The Obama administration is likely on the brink of releasing a secret report from a congressional inquiry into 9/11, and the information contained in its pages could link the Saudi government to the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The classified 28-page chapter has been sequestered to a basement vault in the Capitol building ever since George W. Bush deemed it a potential intelligence threat in 2002, but sources who have read the report say that protecting United States-Saudi Arabia relations was what was really at stake.
Of the 19 Al Qaeda hijackers implicated in the Sept. 11 attacks, 15 were Saudi citizens.
The Saudi government has long denied allegations that it was complicit in funding extremists, and has even encouraged the U.S. government to release the documents so that it can address any specific allegations levied against it.
Former U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer, a member of the congressional inquiry who said he had read the chapter in question three times, described its contents as a "preliminary police report".
"There were clues. There were allegations. There were witness reports. There was evidence about the hijackers, about people they met with — all kinds of different things that the 9/11 Commission was then tasked with reviewing and investigating," Roehmer said, according to the Associated Press.
Ben Rhodes, a White House official, told CNN that Obama had ordered the papers to be reviewed for potential declassification. Though unable to speak openly about the contents of the documents, he alluded to the fact that Saudi involvement might have been on the individual, and not governmental, level.
"There were a number of very wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia who would contribute, sometimes directly, to extremist groups, sometimes to charities that ... ended up being ways to launder money to these groups," he said.