FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume attempted to refute allegations made by Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), in his recently published book, Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America's War on Terror (Random House, September 2004). The allegations Hume attempted to refute are: (1) that the Saudi government financially supported two September 11 hijackers while they lived in San Diego in the months before the attacks; and (2) that the Bush administration thwarted an investigation into this alleged Saudi connection. On the September 7 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume claimed: "The 9-11 Commission ... found no evidence to support Graham's allegations."
In fact, the reason the 9-11 Commission "found no evidence" for the allegation was that, according to the Associated Press, the White House purportedly forbade the commission from interviewing a key informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who was the San Diego landlord for the two hijackers. While he noted that "[i]n the book, Graham says the White House blocked congressional staff from interviewing people related to the case," Hume failed to note that, according to the AP, the White House had also blocked the 9-11 Commission from doing the same thing.
Graham was co-chairman of the joint congressional inquiry that investigated the September 11 attacks prior to the work of the 9-11 Commission. The AP story also noted that Graham "said an F.B.I. official wrote them [Graham and his co-chairman, Representative Porter Goss (R-FL)] in November 2002 and said 'the administration would not sanction a staff interview with the source.' ... Mr. Graham called the letter 'a smoking gun'."
Despite its inability to interview Shaikh, 27 pages of the final report from the joint congressional inquiry purportedly discussed Saudi government support for the hijackers, but the White House censored this section. The Boston Globe wrote of Intelligence Matters that Graham "makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees." Possible Saudi support for the two hijackers and the classified 27-page section of the report was also the subject of an AP article on August 2, 2003, shortly after the congressional inquiry concluded.