Sunday, May 31 2009 - Legal Response to 9/11
Another Blow to Accountability for 9/11
9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism has issued a press release urging "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," in response to the US solicitor general's recommendation that the Supreme Court NOT hear their case against Saudi royalty accused of financing the September 11th attacks. Press release and summary of news articles follows.
May 29, 2009
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
Justice Dept. Backs Saudi Royal Family on 9/11 Lawsuit
By Eric Lichtblau
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.
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
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.
9/11 Families Angered As U.S. Backs Saudis
May 31, 2009
(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;
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