by Rory Eastburg
March 24, 2009
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
A Manhattan federal court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on whether more
than a million pages of documents related to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
should remain sealed.
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court in New York
City will hear arguments from The New York Times and the Reporters
Committee, as well as victims’ families and attorneys for the aviation industry
The documents come from lawsuits the families of certain Sept. 11 victims brought
against airlines and related defendants. According to a statement from the plaintiffs’
attorneys, more than a million documents remain sealed by an overbroad protective
order that allowed the defendants to unilaterally designate vast numbers of
documents as containing confidential trade secrets.
Neither the victims’ families nor the media groups seek to unseal documents
the government has classified as containing “Sensitive Security Information.”
Attorneys for the victims’ families are seeking to set aside the blanket
designations of confidentiality, arguing that documents withheld as trade secrets
include such important information as “whether the airport screeners’
magnetometers were working on 9/11; whether the screeners were qualified for
their jobs in terms of language skills, citizenship, past criminal record and
other factors; video footage of the hijackers going through airport security;
and training manuals for screeners.”
The Times, on behalf of itself and the Reporters Committee, intervened
for the limited purpose of requesting access to the sealed documents. In a motion
filed on Jan.…
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK (AP) — NEW YORK — A judge said Wednesday he favors keeping Sept. 11-related documents and interviews secret until the trials for several families of victims suing the airline industry, an opinion that upset several victims’ family members.
Donald Migliori, a lawyer for families of three people who died on hijacked planes in the 2001 attacks, asked U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein to make nearly a million pages of evidence and 200 depositions public, saying there was no reason for secrecy.
Hellerstein did not rule, but he said he favored not publically disclosing evidence that had been gathered and shared with lawyers for the victims under a confidentiality agreement until a trial occurs. No trial has yet been scheduled.
He said the confidentiality agreement speeded a pretrial process that enabled more than 90 families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to settle their cases. Only three families have not settled.
Michael Rowe Feagley, a lawyer for the aviation defendants, said it would not be fair to make all of the pretrial evidence public now, especially since defendants had turned over so much with the understanding that it would remain confidential before trial. He said it would take “extraordinary circumstances and an extreme need for it” to force its public release.
Mike Low, the father of a flight attendant who died on one of the hijacked planes, said afterwards that he was disappointed but not surprised by Hellerstein’s position.
Low sued in spring 2003 on behalf of his daughter, Sara Low, 28, a Boston-based flight attendant who died when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center.…Continue reading
Waterboarding, Rough Interrogation of Abu Zubaida Produced False Leads, Officials
By Peter Finn and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A01
When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to
waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that
they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations
yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White
House to get those secrets out of him.
The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda
terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of
Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials
who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through
the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information
from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was
obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that
made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly
described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials
called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.
Abu Zubaida was not even an official member… Continue reading
This moving 50-second piece released by NYC Coalition for Accountability Now features 9/11 Family Members Jean Canavan, Bob McIlvaine and Manny Badillo asking the unanswered questions and calling upon all New Yorkers to “Vote For Answers.” The coalition has gathered nearly 45,000 signatures, and needs your help to get to the 70,000-signature goal. Please take a moment to go to NYC Coalition for Accountability Now and give what you can to help make this a reality. Only by getting it on the ballot can New Yorkers “Vote For Answers.”
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,
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.…
U.S. May Permit 9/11 Guilty Pleas in Capital Cases
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
June 5, 2009
Full story published at New York Times
The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.
The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom.
The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention.
The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to terrorism but whose cases present challenges. Much of the evidence against the men accused in the Sept. 11 case, as well as against other detainees, is believed to have come from confessions they gave during intense interrogations at secret C.I.A. prisons. In any proceeding, the reliability of those statements would be challenged, making trials difficult and drawing new political pressure over detainee treatment.
Some experts on the commissions said such a proposal would raise new questions about the fairness of a system that has been criticized as permitting shortcuts to assure convictions.…Continue reading
Tuesday, June 9th at 9am Pacific – 12 Noon Eastern – 17:00 GMT Will be archived at http://noliesradio.org after the broadcast.
Listen to this live interview with William Pepper,human rights attorney extraordinaire; proponent and prospective Commissioner, New York City NYCCAN.org ballot initiative; author, Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, Jr. . In November 1999, William Pepper won a jury trial finding that James Earl Ray was innocent, and that U.S. military and intelligence officials conspired to murder Martin Luther King, Jr. He is currently working with the NYC CAN Ballot Initiative to get a real investigation of 9/11 with subpoena power on the November ballot. Last month, William Pepper spent ten 16-hour days preparing a legal defense of the Spanish Court’s initiative to prosecute George W. Bush for war crimes. He writes: “I believe that this case may be the most important case in my lifetime for the advancement of international human rights law and condemnation of these atrocious policies and practices which go back to the divine right of kings, perpetuated by fascism.”
Email your questions now to the host of “Fair and Balanced,” Kevin Barrett. Deadline for emailed questions is 9pm Pacific Time, Monday, June 8th. Not all emailed questions will be answered on the air.
June 9, 2009
By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia Inquirer
At the moment the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 10:28
a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, Sharon Premoli was scrambling up an escalator from the
below-ground concourse toward the street with dozens of other office workers
in a desperate bid to escape.
She looked behind her and saw two things that are burned forever in her memory:
A human chain of evacuees riding the escalator and a boiling cloud of dust and
debris racing toward them.
The force of that swirling storm picked her up and threw her into nearby storefront.
After she awoke, she said, she soon realized she was lying on the lifeless body
of a man and that she was covered with his blood.
"I remember taking my nails and scraping my tongue to remove the debris
from my mouth," said Premoli, at the time a vice president for development
with a financial services software company based in the North Tower. "I
tried to get up and I realized I was lying on the body, and I am profoundly
haunted by that."
Strip away all the arcana and legal angels dancing on heads of pins, and Premoli
is the human face of litigation alleging Saudi Arabia financed the 9/11 hijackers.
She is one of 6,000 World Trade Center victims and their families who have
charged in lawsuits that the government of Saudi Arabia or its officials funded
Islamic charities that in turn… Continue reading
Friday, June 12, 2009
An East Coast 9/11 truth activist is preparing to file a defamation lawsuit against TV / radio personality, Glenn Beck, the producers of the Glenn Beck Program, and the Fox News Channel.
Specifically, Greg Hoover will be suing the above-described defendants in Federal Court for Beck’s having repeatedly broadcast statements characterizing those who question the government’s official version of the events of 9/11 as, “anarchists,” “terrorists” and as persons denying the Holocaust.
The complaint will note that – on October 22, 2007 – Beck suggested that those identifying themselves as associated with the 9/11 truth movement are “dangerous” “anarchists” who deny the Holocaust, and are “the kind of group that Timothy McVeigh would come from.”
The suit will also note that during Beck’s June 10th broadcast Beck linked the murder of the Washington D.C. holocaust museum guard with “9/11 truthers.”
As I have previously written, suing people for defamation who falsely claim that 9/11 activists are terrorists could be a good way to stand up to these bullies.
Hoover told me by email:
Copies of my actual initial filings will be available for media distribution within the upcoming week…
I do so having now cast off all other personal concerns. Having chosen sides… I’ll stand with the patriots.
Godspeed, Mr. Hoover.
I will update this post with links to Mr. Hoover’s complaint as soon as it is available.
Note: Mr. Hoover has not requested either legal or financial assistance. However, if you are… Continue reading
by Jon Gold
On 1/8/2008, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “a huge lawsuit against the government of Saudi Arabia and key members of its royal family was put to a crucial test today as lawyers for victims of the 9/11 attacks urged a federal appeals court to reinstate the government of Saudi Arabia as a defendant.” The Cozen O’Connor law firm in Philadelphia “was the first to file suit against the government of Saudi Arabia in 2003, charging that the desert kingdom bears responsibility for the attacks because it permitted Islamic charities under its control to bankroll Osama bin Laden and his global terror movement.” The lawsuit “suffered a setback in 2005 when New York federal district court judge Richard Conway Casey ruled that the federal foreign sovereign immunity act barred lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and members of the royal family.”
On… 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.…
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
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 companies’ part.
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
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 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
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
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
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