February 17, 2010
Contact: press [at] ccrjustice.org
New York — Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantánamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.
Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.
In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate.
The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act that bars any challenge by a Guantánamo detainee to their treatment, conditions, or any other aspect of their detention, while failing to address the plaintiffs’ arguments about the unconstitutionality of the provision itself. The court also dismissed the deceased’s claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, following a holding by the D.C.…Continue reading
by Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly completed settlements of two of the remaining three lawsuits brought by families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks are likely to include language requiring evidence to be displayed at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, a lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney Mary Schiavo said the public display of evidence collected for trial by lawyers in the case was important to the families.
She called the museum a fitting place for it and said the materials were likely to be put in the museum’s reading room.
She commented outside a court hearing where lawyers announced they had settled 15 of 18 property damage cases stemming from the terrorism attacks for an undisclosed amount, including claims by the Windows on the World restaurant.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said he expects he will insist the amounts be made public later because of the “extreme public interest” in the cases.
Schiavo said families were close to settling cases stemming from the deaths of Sara Low, 28, a Boston-based flight attendant who died when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center, and Barbara Keating, 72, of Palm Springs, Fla., who was also aboard American Flight 11.
The lawyer said the remaining family was unlikely to settle its case on behalf of Mark Bavis, 31, of West Newton, Mass., a scout for the Los Angeles Kings professional hockey team. He was aboard United Flight 175, which also struck the… Continue reading
The Trial of Splitting the Sky as a Trial of the Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld Cabal of War Profiteers
by Anthony J. Hall,
Professor of Globalization Studies, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
December 3rd, 2009
printable version (pdf)
Who and what is on trial ?
When Splitting the Sky broke through police lines in his attempt to conduct a citizen’s arrest of former US President, George W. Bush, the Mohawk Freedom Fighter pierced a thick wall of tyranny. He broke through a tight phalanx of state protection for the perpetrators of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Crimes Against the Peace.
With his courageous act, Splitting the Sky announced the unwillingness of millions of global citizens to tolerate any longer the culture of impunity that places a small, interlinked global plutocracy above the law. By breaking police lines, the Attica Brother and American Indian Movement activist scouted a route of liberation for those of us seeking to get out from under the weight of complicity in International Crime committed in our name. We are all deeply implicated in the state terror permeating the 9/11wars because it is our tax dollars that fund these imperial assaults.
Splitting the Sky’s action in Calgary highlights the abject failure of law enforcement agencies to do their job. It highlights the unwillingness of police and those who direct them to apply the law equitably and independently.
When he broke through police lines last march, Splitting the Sky built on the message of Muntadarar al-Zaidi, the Baghdad journalist who… Continue reading
By Michael McAuliff
November 24, 2009
Some 9/11 widows who want to see a terror trial in New York today questioned why a group strongly linked to Liz Cheney is leading the charge in opposition to the trial.
Her father, after all, is the man many Democrats and liberals think broke the law in pushing for interrogation techniques now deemed torture by the Obama administration, and which were used on Al Qaeda plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
The anti-trial group is led by Debra Burlingame — whose brother piloted one of the doomed planes — and who is a guiding light at 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America.
The 9/11 Families group had as a springboard Keep America Safe, a Liz Cheney vehicle where Burlingame serves on the board.
“Perhaps they’re trying to protect her father’s role in torturing these detainees,” said Lorie Van Auken, who lost her husband on 9/11. “And that’s actually what could keep us from seeing justice, is this torture that was done to these people because that evidence is not really evidence. It won’t be admissible anywhere.”
Auken was speaking on a conference call organized by the liberal Human Rights First.
Later, she declined to back off her statement. “You start to wonder why Liz Cheney would be organizing the 9/11 families,” she said. “It’s just a funny connection.”
Below (see source) is the press conference Burlingame did today with Rep. Pete King and others, posted online by Keep America Safe, in which… Continue reading
by Kristen Breitweiser,
9/11 widow and activist
November 16, 2009
Even after witnessing the horrors of 9/11 that included me helplessly watching the murder of my husband on live television, I still believe that we are a civilized nation of laws. And like the Nuremberg trials that brought the murderers of millions to justice, now more than ever, Americans need to trust our own judicial system to fully and openly prosecute the mass murderers of 9/11 while the rest of the world bears witness.
Because while the terrorists were successful in bringing down the Twin Towers and hijacking airplanes on 9/11, our Constitution should never be hijacked or brought down as a result of anything–let alone the potential adversity faced in prosecuting modern day monsters like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Indeed, in the fight against Islamist extremism, we should never bow to the terrorists by compromising, manipulating, re-writing or flat-out ignoring the core, bedrock principles of our Constitution that speak to the very heart of who we are as a nation–a democracy.
Yet, quite alarmingly, Republicans seem to be exhibiting just this sort of crisis of confidence in our Constitution’s ability to prosecute these horrible men. Republicans argue that men like KSM are war criminals who can only be convicted in military commissions where they won’t receive the protections of our laws. Republicans seem to lack a certain faith in our Constitution’s ability and adaptability in meting out the demands of modern day justice.
So the once-brazen, chest-thumping Republicans who… Continue reading
The Turning Point
by Ted Walter
October 16, 2009
NYC Coalition for Accountability Now
In the fall of 2008, the NYC 9/11 Ballot Initiative realized that both strategy and tone were moving its effort no closer to broadening its support. Facing a wary, apathetic public and a stalled momentum, leadership was replaced, strategy was revamped and its mission rebranded.
Launched in early 2009 as NYC CAN, the new organization proceeded to effectively engage voters in a rational dialogue concerning the unanswered questions surrounding 9/11 and the best interests of our country. Our vehicle for engagement was a public referendum to create a real, independent, evidence-driven investigation into those questions that remain, eight years later, unaddressed.
That revamped strategy — focused and methodical, free of divisive rhetoric, ill-advised conjecture and alienating political judgments — succeeded in garnering the support of 80,000 NYC voters, over one-hundred 9/11 family members, dozens of first responders and survivors and leading 9/11 family advocates including ‘Jersey Girls’ Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza as well as Bill Doyle, Monica Gabrielle and others.
NYC CAN also received backing from the most trusted leaders in the 9/11 truth movement, including David Ray Griffin, Richard Gage, Kevin Ryan, Steven Jones and Niels Harrit; and the endorsement of respected whistleblowers Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley, TIME’s 2002 Person of the Year.
Yesterday afternoon, Justice Edward Lehner of the State Supreme Court rubberstamped Referee Louis Crespo’s recommendation that the decision to establish a local commission to investigate the events of September 11th not be put before the voters on November 3rd.
After showing interest in weighing both sides’ arguments in the hearing, the Judge’s short decision gives no indication of having considered the arguments put forth in the Petitioners’ memorandum of law, nor any acknowledgement of the need for a new investigation, which the City of New York callously dismissed as “irrelevant”.
On a dark day for democracy, the patriotic call for answers by hundreds of 9/11 families, first responders and survivors has been stifled, and the will of the people of New York City once again denied.
Judge Lehner ruled that modifying the petition to make it “legally permissible” would result in it being “inconsistent with the law sought by the signatories of the Petition” despite the fact that all 80,000 signatories agreed by signing the Petition that “If any provision of this law is held to be unconstitutional or invalid for any reason, the remaining provisions shall be in no manner affected thereby but shall remain in full force and effect.”
RELATED NEWS COVERAGE
The deadline for inclusion on the ballot falls just before the election, making it possible to appeal Judge Lehner’s decision. NYC CAN is weighing all options and will make an announcement early next week on this issue, as well as on how it will be moving… Continue reading
Supreme Court Justice Edward Lehner has begun consideration of NYC CAN’s
motion to reject Referee’s Louis Crespo’s recommendation that the
NYC CAN 9/11 petition not be submitted to the voters on November 3. The petition
would ask whether or not there should be an independent New York City investigation
Responding to a motion brought by NYC CAN attorney Dennis McMahon, a hearing
was held Tuesday September 29 at the New York State Supreme Court, and concluded
with the understanding that the Court will likely render a decision on the petition’s
legality by Friday, October 2.
The City’s previously assumed deadline of September 30—spurred
by the printing deadline for military absentee ballots—was brushed away
by Judge Lehner as he suggested the printing of absentee ballots would likely
not be ordered on Wednesday, September 30, since runoff elections were being
held while the Court was in session. Even if the ballots were ordered on Wednesday,
Lehner indicated, this should not prevent the referendum from being put before
the vast majority of the electorate who would be voting in New York City.
Judge Lehner’s postponement of the supposed deadline came after McMahon
had requested that the Judge carefully consider both sides’ arguments,
rather than render a rush decision and fail to adequately contemplate NYC CAN’s
legal arguments, as the Referee had done.
Initially there was a question as to whether oral arguments would go forward
as a clerical mishap resulted in the Judge not being presented with the papers… Continue reading
Monday, September 28th, 2009 — 2:45 pm RawStory.org
UPDATE (at bottom): City’s law department tells RAW STORY that a new 9/11 investigation is ‘not a proper subject to be placed before the voters’ ‘
A lead actor from the popular FX television show “Rescue Me” joined a large group of 9/11 activists and survivors on Sunday in a march from New York City’s Battery Park to city hall.
During an afternoon rally in the park, Daniel Sunjata, who plays the role of Franco Rivera in the firefighter drama featuring actor Dennis Leary, took the stage with an impassioned call for a new investigation.
The march was held to support the NYC CAN coalition, which is currently engaged in a court battle with city hall over the legality of their ballot measure calling for a new 9/11 investigation.
The group has gathered over 80,000 signatures from New Yorkers in support of its ballot initiative, and even won a recent legal skirmish over a challenge to the validity if its petition’s signatures. The city’s challenge to the initiative’s legality continues, however, with a court referee recently advising the judge to find for the city.
An NYC CAN media advisory , which refers to the 9/11 Commission Report as a “disgrace,” notes that the group’s lawyers were to file a motion for reconsideration on Monday, Sept. 28.
“We have received, for our efforts, a slap in the face and a kick in the mouth,” said Sunjata, speaking at the NYC CAN rally on… Continue reading
9/11 Widow Jane Pollicino Speaks About Getting Involved With NYC CAN:
Day Until The Historic
MARCH FOR ANSWERS
September 27, 2009 2pm Battery Park (State Street) to City Hall
List of Speakers:
Bob McIlvaine – 9/11 Family Member
Manny Badillo – 9/11 Family Member
Daniel Sunjata – Star of FOX’s "Rescue Me"
Eileen Coles – 9/11 Survivor and Whistleblower
Major Mike McCormack – 9/11 First Responder
Mark Crispin Miller – Professor of Media Studies at NYU
*Live Feed of March Likely! Check Website Before March!
Breaking News: Court Referee Recommends Ruling in Favor of City;
NYC CAN To File Motion To Reject Referee’s Recommendation
Rather than waiting until the scheduled decision date of Monday, September
28, Referee Louis Crespo issued his "report and recommendations" on
Friday, September 25, and recommended that the Court rule in favor of the City.
After reviewing the referee’s report, we feel he did not give adequate consideration
to the extensive arguments presented in our memorandum of law submitted on Monday,
September 21. The report seemed more a cut and paste from the City’s original
motion papers than a balanced weighing of the arguments. In particular, the
referee’s report failed to analyze the vast majority of NYC CAN’s legal points
as to why the City’s claims were unfounded and its reliance on certain case
law wholly inapplicable.
Officially, Judge Lehner has up to 60 days to either adopt, modify, or reject
the referee’s report and recommendation, and render a decision. However, with… Continue reading
Former Student Filed Lawsuit Claiming Civil Rights Were Violated
A federal appeals court has ruled that former Attorney General John Ashcroft may be held liable for people who were wrongfully detained as material witnesses after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In a harshly worded ruling handed down Friday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the government’s use of material witnesses after Sept. 11 “repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.”
The court found that a man who was detained as a witness in a federal terrorism case can sue Ashcroft for allegedly violating his constitutional rights. Abdullah Al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen and former University of Idaho student, filed the lawsuit in 2005, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was detained as a material witness for two weeks after 9/11.
“Sadly, however, even now, more than 217 years after the ratification of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, some confidently assert that the government has the power to arrest and detain or restrict American citizens for months on end, in sometimes primitive conditions, not because there is evidence that they have committed a crime, but merely because the government wishes to investigate them for possible wrongdoing, or to prevent them from having contact with others in the outside world,” Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., for the majority. “We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution and a painful… Continue reading
Federal judge rules detainee’s lawyers can question 9/11 mastermind Mohammed
_ in writing
Aug 23, 2009 05:22 EST
Lawyers for a Guantánamo Bay detainee will be allowed to question — in
writing — accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a federal
judge has ruled. The decision is a setback for government lawyers who had sought
to limit the scope of detainee lawyers’ challenges to the detention and prosecution
of terror suspects.
In a written ruling, Judge Ricardo Urbina says lawyers for detainee Abdul Raheem
Ghulam Rabbani can submit written questions about their client to Mohammed.
Prosecutors say he worked for Mohammed, but Rabbani’s lawyers contend he was
just a menial servant, not a part of any terror network.
The ruling says prosecutors may review the answers before delivering them to
Rabbani’s lawyers to remove any national security information.
Government lawyers had unsuccessfully sought to convince the judge that any
questioning of Mohammed by Rabbani’s lawyers would risk exposing details of
sensitive intelligence programs.
Urbina’s 15-page decision says Mohammed may have information that could help
Rabbani’s case, and allows Rabbani’s lawyers to submit “a list of narrowly
tailored” questions for Mohammed.
Mohammed has boasted of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks, and he is the most
high-profile detainee of the 229 terror suspects held at the detention facility
at the U.S. military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
His possible testimony was a contentious issue in another terrorism case, the
trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. The court ruled… Continue reading
August 10, 2009
PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY
Today we began the signature review, and with much promise! The first step:
to do a recount of the signatures the Board of Elections did validate. And,
after counting only 5 out of 52 volumes, we have found the Board of Elections
reported 229 signatures fewer than what they actually validated inside the volumes.
If their count continues to be off at the same rate, we will gain some 2,300
signatures – SIMPLY BY RECOUNTING THE ONES THAT WERE ALREADY VALIDATED. And
we have already identified one petitioner who collected hundreds of signatures
and was wrongly invalidated, along with all the signatures he gathered! And
there are thousands of invalidated signatures ripe for challenging because the
signer is on the voter roll but put their wrong address – these signatures will
also be deemed valid if the signature on the petition matches the signature
on their voter registration form.
In short, we have every reason to be optimistic that we will eclipse the 30,000
requirement, and that we will have our day in court to argue our right to establish
a new commission to investigate 9/11.
We need help. We have 9 more business days to finish our review, and we have
no more than 8 volunteers signed up to help on any day. We can use 20 volunteers
per day, and we will need that many to get the job done. If you live in or around
NYC, please give just one or… Continue reading
By Bruce Crumley
July 19, 2009
It isn’t easy to have sympathy for Frenchman Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person
convicted in connection with the September 11 terror attacks. During his trial,
Moussaoui pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and prayed that al-Qaeda
succeeds in its violent jihad against the U.S; he also mocked the families of
9/11 victims and dared the court to inflict the harshest punishment for the
crimes which, after veering erratically between denial and advocacy, he finally
took responsibility for. In May 2006, a jury decided against the death penalty
but sent Moussaoui, now 41, to life imprisonment and near total isolation in
ADX Supermax prison.
Now Moussaoui says he regrets pleading guilty. But, he has a problem: U.S. law does not allow those who have taken that route to appeal their cases. His only shot at winning a lighter sentence is the July 14 decision by a federal appeals court in Virginia to re-hear arguments that the government had failed to turn over key evidence to Moussaoui and his lawyer that might have helped in his defense. As politically untenable as it may seem, President Barack Obama should support Moussaoui’s efforts to win another trial. (Check out a story about “Bombers Row” in a Colorado’s Supermax Prison.)
Why? Because justice and sympathy are different issues. Moussaoui’s courtroom antics and declarations were outrageous but the prosecution of his trial was a farce nonetheless. Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema repeatedly criticized certain aspects of the… Continue reading
By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer
Jul. 17, 2009
Sen. Arlen Specter suggested during Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing
yesterday that the Obama administration sought to block Supreme Court review
of lawsuits blaming Saudi Arabia for the Sept. 11 attacks for fear of offending
an important ally.
The remark came as the Pennsylvania Democrat questioned Sotomayor on whether
the Supreme Court, by deciding ever fewer cases, had effectively ducked important
constitutional questions left unresolved by lower courts.
In a July 7 letter to Sotomayor, Specter also raised the issue of Saudi involvement
in the attacks, asserting that “plaintiffs’ counsel had developed considerable
evidence showing Saudi complicity.”
Law firms representing thousands of victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families,
along with insurers and other interests that suffered economic losses, sued
the government of Saudi Arabia and senior members of its royal family, alleging
that they financed Islamic charities that, in turn, bankrolled al-Qaeda.
On June 29, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of lower-court rulings
that the Saudi government and members of its royal family cannot be sued under
U.S. law for allegedly supporting terrorism. Shortly before that ruling, the
Obama administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to reject
the case, in part because the administration had not given its sign-off.
The Center City law firm Cozen O’Connor represents most of the insurers in
the case and led the Supreme Court appeal. The South Carolina-based firm Motley
Rice represents thousands of 9/11 victims and their… Continue reading
By Harry R. Weber (AP)
July 17, 2009
ATLANTA — A federal judge ruled Thursday that airlines and other companies
in the industry that are being sued by families of terrorism victims can’t question
FBI agents about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The defendants wanted to depose the agents and sought access to other evidence
related to the investigation of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people
in order to show at trial that the government’s failure to catch the terrorists
and prevent the attacks mitigates and excuses any alleged fault on the aviation
The government objected.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York said the defendants
have also argued that the terrorists likely would have succeeded even if the
defendants had exercised due care.
"The issues to be tried relate to the acts and omissions of the aviation
defendants, not the government," Hellerstein wrote in his ruling. "The
government’s failures to detect and abort the terrorists’ plots would not affect
the aviation defendants’ potential liability."
There was no immediate comment from the defendants or their lawyers. Spokespersons
for UAL Corp.’s United Airlines, AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and US Airways
Group Inc. declined to comment. Lawyers for several airlines did not immediately
return calls seeking comment. Other defendants include Delta Air Lines Inc.,
Continental Airlines Inc., AirTran Airways, Boeing Co. and several airport authorities
and security companies.
The judge said he plans to set a trial date for the lawsuits involving three
wrongful… Continue reading
tedwalter [at] nyccan.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 15, 2009
9/11 Families, First Responders and Survivors Gather at City Hall to
Endorse 2009 Ballot Referendum to Establish New Official 9/11 Investigation
in NYC, Call on New Yorkers for Support
New York – Outside City Hall today relatives of 9/11 victims, first responders
and survivors of the September 11th attacks gathered to endorse a November ballot
initiative to establish a new 9/11 investigation under the auspices of the city
government of New York. Support on the street is high, the group says, and polls
indicate a majority of New Yorkers wants a new investigation.
On June 24, the group leading the ballot initiative, the New York City Coalition
for Accountability Now (NYC CAN) filed a petition containing 52,000 signatures
with the office of the City Clerk. The official filing initiated a 60-day period
specified in Section 37 of the New York Municipal Home Rule Law in which the
City Council is asked to review the petition and approve its placement on the
upcoming November ballot.
Since this milestone filing, the group has gathered an additional 15,000 signatures
and received several endorsements from prominent leaders. Renowned whistleblower
and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, who TIME magazine selected as one of three
“Persons of the Year” in 2002, endorsed a new investigation yesterday,
as reported by RAWSTORY (http://rawstory.com/blog/2009/07/ex-fbi-agent-why-i-support-a-new-911-investigation/).
Bill Doyle, who lost his son Joseph, has been an outspoken leader of an active
community of relatives of the… Continue reading
Court won’t hear Sept. 11 claims vs. Saudi Arabia
June 29, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has refused to allow victims of the Sept.
11 attacks to pursue lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and four of its princes over
charitable donations that were allegedly funneled to al-Qaida.
The court, in an order Monday, is leaving in place the ruling of a federal
appeals court that the country and the princes are protected by sovereign immunity,
which generally means that foreign countries can’t be sued in American courts.
The Obama administration had angered some victims and families by urging the
justices to pass up the case.
In their appeal, the more than 6,000 plaintiffs said the government’s court
brief filed in early June was an “apparent effort to appease a sometime
ally” just before President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
At issue were obstacles in American law to suing foreign governments and their
officials as well as the extent to which people can be held financially responsible
for acts of terrorism committed by others.
The appeal was filed by relatives of victims killed in the attacks and thousands
of people who were injured, as well as businesses and governments that sustained
property damage and other losses.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York previously upheld a federal
judge’s ruling throwing out the lawsuits. The appeals court said the defendants
were protected by sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs would need to prove
that the princes engaged in intentional actions aimed at U.S.…