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Another Blow to Accountability for 9/11

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May 29, 2009
PRNewsWire

Statement On Behalf of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism
In Response to the Solicitor General’s Refusal to Support The 9/11 Families’
Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court

(In Re: Thomas E. Burnett, Sr., et al. v. Al Baraka Investment & Development
Corp., et al., Case No. 03-CV-9849 (RCC) In Re: Terrorist Attacks on September
11, 2001, MDL 1570)

WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement
of 9/11 Family Members: Mike Low, Father of Sara Elizabeth Low, AA Flight 11;
Bill Doyle, Father of Joseph M. Doyle, WTC North Tower; Tom & Beverly Burnett,
Sr., Parents of Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., UA Flight 93; and Terry Strada, Wife
of Thomas Strada, WTC North Tower on Behalf of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt
Terrorism in Response to the Solicitor General’s Refusal to Support The 9/11
Families’ Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court:

Today the Obama Administration filed in the Supreme Court a document that expressed
the Administration’s decision to stand with a group of Saudi princes and against
the right of American citizens — 9/11 family members — to have our day in
court. Let there be no doubt: The filing was political in nature and stands
as a betrayal of everyone who lost a loved one or was injured on September 11,
2001.

We are deeply dismayed by this decision, filed by the solicitor general of
the United States in response to the Supreme Court’s February 23, 2009 invitation
for the government to express its views in the 9/11 families’ request to appeal
a portion of the case to the Court. The Administration’s filing mocks our system
of justice and strikes a blow against the public’s right to know the facts about
who financed and supported the murder of 3,000 innocent people. It undermines
our fight against terrorism and suggests a green light to terrorist sympathizers
the world over that they can send money to al Qaeda without having to worry
that they will be held accountable in the U.S. Courts for the atrocities that
result.

The Administration apparently gave less weight to the principles of justice,
transparency, accountability and security, which our case embodies, and more
weight to political concerns and pleadings of a foreign government on the behalf
of a handful of members of its monarchy and others who stand accused of financing
the attacks that murdered our loved ones. Sadly, although the Administration’s
obviously politically based filing is merely informational and in no way binding
on the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court were to follow it, these people will
avoid being held accountable not because they are innocent, but because they
are royalty.

The Administration’s filing is all the more troubling in that it expressly
acknowledges that the courts below applied incorrect legal standards in dismissing
the Saudi defendants, but nonetheless argues that the case — one that seeks
to account for the terrorist attacks against America and the murder of our family
members — does not warrant the Supreme Court’s time. Contrary to the view expressed
by the Obama Administration in the solicitor general’s filing, the victims of
the September 11th attack deserve to have their claims decided under accurate
legal standards.

For all of these reasons, we urge the Supreme Court to reject the solicitor
general’s politically-premised filing, along with its wrongheaded priorities,
accept our petition, and grant us our fundamentally American right to have our
day in Court.

PRNewsWeb SOURCE 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism


RELATED ARTICLES

Justice Dept. Backs Saudi Royal Family on 9/11 Lawsuit

By Eric Lichtblau
May 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is supporting efforts by the Saudi
royal family to defeat a long-running lawsuit seeking to hold it liable for
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Justice Department, in a brief filed Friday before the Supreme Court, said
it did not believe the Saudis could be sued in American court over accusations
brought by families of the Sept. 11 victims that the royal family had helped
finance Al Qaeda. The department said it saw no need for the court to review
lower court rulings that found in the Saudis’ favor in throwing out the
lawsuit.

The government’s position comes less than a week before President Obama
is scheduled to meet in Saudi Arabia with King Abdullah as part of a trip to
the Middle East and Europe intended to reach out to the Muslim world.

Lawyers for the Saudi family said that they were heartened by the department’s
brief and that it served to strengthen their hand before the court, which has
not decided whether to hear the case.

But family members of several Sept. 11 victims said they were deeply disappointed
and questioned whether the decision was made to appease an important ally in
the Middle East. The Saudis have aggressively lobbied both the Bush and Obama
administrations to have the lawsuit dismissed, government officials say.

“I find this reprehensible,” said Kristen Breitweiser, a leader
of the Sept. 11 families, whose husband was killed in the attacks on the World
Trade Center. “One would have hoped that the Obama administration would
have taken a different stance than the Bush administration, and you wonder what
message this sends to victims of terrorism around the world.”

Bill Doyle, another leader of the Sept. 11 families whose son was killed in
the attacks, said, “All we want is our day in court.”

The lawsuit, brought by a number of insurance companies for the victims and
their families, accuses members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia of providing
financial backing to Al Qaeda — either directly to Osama bin Laden and
other terrorist leaders, or indirectly through donations to charitable organizations
that they knew were in turn diverting money to Al Qaeda.

Continued: NYTimes
(and on Page A9 of 5/30/09 print version)


On May 29, 2008 The Philadelphia Inquirer published
“Special
Report: Sept. 11 lawsuit: Suing the Saudis”
an extremely thorough and
very interesting summary (with links) of the timeline and events relating to
this lawsuit. Well worth a thorough read.

The lawsuit
An epic lawsuit filed by Philadelphia firm Cozen O’Connor looks to place direct
blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a
host of individuals, banks and groups so that it can recover billions of dollars
in damages. … The liability case Cozen O’Connor has brought against the Saudi government and other defendants on behalf of U.S. and global insurance companies is the biggest and most complex the firm has ever filed. This time line draws on events that arise from the 9/11 attacks. View the timeline

And a new article today, about the Solicitor General’s filing, (in the Business section) …

High court is urged to block 9/11 suit against Saudis

May 30, 2009
By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia Inquirer

In a setback for insurers and individual victims of the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan urged the Supreme Court yesterday to reject allegations that Saudi Arabia was responsible because it indirectly financed al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Kagan, in a 22-page amicus brief filed yesterday with the Supreme Court, said U.S. law generally barred lawsuits against foreign governments for supporting terrorism unless they met narrowly tailored exceptions.

Kagan said none of those exceptions applied, and she advised the court not to hear the case.

The brief was in response to allegations contained in a lawsuit filed by Center City’s Cozen O’Connor law firm on behalf of dozens of insurance companies that lost billions at ground zero. Hundreds of victims’ families and survivors also have joined in the litigation alleging Saudi responsibility.

Continued: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20090530_High_court_is_urged_to_block_9_11_suit_against_Saudis.html


9/11 Families Angered As U.S. Backs Saudis
Victims’ Relatives Say Justice Dept. Bid To Shield Royal Family From Lawsuit Undermines Fight Against Terror

May 31, 2009
CBS News

(CBS/AP) Relatives of Sept. 11 victims say they’re angry that the Justice Department is supporting the Saudi royal family’s bid to be removed from a 9/11 lawsuit.

The families of some victims have accused the royal family of financially backing terror groups that carried out the 2001 attack.

Their complaint alleges that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi High Commission for Relief to Bosnia and Herzegovina (SHC), and four Saudi Princes (acting in both official and personal capacities) made donations to charitable organizations with the knowledge that those organizations were diverting funds to al Qaeda, and that a fifth Saudi prince knowingly provided banking and financial services to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

… The brief also disputes the litigants claims that their lawsuit falls within acceptable parameters of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which grants immunity to foreign officials performing their duties but also allows exceptions for certain noncommercial claims involving injuries “occurring in the United States and caused by the tortious act or omission of [the] foreign state.”

Last August the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the FSIA exceptions to immunity did not apply, and held it lacked jurisdiction over the Saudi princes’ personal acts.

The lawsuit, Federal Insurance Co. v. Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia, was initiated in 2003 by a consortium of insurance companies seeking to recover more than $300 billion for losses incurred by the 9/11 attacks.

The Saudi princes cited in the claims were:

* Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, president of SHC, who was warned in 2000 of his organization’s ties to al Qaeda;
* Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the designated successor to King Abdullah, who received warnings as early as 1994 that some Muslim charitable groups were fronts for al Qaeda;
* Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who as Saudi Minister of the Interior monitors and controls the charities operating in Saudi Arabia;
* Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who was the director of the Kingdom’s Department of General Intelligence (“DGI”) until August 2001; and
* Prince Mohamed al Faisal al Saud, who unlike the other princes named is not a government official but a bank manager alleged to have knowingly provided material sponsorship to international terrorism.

Related Stories at CBSNews.com:
* What Sort Of Friend Is Saudi Arabia?
* A Terror Breeding Ground?

Continued: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/05/31/national/main5051884.shtml