President Biden on Friday signed an executive order directing the Justice Department and other agencies to review and release certain documents related to the FBI's investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Biden touted the move as the fulfillment of a campaign promise, and it is likely to provide some solace to families of victims of the attacks who have for years pushed the government to declassify and make public more information around the events of 9/11.
Biden's order directs the Justice Department and other federal agencies to begin a review of documents and requires the attorney general to release declassified information over the next six months.
"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. For them, it was not only a national and international tragedy," Biden said in a statement. "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.
"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," Biden added. "I welcome their voices and insight as we chart a way forward."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the panel would oversee the review "to ensure that all agencies adhere to the president’s guidance to apply the maximum degree of transparency allowed by law when conducting the review.”
The issue of the classified documents has been an ongoing cause for many families of victims of the attacks. A group of those families issued a statement last month urging Biden not to attend any memorial events this Sept. 11 unless the administration released documents surrounding a potential link between Saudi Arabia and the attacks.
The group 9/11 Families United issued a statement Friday praising Biden's executive order.
"We are thrilled to see the President forcing the release of more evidence about Saudi connections to the 9/11 Attacks," Terry Strada, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center, said in a statement.
"There is much more work to be done to secure justice for our murdered loved ones and to rectify the immense damage the 20-year shroud of secrecy has caused, but we now are optimistic that President Biden will be helping us achieve those goals," Strada added.