After years of frustration, proponents of releasing 28 classified pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks were seeing real progress in their push for disclosure of findings that are said to show high-level Saudi Arabian support for the hijackers.
“We seem to be coming to a point of decision as to whether to release it or not and in what form,” said Bob Graham, the former Democratic senator from Florida, who served as a co-chairman of the 2002 inquiry and has made disclosure of the pages a personal cause since leaving Congress.
But last-minute obstacles, often by design, have a way of cropping up in Washington and slowing things down. Mr. Graham hopes he is not seeing an example of that, he said, after suggestions from James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, that Congress will ultimately be left to decide what to do with the pages once intelligence officials finish a review as early as next month.
That approach — first raised in a private meeting last week among Mr. Clapper, Mr. Graham and lawmakers — took Mr. Graham by surprise. It threatens to add a new layer of complexity to a process that those backing the release thought was reaching its long-sought end.
“No one has ever questioned that this is a decision that rests at the White House,” said Mr. Graham, who noted that Congress had long ago moved to release the pages, only to be stopped by President George W. Bush. “The idea of adding another elongated, contentious step to the process is befuddling.”