A secret congressional report into the 9/11 attacks will clear Saudi Arabia of any responsibility if it will be published, CIA chief John Brennan has said.
Keeping 28 pages of the report secret has sparked speculation that the attack had received official Saudi support.
The documents are also central to a dispute over whether the families of 9/11 victims should be able to sue the Saudi government.
However, Saudi Arabia denies any involvement.
Fifteen out of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi citizens.
America is remembering the victims of the 9-11 attacks in a series of memorials marking the 12th anniversary
Former senator Bob Graham, who headed the Senate intelligence committee that compiled the classified report in 2002, has said that Saudi officials did provide assistance to the 9/11 hijackers.
However, John Brennan said this was not the case.
In an interview with Saudi-owned Arabiya TV, he said: “So these 28 pages I believe are going to come out and I think it’s good that they come out. People shouldn’t take them as evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks.”
John Brennan also described the 28-page section of the 2002 report as merely a “preliminary review”.
“The 9/11 commission looked very thoroughly at these allegations of Saudi involvement… their conclusion was that there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually had supported the 9/11 attacks,” he said.
Last month, a bill to allow Americans to sue Saudi Arabia over the attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people died, was passed by the Senate and now moves to the House of Representatives.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has warned that the move could cause his government to withdraw US investments.
Bob Graham has said that the White House would decide whether to release the classified pages this month.
Donald Trump has denied mocking disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski during a campaign address earlier this week.
The Republican presidential hopeful flailed his arms while referring to an article about the 9/11 attacks by Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a congenital joint condition.
However, Donald Trump insisted he did not know what the reporter looked like.
He tweeted that he simply was “showing a person groveling to take back a statement made long ago”.
“I do not know the reporter for the @nytimes, or what he looks like. I was showing a person groveling to take back a statement made long ago!” the tycoon wrote.
The row erupted after Donald Trump’s speech at a rally in South Carolina on November 24.
Donald Trump used a 2001 article by Serge Kovaleski, who at the time worked for the Washington Post, to back up his own widely disputed claims that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the September 11 attacks in the US.
In his article, Serge Kovaleski’s wrote that “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river” in Jersey City.
However, Serge Kovaleski recently told CNN he did “not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds of people celebrating”.
At the rally, Donald Trump accused Serge Kovaleski of backing down from his own story.
“Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy,” the billionaire said, before launching into an apparent impression of Serge Kovaleski, waving his arms around with his hands at an odd angle.
“Uhh I don’t know what I said. Uhh I don’t remember. He’s going like <<I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said>>.”
Serge Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a condition that affects the movement of joints and is noticeable in his right arm and hand.
He reported on Donald Trump between 1987 and 1993. He has said he is sure the businessman remembers him and his physical condition, the Washington Post reported.
The New York Times has called Donald Trump’s actions “outrageous”.
Steve Rannazzisi has admitted lying over escaping from the twin towers during the 9/11 terror attacks.
The comedian has previously described working at Merrill Lynch’s offices on the 54th floor of the South Tower when the first plane struck the North Tower.
However, Steve Rannazzisi, who stars in FXX show The League, told the New York Times, it was a fabrication.
“This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry,” he said.
Steve Rannazzisi had claimed in several interviews over the years that he had fled to the street just minutes before a second plane hit his building.
He said he had decided that life was too precious to waste opportunities, so left his desk job to pursue a career as an entertainer.
Steve Rannazzisi was confronted by the newspaper ahead of his own one-hour special due to be broadcast this weekend on Comedy Central and admitted that it was all a lie.
In a series of tweets, the comedian apologized saying: “For many years, more than anything, I have wished that with silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man. It only made me more ashamed.
“How could I tell my children to be honest when I hadn’t come clean about this?”
Alongside his TV work, Steve Rannazzisi also has a commercial endorsement with Buffalo Wild Wings, which gave a statement to the NY Times saying it was “re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts”.
Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson, who lost his firefighter father on September 11, 2001, posted and later deleted a tweet which read: “It’s ok @SteveRannazzisi people make mistakes … Can’t wait to meet my dad for lunch later.”
Pete Davidson later tweeted: “We all sometimes lie and exaggerate a story to seem cooler …Unfortunately this is a very touchy topic n very near n dear 2 peoples hearts. Its years later but he apologized n owned up 2 it like a man.”
Comedy Central has not yet commented on Steve Ranazzasisi’s future with the network.
The comedian blamed his fabrication on “an early taste of having a public persona”.
Steve Rannazzisi added: “It is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them – and the people that love me – that I ask for forgiveness.
“It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones. The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated.”
According to a US Senate report, the CIA carried out “brutal” interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks.
The summary of the report, compiled by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the CIA misled Americans about what it was doing.
The information the CIA collected this way failed to secure information that foiled any threats, the report said.
In a statement, the CIA insisted that the interrogations did help save lives.
“The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaeda and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day,” Director John Brennan said in a statement.
However, the CIA said it acknowledged that there were mistakes in the program, especially early on when it was unprepared for the scale of the operation to detain and interrogate prisoners.
Photo AFP/Getty Images
The program – known internally as the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program – took place from 2002 to 2007, during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Suspects were interrogated using methods such as waterboarding, slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold and sleep deprivation.
Introducing the report to the Senate, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein described the CIA’s actions as a stain on US history.
“The release of this 500-page summary cannot remove that stain, but it can and does say to our people and the world that America is big enough to admit when it’s wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes,” Dianne Feinstein said.
“Under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured,” she added.
Earlier, President Barack Obama responded to the report, saying the methods used were inconsistent with US values.
“These techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners,” he said in a statement.
Reacting to the release of the report summary, the Senate Republican leaders insisted that the methods used helped in the capture of important suspects and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“Claims included in this report that assert the contrary are simply wrong,” Senators Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss said in a joint statement.
The Senate committee’s report runs to more than 6,000 pages, drawing on huge quantities of evidence, but it remains classified and only a 480-page summary has been released.
Barack Obama halted the CIA interrogation program when he took office in 2009.
Earlier this year, the president said that in his view the methods used to question al-Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture.
Publication of the report had been delayed amid disagreements in Washington over what should be made public.
None of the images spells out the horror of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers than the grainy pictures of those falling bodies frozen in mid-air as they fell to their deaths, tumbling in all manner of positions, after choosing to escape the suffocating smoke and dust, the flames and the steel-bending heat in the highest floors of the World Trade Centre.
In many ways, the falling bodies from WTC are tragically the forgotten victims of September 11, 2001. Even now, nobody knows for certain who they were or exactly how many they numbered. Perhaps worst of all, surprisingly few even want to know.
9/11 Falling Man, the iconic picture of falling bodies at WTC
From the first days after the 9/11 attacks, the American people and the media showed an overwhelming reluctance to dwell on those who jumped or fell from the Twin Towers.
If this was simply down to qualms at being considered intrusive or voyeuristic when individuals in the most appalling circumstances chose in desperation to die very publicly, it would be understandable.
But there are other, more complicated, reasons. In the aftermath of this attack on America’s sovereign territory — a period of intense patriotism — some considered that to choose to die rather than be killed showed a lack of courage.
And in this country of intense religious fervour, many believe that to be a “jumper” was to choose suicide rather than accept the fate of God — and suicide in whatever circumstances is considered shameful or, indeed, a sin that will send you to Hell.
Almost all of the falling people who jumped were alone, although eyewitnesses talked of a couple who held hands as they fell.
One woman, in a final act of modesty, appeared to be holding down her skirt. Other people tried to make parachutes out of curtains or tablecloths, only to have them wrenched from their grip by the force of their descent.
The fall was said to take about 10 seconds
The fall was said to take about 10 seconds, but it would vary according to the body position and how long it took to reach terminal velocity — around 125 mph (about 200 km/h) in most cases, but if someone fell head down with their body straight, as if in a dive, it could be 200 mph (more than 320 km/h).
When the body hit the pavement was not so much broken as obliterated.
A spokeswoman of the New York chief medical examiner office said this week that they did not consider these people “jumpers”. She said people fell from the 1,350 ft tall (more than 400 meters), 110-floor skyscrapers, for jumping would imply suicide.
“Jumping indicates a choice, and these people did not have that choice,” spokeswoman said.
“That is why the deaths were ruled homicide, because the actions of other people caused them to die. The force of explosion and the fire behind them forced them out of the windows.”
For those people who have discovered that their loved ones may have been among the estimated 200 or more who plunged to their deaths, this uncomfortable official reticence can only compound the suffering they have already endured.
For instance, Jack Gentul cannot possibly imagine his late wife’s torment before she died. Alayne Gentul, mother of two and the 44-year-old vice president of an investment company, was in the South Tower and had gone up to the 97th floor to help evacuate staff after the other tower was hit. In her final moments, she rang her husband to say in labouring breaths that smoke was coming into her room through vents.
“She said <<I’m scared>>. She wasn’t a person who got scared, and I said, <<Honey, it’ll be all right, it’ll be all right, you’ll get down>>.”
Alayne Gentul’s remains were found in the street outside the building across from the tower — sufficiently far from the rubble to suggest she had jumped. Her husband, Jack Gentul, who has since remarried, is not convinced she took that option but is clearly irked that some believe jumping was some sort of cop-out.
“She was a very practical person who would have done whatever she could to survive,” Jack Gentul explained.
“But how can anyone know what one would do in a situation like that, having to choose how you go from this Earth?”
Knowing that his former wife jumped is, indeed, consoling to Jack Gentul in some ways, in that she exercised an element of control over her death.
“Jumping is something you can choose to do,” Gentul says.
“To be out of the smoke and the heat, to be out in the air, it must have felt like flying.”
On the morning of 9/11, investment banker Richard Pecarello watched from his office on the other side of the river as the second plane hit. Pecarello’s fiancée Karen Juday was working as an administrator at bond traders Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower.
Richard Pecarello tried to phone her but there was no answer, and for days and weeks after he looked at photographs on the internet and wondered if she had jumped. Karen Juday was vain about her face and used anti-wrinkle cream, and he was certain she would have jumped rather than face the flames.
Richard Pecarello, 59, made contact with Associated Press photographer Richard Drew, who had captured images of many of the jumpers, and asked to look through his archives. He discoverd a couple of photographs of a woman in cream trousers and blue top which he is convinced were of his fiancée .
“There was one of her standing in a window with flames behind her and one of her falling from the building,” he said.
“It made me feel she didn’t suffer and that she chose death on her terms rather than letting them burn her up.”
Richard Pecarello has no time for suggestions that she took the easy way out.
“The people who died that day weren’t soldiers. They were everyday people — parents and housewives and brothers and sisters and children,” he said.
When Richard Pecarello tried to show the photos to Karen’s staunchly Protestant family back in Indiana, they didn’t want to know. Family go by the official version, that nobody jumped.
Nobody in US liked talking about the jumpers.
An unofficial estimate put the number of jumpers at around 200
An unofficial estimate put the number of jumpers at around 200, but it is impossible to say for certain because their bodies were indistinguishable from others after the collapse of the WTC Twin Towers. The official reports said that nearly all 2,753 victims in the WTC Twin Towers attack officially died from “blunt impact” injuries.
In 2011, more than 1,000 have yet to be identified from remains. They were vaporised because of the high temperatures; after the planes hit, raging fires pushed the temperatures to 1,800 F ( 1,000 C), sufficient to weaken the skyscrapers’ steel frames.
The steel conducted the heat through the building at a terrifying speed and it reached the upper floors long before the flames did.
There were reports of people having to stand on desks because the floor became so hot.
Fire experts say people rarely throw themselves out of burning high-rises until they have exhausted every other option. Indeed, as survivors desperate for fresh, cool air crowded at the windows smashed open by the force of the planes’ impact, it is possible some of the “jumpers” were actually pushed out in the crush.
The only research that comes close to being an official account is buried deep in an appendix of the huge report into why the towers collapsed, conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology(NIST).
NIST analyzed camera footage and still photographs, and counted 104 jumpers, often recording the floor and exact window from which they left.
Almost all people, excepting three, leapt from the first building to be hit — the North Tower. The second plane struck the South Tower 16 minutes later but it collapsed first, giving occupants less time to react.
The first jumper is recorded plunging from the North Tower’s 149th window of the 93rd floor on the north face of the building at 8.51 a.m., just over four minutes after it was hit by the first hijacked Boeing 757 between the 93rd and 99th floors.
Sometimes the fallers were separated by an interval of just a second. At one point nine people fell in six seconds from five adjacent windows; at another, 13 people fell in two minutes. Twenty minutes after the building was struck, two people fell simultaneously from the same window on the 95th floor.
At least four jumpers tried to climb to other windows for safety then lost their grip. One person climbed from the 93rd floor to the 92nd, clinging to the window’s edge before falling just one second after someone else plumetted from the same window — number 215 on the east face of the tower.
The first jumpers came from the crash zone where the plane entered the building — the offices of the insurance brokers Marsh & McLennan.
The last jumper fell just as the North Tower collapsed 102 minutes after the building had been hit. Former AP photographer Richard Drew said he has a picture of this person clinging to some debris while falling.
Kelly Reyher watched from the South Tower’s 78th floor as people started to fall out of “the hole” the aircraft had ripped in the North Tower. To him, they looked “completely confused” rather than consciously deciding to end it all.
“It looked like they were blinded by smoke and couldn’t breathe because their hands were over their faces,” Reyher says.
“They would just walk to the edge where the jagged floor was and just fall out.”
Six floors below Kelly Reyher, James Logozzo watched with stunned colleagues from the Morgan Stanley boardroom. He recalled that it took three or four jumpers to flash past him before he realised they were people. Then a woman fell, lying flat on her back and staring upwards.
“The look on her face was shock. She wasn’t screaming,” he recalled.
“It was slow motion. After she hit the ground, there was nothing left.”
For the people down below, the bodies landed with sickening, almost explosive thuds. Many said it was raining bodies.
One fireman, Danny Suhr, was killed as he made his way to the South Tower after a jumper landed on him, “coming out of the sky like a torpedo” and breaking his neck.
9/11 WTC: 1,000 people were vaporised because of the high temperatures
Firefighter Maureen McArdle-Schulman said she felt like she was intruding on a sacrament as the bodies fell.
“They were choosing to die and I was watching them and shouldn’t have been. So me and another guy turned away and looked at a wall and we could still hear them hit,” she said.
Bill Feehan, the deputy chief of the fire department, screamed at a man filming jumpers with a video camera: “Don’t you have any human decency?”
Fire battalion chief Joseph Pfeifer put out a desperate plea on the North Tower’s public address system. “Please don’t jump. We’re coming up for you,” he said, not realizing that nobody was listening — the system had long since been destroyed.
Images of the falling bodies disturbed and appalled all who saw them. On the first anniversary of the tragedy, an exhibition showing a work called Tumbling Woman, a bronze sculpture by artist Eric Fischl, lasted just a week in New York’s Rockefeller Centre before it was closed following protests and even bomb threats.
One picture has become an iconic image. When a man fell at 9.41 a.m. from near the top of the North Tower, Richard Drew caught a dozen frames of his descent, including one in which he is diving vertically, arms by his sides and left leg bent at the knee. The image, all the more horrific for its desolate stillness, appeared the next day in newspapers around the world.
Dubbed the Falling Man, it prompted the media to hunt for the man’s identity. None of those who jumped from the towers has ever been officially identified and, tellingly, nobody rushed to claim Falling Man as their own.
Dark-skinned, goatee-bearded, wearing an orange T-shirt under a white shirt , he was first thought to be Norberto Hernandez, a pastry chef at the restaurant Windows on the World, on the top floors of the North Tower. His deeply religious family angrily rejected the notion, insisting that for him to have jumped would have amounted to a betrayal.
“He was trying to come home to us and he knew he wasn’t going to make it by jumping out a window,” his daughter Catherine said.
Since then, the hunt for the Falling Man has moved on to another of the restaurant’s staff, Jonathan Briley, a 43-year-old sound engineer. The reaction of his deeply religious family has highlighted the deep moral complexities that suicide — whatever the circumstances — poses in a country where so many believe it is a sin, unforgivable by God.
Some of Jonathan Briley’s family have never believed he jumped, and say they were vindicated after the authorities found his largely intact body.
“I had no idea it would give me the peace years later to know that,” said his sister Gwendolyn.
“If he had fallen from the 110th floor to the ground we wouldn’t have had that.”
When a 9/11 Memorial Museum opens at Ground Zero next year, it will have a small display dedicated to the jumpers, but reflecting the intense feelings of unease the subject has provoked, it will be tucked away in an alcove, on the grounds that the images are considered too private and too distressing.