At the height of political fiasco, Joe Biden, in response to fierce pressure from Congress and 9/11 victims’ families, has finally proclaimed across the board review and declassification of files from the investigation into the 9/11 attack and any possible Saudi links. It was mentioned in the order that the ‘fair and square’ release of information could threaten national security and the ability to prevent future attacks, a better balance had to be struck between transparency and accountability. It said, “information should not remain classified when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any damage to the national security”. “As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the American people deserve to have a fuller picture of what their government knows about those attacks,” an executive order issued on Friday said. It said the full record would be vouchsafed in tranches over the coming six months “except when the strongest possible reasons counsel otherwise”. Victims’ families have long pleaded with the US to release the findings of Operation Encore, an FBI investigation into possible Saudi complicity, especially contacts between Saudi officials and two hijackers who lived in California in the months before the 9/11 attacks. However, Riyadh has turned down any implication in the hijacking and is fighting a lawsuit brought by the families in federal court in New York. “I’m very excited,” said Terry Strada, whose husband Tom died in the attack on the World Trade Center, and who is co-chair of a families and survivors group, 9/11 Community United. “I’m thrilled that we have an executive order now that will mandate a full declassification review of all of the documents,” she added. Strada further stated: “The onus is now on the intelligence agencies to explain why they’re going to classify a document. The way that they’ve been doing it until now is under cover of darkness. They won’t be able to do that any longer.” The FBI and other agencies will have to release “all other records that previously were withheld as classified, in full or in part, during discovery”, as well as another FBI electronic communication closing Operation Encore. Under the executive order, an FBI electronic communication dated 4 April 2016 would have to be released by 11 September. The families’ lawyers believe that to be a 16-page summary of the Operation Encore findings. The US has already accepted the discovery of the document but never disclosed its contents. On the other hand, within four months, now the government will declassify “all interview reports, analytical documents, documents reporting investigative findings, or other substantive records (including phone records and banking records, if any), and any other document related to Operation Encore.” “The significant events in question occurred two decades ago or longer, and they concern a tragic moment that continues to resonate in American history and the lives of so many Americans,” the executive order states. “It is therefore critical to ensure that the United States government maximizes transparency, relying on classification only when narrowly tailored and necessary.” The official order comes only a day after a complaint by the families to the justice department inspector general, over the FBI’s claim to have lost critical evidence, allegedly including photos and videotape of hijackers with Saudi officials, records of witness interviews and phone records of conversations among the plotters. Brett Eagleson, whose father, Bruce, was killed in the attacks, said the families would be watching to see that the declassification is all-inclusive. “President Biden is asking us to trust that the administration will bring justice to the 9/11 community and we certainly hope this is a genuine step forward,” Eagleson said in a written statement.