Monthly Archives: January 2015



By Janine Francolini

We live in a culture virtually enveloped by digital media, 24/7. For adults and children alike, social media has become central to our very identities — both in how we interact with our close friends and family, and in the many ways we present ourselves to, and engage with, our broader worlds. As I prepare to speak on February 5th in New York City at The Meeting House’s symposium, “Just a Click Away!: How Social Media Influences our Children’s Social Development,” I have been acutely aware of my own behavior as someone for whom social media has become essential to both my professional and personal lives.


Just this morning, I was in a 5 a.m. taxi headed to the airport, and realized how cold and rude my behavior may have seemed to my cab driver, who kept talking to me as my eyes stayed glued to my phone checking early morning emails and posts. He was right there in the front seat, and I’m not proud to say that I was too wrapped up in a different conversation to respond gracefully. I think most of us have some version of that kind of digital distraction that doesn’t reflect who we truly aspire to be.


When it comes to our kids, the worries are multiplied. Just the other night, I heard a story from my friend of three boys who were seniors at a local school. They were expelled from school over an unfortunate sexting incident, the latest case of a growing national phenomenon. We are concerned, rightly, about our children’s privacy, online bullying and about a digital trail of youthful indiscretion that can follow our children in ways they may not consider — concerns we never had to worry about when we were their age. It is overwhelming to us all as our policies and educational systems struggle to keep up with the speed of our ever-changing digital world.


The good news? We can find some encouragement and comfort by going back to the pre-digital basics and keeping it simple with common sense from the heart. Because almost everything we need to know about helping our kids navigate and use social media productively and happily we all learned ourselves in kindergarten. Here’s what I mean about some old-fashioned rules we can apply to the new digital road:


1. Walk Before You Run: Go slow when introducing social media to your children. Just as you carefully selected your child’s first library of books, take the time to put together a resource list of tools and sites that are an appropriate fit for them developmentally.


2. Listen First, Talk Next: We can use social media to learn about and listen to dialogues our children are having. This is the most important lesson of the#IWillListen campaign. Having a trusting, open relationship with our children is a key element in building a foundation for navigating through these tricky issues. As parents we have to be present to hear what our children are expressing about their lives, online and off.


3. Play Nice in the Sandbox: It seems like such a simple idea, to play nice with others. But too often we know social media is associated with meanness. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to have social media with soul — using this remarkable digital technology to make meaningful connections, recognize and champion others, acknowledge the feelings we and others may have and draw families and friends closer together even when we are geographically distant. Social media can do that, but only when we act with integrity and presence.


4. Look Both Ways Before Crossing (and hold my hand!): Each time your child enters into a new social media platform, it’s critical to take the time to make sure you and they understand the dynamics and implications. So, just like crossing the street for the first time, parents need to stay close.


5. Take a Nap, and Get Your Rest!: Sometimes we need to take a break from it all. When we disconnect our connections are so much more meaningful. We adults have learned later in life that there’s too much of a good thing when it comes to social media. Taking time to unplug is essential.


6. Color Outside the Lines: As in other areas of life and learning we want to teach our children not to be afraid to be their own person, online and off. Just because their friends are on social media, it doesn’t mean they have to be. Kids need our support in whatever choices are authentic and comfortable for them. I am probably the only mother on the planet who wishes that her adolescent son would get a cell phone and use a little bit of social media.


7. Tell the Truth!: Being aware and honest about your own use of, and feelings about, social media is key to having meaningful conversations and connections with your children. Opening up authentically about your own questions and concerns can lead to productive dialogues with kids of any age. Honesty is the first step towards awareness and awareness can lead to healthy choices and change.


8. Perhaps Most Importantly, Practice What You Preach!: Long before kids have spoken their first words, they are watching and observing us. That’s why it’s critical for parents to model healthy social media use, for both work and personal communications. If you are feeling, or are observing, smartphone and social media addictions in your self or your children, put yourselves on a social media diet and say no. This is one frontier where kids and parents are truly exploring together how to find the right balance. A few unplugged hours outside together as a family can work wonders in many ways!


In the end, social media is an extension of what we already know, say and feel about ourselves. And the basic rules of good behavior still apply. The immediacy, pace, and multiplier effect is new, and that can be both scary and empowering for us all. It’s up to us to decide if we can infuse these tools with the values that make us truly human — at every stage of our lives.






Janine Francolini is the Founder of the Flawless Foundation and serves on the board of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the USC Gould School of Law and is a member of the Dorothea Dix Think Tank, advancing their mission to decriminalize mental illness. She serves on many advisory boards in both the non-profit and corporate sector. Janine earned a Masters’ degree from Columbia University and had a 15-year career in education.




The Meeting House is a non-profit organization providing recreational afterschool and weekend community for children who need help with social and emotional learning. Our recreational model integrates therapeutic support to create fun, friendship and community for kids.





Lance Laytner
Public Good Relations

o: 212-721-5100
m: 917-573-8960





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The truth about admissions

by Seth icn.seths.head

One in five applicants to Harvard and Stanford are completely qualified to attend—perhaps 20% of those that send in their applications have the smarts, guts and work ethic to thrive at these schools and to become respected alumni.

These schools further filter this 20% by admitting only 5% of their applicants, or about one in four of those qualified. And they spend a huge amount of time sorting and ranking and evaluating to get to the final list.

They do this even though there is zero correlation between the students they like the most and any measurable outcomes. The person they let in off the waiting list is just as likely to be a superstar in life as they one they chose first.

Worth saying again: In admissions, just as in casting or most other forced selection processes, once you get past the selection of people who are good enough, there are few selectors who have a track record of super-sorting successfully. False metrics combined with plenty of posturing leading to lots of drama.

It’s all a hoax. A fable we’re eager to believe, both as the pickers and the picked (and the rejected).

What would happen if we spent more time on carefully assembling the pool of ‘good enough’ and then randomly picking the 5%? And of course, putting in the time to make sure that the assortment of people works well together…

[For football fans: Tom Brady and Russell Wilson (late picks who win big games) are as likely outcomes as Peyton Manning (super-selected). Super Bowl quarterbacks, as high-revenue a selection choice as one can make, come as often in late rounds as they do in the first one.]

[For baseball fans: As we saw in Moneyball, the traditional scouting process was essentially random, and replacing it by actually correlated signals changed everything.]

What would happen if rejection letters said, “you were good enough, totally good enough to be part of this class, but we randomly chose 25% of the good enough, and alas, you didn’t get lucky”? Because, in fact, that’s what’s actually happening.

What would happen if casting directors and football scouts didn’t agonize about their final choice, but instead spent all that time and effort widening the pool to get the right group to randomly choose from instead? (And in fact, the most talented casting directors are in the business of casting wide nets and signing up the good ones, not in agonizing over false differences appearing real–perhaps that’s where the word ‘casting’ comes from).

It’s difficult for the picked, for the pickers and for the institutions to admit, but if you don’t have proof that picking actually works, then let’s announce the randomness and spend our time (and self-esteem) on something worthwhile instead.


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Unhinged Woman Climbs Onstage At Iowa Freedom Summit, Starts Rambling Incoherently

By Anomaly


At the “Iowa Freedom Summit,” Sarah Palin delivered one of her strangest speeches yet and even Scott Conroy from RealClearPolitics, described it as the “strangest speech I’ve ever seen Sarah Palin deliver.”


And that’s saying a lot, don’t you think?

Toby Harden, a Conservative columnist, described Palin’s speech as ‘Bizarro.”

He’s not lying.

Palin held of recent media attention by claiming victimhood. The rambling speech could not be put together again by even the best engineers.

La Palin demonized Hollywood while praising Chris Kyle — a man who Hollywood just released a movie about. She attempted to explain why she recently held a sign which read, “Fuc_ You Michael Moore,” with gun sights drawn inside of the o’s in Moore’s name.

She defended her son using the family dog as a step ladder, and oh, by the way, Obama ate a dog when he was a kid.

On Hillary Clinton, she said Republicans have a “deep bench.”

“It is good that we have a deep bench and its primary competition that will surface the candidate who’s up to the task and unify and this person has to because knowing what the media will do throughout all of 2016 to all of us it’s going to take more than a village to beat Hillary,” she rambled.

She talked about how badass Bristol, her daughter, is.

I’m telling you that this woman is hitting dat crack pipe.

It’s just an observation, although, I did work in the addiction field at one time and I’ve seen this sort of rambling, incoherent, pumped up on something more than freedom behavior before.


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10 Tips for Succeeding as an Entrepreneur



If you want to succeed in running your own company but don’t have all the answers, a serial entrepreneur is one of the best people to ask for advice. One such fount of knowledge you might consider is Mitch Berk, CEO of the upscale matchmaking service Selective Search, who has more than 35 years’ experience launching and developing businesses, as well as working on marketing campaigns involving the likes of the Rolling Stones, Kenny Rogers, and Tim McGraw.

Here’s his advice for succeeding as an entrepreneur.

1. Have a clear vision.
When you launch your business, you must be crystal clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. How is what you’re offering the world unique? How does it stack up compared with the competition? What will you do to implement your vision?

2. Believe in yourself.
If you don’t, no one else will. In fact, your conviction must be unflappable in the face of the inevitable testing of your spirit. “Positive energy breeds positive outcomes,” Berk says. “You can never show weakness or a lack of commitment to what you’re trying to do.”

3. Cultivate resiliency.
This may be the most critical trait of any successful entrepreneur, considering that getting beaten up is one thing you can count on more than anything else. “Get used to it,” Berk says. “You [have to] forget about the pains of yesterday and bring all of your positive energy.”

4. Hire smart and committed people.
Hire for character as much as for qualifications. Then, when your company hits bumps in the road, you can rest assured that the very best people are on your side. “Look into their souls to assess whether they’re committed, quality people,” he says.

5. Seek to develop innovation.
Innovation–particularly anything that can be patented or protected–will separate your company from the competition, increase demand for your products or services, and increase your equity when it comes to thinking about your exit strategy. “There’s no place in any business for me-too products or services. There’s no barrier to entry. They get knocked off too easily,” he says.

6. Develop an advisory board.
Smart people surround themselves with wise, trustworthy, and experienced mentors who can lend their advice when it comes to short- and long-term strategy and financial decisions. “You can give this board real authority to have oversight or you can just ask them to serve as advisers, but either way, the kind of information and perspective that you’ll gain from these kinds of smart people will be motivating, stimulating, and very helpful,” he says.

7. Strive to build operating profits and equity value.
While you may be focused on making money and maximizing profits, it’s equally important to properly manage your cash flow. “As an entrepreneur, you’ll make your decisions differently and you’ll operate the company differently if equity value is a parallel objective to profit-taking from the start,” he says.

8. Don’t take any shortcuts.
You’ll never have enough budget to do everything you want, therefore you must prioritize what’s really important and execute it at the highest level possible. “This will prevent the entrepreneur from having to spend more time and more money redoing items that were developed as a Band-Aid approach,” he says.

9. Understand that cash is king.
Your cash flow is what keeps you alive, and the lack of it results in shortcuts, bad decision-making, and taking on too much debt. “All these things can be disastrous in terms of the longevity and livelihood of your business,” he says.

10. Make your good ideas scalable.
Make every decision as if your company will someday be 100 times larger than it is. “There’s a unique value to a scalable business model from day one,” he says. “At some point, that scalability will provide equity…[that] will make you feel gratified for all the long hours of hard work and all the pressure and sacrifices you make to build your business.”

Source: Christina Desmarais / Inc.


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Optimistic time (vs. honest time)


by Seth Godin –

Optimistic time seems like a good idea. “We’ll ship in January.” “The conference will start at noon.” “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

The hope is that the expectation of completion will raise our expectations and increase the chances that something will actually happen.

In fact, though, there are huge costs to optimistic time. When you announce things based on optimism, the rest of the world you’re engaging with builds plans around you and your announcement. And the cost of the person who doesn’t have your software or is sitting around a meeting room for hours waiting is high indeed.

The alternative is honest time. Time without recourse or negotiation. The Metro North train leaves at 5:52. Not 5:55, no matter how much you want it to wait.

The software ships, the conference starts–at precisely when we say it will. So the world plans on it and depends on it and effectiveness grows.

It doesn’t ship because it’s ready. It ships because it’s due.

(Amazingly, this rule makes things ready a lot more often).

It’s a point of view and a contract with yourself. It ships when I said it would.


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Let me get something off my chest about boob physics in video games

From over-stuffed, rigid lumps to jiggle-happy jugs, the games industry treats breasts like mystifying objects

I need to get something off my chest. Well, I need to get my chest off my chest. No, wait, let’s start again.

Video games are a technological art form. Anything you can imagine, you can create. Vast and varied open worlds? Done. Terrifying, unpredictable monsters governed by the most advanced AI we’ve ever seen? Easy. A blue hedgehog with a fetish for golden rings? Sure, why not. But apparently for Capcom, which has just released a graphically overhauled reboot of its survival horror classic Resident Evil, the most creative thing that can be done with these limitless powers is to give the game’s kickass zombie hunter hero Jill Valentine a pair of boobs with a mind of their own.

Unfortunately for Jill, who probably just wants to get on with the whole zombie apocalypse situation, her sweater puppies (I’m sorry, this bosom slang is only going to get worse) are completely non-compliant. Jiggling around like they’ve been possessed by some kind of demonic spirit, Jill’s rather excitable funbags have become a rippling distraction to anyone attempting to play the game. Exactly why the developers decided that the one thing the original Resi was missing was a couple of rowdy bazongas challenging the laws of physics, we may never know.

But this is really just one entry in a long and fairly depressing encyclopaedia of Things Game Developers Don’t Know About Anatomy. Turn to page 834, if you will, to begin the section titled “Boob Boobs”, subtitled “how incredibly wrong people can possibly be about the humble mammary gland”.

You’ll find a range of breast-related mishaps in video games, from over-stuffed, rigid lumps that protrude from the chest like a fist through a wall, to the comically large hooters favoured by fighting games and RPGs, often set in a parallel universe where breasts have the power to wobble violently, completely of their own accord, like a couple of drunken jellyfish in a mosh pit.

Consider Ivy in Soul Calibur, who’s actually more boob than person. Does she have a defining characteristic other than “that proper lumpy lass”? If she were in a crowded room, and you had to point her out to your friend, would you say “she’s that one over there with the white hair” or would you say “see those knockers over there? Yeah, she’s the woman attached to them, about 20 metres back”?

I’ve been in possession of my very own pair of jumper turnips for a while now, and I’m pretty clued up on how these things work. For starters, they definitely don’t freely bounce around like two bald men wrestling under a blanket. Nor do they completely ignore the movements of the rest of the body. Jill’s problem is that her lady lumps act like a completely separate and possibly even sentient part of her torso, wiggling along to some sick beat that none of us can hear.

That’s precisely the problem with video game baps: they’re never conceived as a part of the human they’re attached to. In fact, it’s entirely plausible that the only reason some of these women – consider Ivy, for example – are in these games at all is to be the bearer of fleshboulders. It would, after all, be rather disconcerting to have disembodied breasts floating around – and probably not all that titillating, either.

You’ve seen that new screenshot of gorgeous, realistic Nathan Drake from Uncharted 4, right? The one so detailed you can count the individual pores on his nose, or whether or not he cleans his ears out regularly? How exactly have we advanced so far in facial modelling, but we still treat tits like a complete mystery?

I understand that boobs are sexy, and often hilarious. That’s cool. That’s biology. But their depiction in games doesn’t always have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. And designers definitely don’t have to show complete disdain for their female audience by treating digital women like the Page 3 models that the Sun has just scrapped.

Games have come so far in the past few years, giving us fully realised worlds stuffed to the brim with trees that look just like trees, water that ripples and flows just like water, and yet my Dragon Age: Inquisition character still looks like someone stapled on a couple of half-deflated basketballs about five inches lower than where boobs actually are.

If you’re going to fetishise every single character in possession of a pair of boobs, you could at least make them look like actual boobs, rather than the current seemingly mandatory options: immovable unripe melons and jiggle-happy jugs. Perhaps we could even take into consideration that not everyone has the kind of rack that could support a full set of tableware, or the sort of cleavage that could crush a man’s skull, like that scene with Joe Pesci and the vice in Casino.

Alternatively, maybe we could strive for complete equality and introduce some ridiculous dong physics in to video games. Helicopter wangs, anyone?


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Leon Panetta, Former CIA Director, Takes An Oracle Board Seat

Leon Panetta, former CIA director, takes an Oracle board seat

Leon Panetta, the former secretary of defense and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will become an Oracle director, the company announced Monday.

Silicon Valley has a practice of late of picking up talent from Washington. has Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, on its board.

Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, joined the board of Dropbox.

David Plouffe, the former Obama campaign manager and White House adviser, is now Uber’s senior vice president of policy and strategy.

As a former congressman from the Monterey Bay region, Panetta has deep ties to the region, as Julia Prodis Sulek wrote in the Mercury News.

He and his wife, Sylvia, live on the family ranch in Carmel Valley. Panetta retired as defense secretary in 2013 and is now the chair of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy at Cal State Monterey Bay.


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John Kerry declares ‘profound emotion’ for France in Paris address Visit by US secretary of state was organised after White House admitted mistake in not already dispatching a senior figure

US secretary of state, John Kerry, offers America’s condolences to France after the Islamist terrorist attacks in which 17 people were murdered last week

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, arrived in Paris on Friday to declare the “profound emotion” of his country for France.

He said the events of last week had been a living nightmare, beginning with the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“I wanted to tell you personally of the horror, the revulsion all Americans felt at that cowardly and despicable act against innocent victims and fundamental values.”

Kerry was speaking at Paris city hall, as part of a visit aimed at making up for the absence of senior US officials at Sunday’s mass rally in defiance of the terrorist attacks.
At an early-morning meeting at the foreign ministry with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, Kerry explained he had been unable to come on Sunday because of a previously arranged trip to India. “It’s good to be with you,” Kerry told Fabius. “We have a lot to talk about.”

Switching between French and English in his city hall address, Kerry said: “What the extremists, the terrorists don’t understand, will never understand, is that bravery and decency will never bow down to intimidation and terror.”

He spoke of the “ordinary men and women who became suddenly heroes”, paying tribute to Lassana Bathily, the young Muslim man from Mali who hid Jewish shoppers in a freezer at the kosher supermarket where gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed four people: “He didn’t think of himself and his security but helped a dozen people to hide in a freezer … he alerted the police and he saved lives”.

Kerry continued: “Asked why he had done this he (Bathily) said: ‘Because we are brothers. It’s not a question of Jews, Christians, Muslims … we are all in the same boat.’”

Kerry concluded: “Over and above the passionate and complex debates about the reasons for the tragedy, above politics, religion, satire … is another common hope, the hope of creating a world based on love and not on hate. What the terrorists fear most is tolerance, liberty, truth … but we simply will not descend into despair.”

Bathily said he was honoured to be invited to the event. Asked if he had a message for Kerry, Bathily, who is to be given French nationality after a campaign by supporters, said: “Welcome to France”.

Earlier, the US secretary of state and François Hollande, the French president, had embraced in front of the Élysée Palace. Hollande said the French people “were victim of an exceptional terrorist attack”, likening last week’s events to the September 11 attacks.

“We must therefore together find the necessary response. And that is the [reason] for [our] meeting today beyond friendship,” said Hollande.

Kerry had said the hastily arranged trip was to “share a big hug for Paris” in the wake of the terror attacks, but he landed in the French capital on Thursday night as the violence spread north to Belgium. A visit that was intended to be commemorative and symbolic appeared likely to become urgent and operational as European and US officials seek to contain the spread of jihadist attacks in the west.

Belgian prosecutors said on Friday that a major Islamist plot to kill police officers in the street had been foiled at the eleventh hour, after counter-terror raids led to the arrest of 15 suspected jihadis in Belgium and France. Meanwhile, French police on Friday arrested a dozen people suspected of helping the Islamist militant gunmen carry out last week’s Paris killings, the city prosecutor’s office said. Separately, German police said they had arrested two people following a raid on 11 properties linked to radical Salafists.

Kerry’s visit was organised after the White House admitted it had made a mistake in not dispatching a senior figure to Paris where 40 other world leaders took to the streets in solidarity with a million protesters after the attacks.

The burials of three more members of the Charlie Hebdo team were taking place on Friday, with bagpipes playing Amazing Grace ringing out at the funeral of Stephane Charbonnier, alias Charb, the editor-in-chief.

Since the attacks, copies of the magazine have flown off the shelves with a print run of five million compared to a normal circulation of 60,000. On Friday morning Kerry visited the scene outside the Charlie Hebdo offices where a Muslim policeman was gunned down, placing a bowl of flowers on the spot, which has also become a makeshift shrine.

After Kerry’s address at city hall, American singer James Taylor, who had travelled with Kerry, took up his guitar and gave a rendition of You’ve Got a Friend adding in “Ton ami est la”.


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You are what you share


by Seth Godin –

I have a friend who can always be counted on to have a great book recommendation handy. Another who can not only tell you the best available movie currently in theatres, but confidently stand behind his recommendations.

And some people are eager to share a link to an article or idea that’s worth reading.

Most people, though, hesitate. “What if the other person doesn’t like it…”

The fear of being judged is palpable, and the digital trail we leave behind makes it feel more real and more permanent. We live in an ever-changing culture, and that culture is changed precisely by the ideas we engage with and the ones we choose to share.

Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better.

The culture we will live in next month is a direct result of what people like us share today. The things we share and don’t share determine what happens next.

As we move away from the top-down regime of promoted movies, well-shelved books and all sorts of hype, the recommendation from person to person is now the most powerful way we have to change things.

It takes guts to say, “I read this and you should too.” The guts to care enough about our culture (and your friends) to move it forward and to stand for something.

We’ll judge you most on whether you care enough to change things.


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The Saudi Role in Sept. 11 and the Hidden 9/11 Report Pages

The Twin Towers rise above the cross on the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, formerly at Ground Zero. JAMES MARSHALL / CORBIS

Since the early days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when news emerged that most of the airline hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, dark allegations have lingered about official Saudi ties to the terrorists. Fueling the suspicions: 28 still-classified pages in a congressional inquiry on 9/11 that raise questions about Saudi financial support to the hijackers in the United States prior to the attacks.

Both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have refused to declassify the pages on grounds of national security. But critics, including members of Congress who have read the pages in the tightly guarded, underground room in the Capitol where they are held, say national security has nothing to do with it. U.S. officials, they charge, are trying to hide the double game that Saudi Arabia has long played with Washington, as both a close ally and petri dish for the world’s most toxic brand of Islamic extremism.

One of the most prominent critics is former Florida Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat who co-chaired the joint investigation of the House and Senate intelligence committees into the Sept. 11 attacks. On Wednesday, in a press conference with two current members of Congress and representatives of families who lost loved ones in the attacks, he will once again urge the Obama administration to declassify the pages—a move the White House has previously rebuffed.

“There are a lot of rocks out there that have been purposefully tamped down, that if were they turned over, would give us a more expansive view of the Saudi role” in assisting the 9/11 hijackers, Graham said in an interview. He maintains that nothing in them qualifies as a legitimate national security secret.

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican who has also read the pages, agrees. “There is no reason the 28 pages have not been made public,” Jones told Newsweek. “It’s not a national security issue.”  Parts of it, however, Jones said,  will be “somewhat embarrassing for the Bush administration,” because of “certain relationships with the Saudis.”

In July, the two co-chairman of a separate inquiry, commonly known as the 9/11 Commission, likewise urged the White House to declassify the 28 pages.

“I’m embarrassed that they’re not declassified,“ former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind) said at a press conference with his co-chair Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey. “I assumed all along that our records would be public—all of them, everything. And when I learned that a number of documents were classified or were even redacted, I was surprised and disappointed. I am embarrassed to be associated with a work product that is secret.”

Referring to widely reported connections between Saudis and two future hijackers in Southern California, Kean added, “We did research on that particular episode in San Diego with Saudi Arabia and believe if you read the 9/11 report you’ll find you want to find about that particular section. There is no reason to classify it anymore.”

Their live-streamed press conference at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. received considerable attention. But Hamilton toldNewsweek that he did not favor declassification of the 28 pages from the congressional investigation, just his own 9/11 Commission report. “I do not favor the declassification” of the the congressional probe’s pages, he said in a telephone interview. He added that he had “never read” that section of the other probe and “I don’t know what’s in it….No one ever came to me and said you ought to read these pages.” (He later amended that to say, “I can’t say I’ve never read them; I have no recollection of having read them.”) He evinced no interest in reading them now. “I haven’t asked. I don’t think I would,” he said. “It depends on the terms of classification.”

Kean could not be reached for clarification of his own remarks. A confidante of both men, who asked for anonymity, said that confusion over their comments arose from “the somewhat confusing” manner the question was raised about the 28 pages in the press conference.

According to Graham, a former chairman of  the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Saudi officials “knew that people who had a mission for Osama bin Laden were in, or would soon be placed in, the United States. Whether they knew what their assignments were takes the inference too far.”

The 2002 joint congressional committee probe he co-chaired reported only that, “contacts in the United States helped hijackers find housing, open bank accounts, obtain drivers licenses, locate flight schools, and facilitate transactions.”

But in an interview with Newsweek, Graham said “the contacts” were Saudis with close connections to their government. “I think that in a very tightly controlled institution like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, activities that would be potentially negative to its relationship with its closest ally, the United States, would not have been made at any but the highest levels,” he said.

The Florida Democrat charged that there has been “an organized effort to suppress information” about Saudi support for terrorism, which “started long before 9/11 and continued to the period immediately after 9/11” and continues today.

“I don’t think that anyone in any agency, whether it was the CIA or FBI or others, made the decision to do this,” Graham added, referring to the decision to classify the pages. “I think it was a decision made at the White House and the executive agencies that were responsible to the White House were told to keep this under rocks.”

The Obama administration has also kept the 28 pages under lock and key. President Obama ignored an April 14 letter from Jones and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Ma), requesting that the documents be declassified. Two months later, they received a response from the director of national intelligence’s legislative liaison promising “a coordinated response on behalf of the President,” which never came. A White House spokesperson told Newsweek on Monday it would have no further comment.

Likewise, Philip D. Zelikow, who was executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and has read the pages, thinks they should remains secret. Now a professor of history at the University of Virginia, Zelikow compared the 28 pages to grand jury testimony and raw police interviews—full of unproven facts, rumors and innuendo. If the government did decide to make them public, he said, “hundreds, if not thousands” of additional pages of interviews would also likely need to be declassified.

In any event, he maintains, the Saudi connections were “a red herring.” The roles of three Yemenis in the U.S. who supported the future hijackers, he said, is the real untold story of the attacks.

“The more interesting story is where they”—the hijackers—“decided to settle here, and why,” said Zelikow, whom Obama appointed to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board in 2011.

On their part, the Saudis have also publicly called for the pages to be declassified. “Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., has said. “We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”

With only 21 co-sponsors, the congressional resolution Jones and Lynch plan to introduce is not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, Washington and the Saudi royals still maintain their decades-long, cozy relationship. This week Prince Khaled bin Bandar, chief of Saudi intelligence, arrived in Washington for “discussions on joint efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” according to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

Which is all the more reason why Graham persists in his efforts, however unlikely they may be to come to fruition.

“Saudi Arabia,” he said, “has not stopped its interest in spreading extreme Wahhabism.”

And there’s a direct line, he maintained, running from the fostering of that ideology to the creation of the Islamic State.

“ISIS…is a product of Saudi ideals, Saudi money and Saudi organizational support, although now they are making a pretense of being very anti-ISIS,” Graham added. “That’s like the parent turning on the wayward or out-of-control child.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the aforementioned congressional resolution had no co-sponsors. The article has been amended to reflect that the resolution has 21 co-sponsors. 


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