9/11 documents

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order requiring the review, declassification and release of documents related to the FBI’s investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

>> Read more trending news

Biden campaigned for president on a promise to provide transparency into the investigation, saying in October 2020 that he would direct his attorney general “to personally examine the merits of all cases where the invocation of privilege is recommended, and to err on the side of disclosure where, as here, the events in question occurred two decades or longer ago.”

The order signed Friday requires Attorney General Merrick Garland to release declassified documents over the next six months.

>> Related: 9/11: Hear, read stories of some of the iconic images of that day

“When I ran for president, I made a commitment to ensuring transparency regarding the declassification of documents on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America,” Biden said in a statement. “As we approach the 20th anniversary of that tragic day, I am honoring that commitment.”

Last month, families of the victims killed in the terrorist attacks and first responders asked the president to skip memorial events and ceremonies unless he declassified government records. Previously, presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump declined to declassify documents related to the investigation, according to The New York Times.

>> Related: 9/11 families ask Biden to stay away from ceremony unless documents are released

Biden vowed Friday that his administration would “continue to engage respectfully with members of this community,” adding that he welcomes “their voices and insight as we chart a way forward.”

“We must never forget the enduring pain of the families and loved ones of the 2,977 innocent people who were killed during the worst terrorist attack on America in our history,” the president said.

>> Related: 9/11/2001: A timeline of 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. 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.”

It was not immediately clear how Biden planned to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks, The Washington Post reported.