Specter looks to revive 9/11 suits against Saudis

Posted on Thu, Dec. 24, 2009
Specter looks to revive 9/11 suits against Saudis

By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer

In a sign that the bitter litigation between victims of the 9/11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia is far from over, Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday introduced legislation that would overturn court rulings barring lawsuits that contend the desert kingdom helped cause the terrorism.

Specter (D., Pa.) said the legislation would clarify that lawsuits by U.S. citizens could go forward without a sign-off from the State Department.

A federal appeals court in Manhattan last year dismissed claims against the Saudi government, saying such litigation can proceed only if the State Department finds that the Saudis provided financial aid and other assistance to terrorist groups.

Besides clarifying the law, the bill would reinstate those lawsuits.

The Philadelphia law firm Cozen O'Connor has sued Saudi Arabia, members of the Saudi royal family, and more than a dozen Islamic charities, alleging responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. The Cozen lawsuit, on behalf of dozens of U.S. and international insurers that lost billions of dollars at ground zero, accuses the Saudi government of financing charities that in turn laundered money into al-Qaeda.

Thousands of victims and relatives, represented by other law firms, also have sued the Saudis.

In a Senate floor speech, Specter argued that the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was a misreading of the law and could hamper efforts to fight terrorism.

"Substantial evidence establishes that these defendants had provided funding and sponsorship to al-Qaeda without which it could not have carried out the 9/11 attacks," he said. "The Second Circuit's and other lower court rulings not only deprive the victims of terrorism the compensation to which they are entitled but also remove a powerful weapon in our arsenal against foreign terrorism."

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), giving it a bipartisan cast. It would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to make clear that U.S. citizens can sue foreign governments that support terrorist groups for attacks that occur in the United States, even without a State Department designation that a government had aided terrorists.

A federal District Court judge ruled in Manhattan in 2005 that the Saudi government could not be sued, and the Second Circuit upheld that decision.

In June, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case after the Obama administration argued that permitting such lawsuits without a State Department sign-off could interfere with U.S. foreign policy.

The degree to which the executive branch should influence litigation against foreign governments has been at the heart of debates over the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

For much of the nation's history, the executive branch had near complete control in deciding whether U.S. citizens could sue.

But that gave rise to allegations that politics, not questions of law, had become decisive. In response, ever more specific laws laid out circumstances under which U.S. citizens could sue foreign governments.

Critics, including Specter, insist that the Obama administration intervened in May with an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court not to take the case because Saudi Arabia is the nation's most important Arab ally and the litigation had become an irritant in U.S.-Saudi relations.

They contend that the filing was timed to coincide with President Obama's visit to Riyadh, an allegation denied by U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who prepared the brief.

"She wants to coddle the Saudis," Specter said of Kagan.

The bill's chances of passage were unclear yesterday, but legislative staffers said more cosponsors would probably join in the coming weeks.

And Specter said its prospects were good.

"I think it will pass," he said.

on the face of it. . .

. . . this proposed legislation seems like it would be a good thing. but given that "single bullet specter" introduced the bill, one has to wonder, "what's really going on?" see http://www.jonesreport.com/article/04_08/08spector.html.

Exactly the point Dennis, good eye.

As I pointed out in my comment to this same posting a couple days ago, (from Jon) Arlen Specter has got "WEASEL" written all over him.
He's been well-rewarded for his years of supine service to the status quo, starting with his creation of the ludicrous 'magic-bullet' theory (JFK-Warren Commission), which was the 'building-7-office-fire' theory of its day.

As you probably know Dennis, a central pillar of dis-information is to use pieces of the truth to distract and detour the public's eyes away from the center of the crime scene, towards the periphery, where it appears to stir up some 'controversy,' show's 'the-system's-not-afraid-to-go-after-the-bad-guys, and so on.

This initiative will come to not. They may expose a little information on the Saudis, sewing suspicion and more animosity in the direction of Arabs, in general; but the real dirt on their higher connections to U.S. intelligence will never come to light.

It does make for good theatre, though.

Some useful information might be disclosed; so it's worth keeping a lazy eye on it; but let's not be drawn into giving this anything more than it deserves.

To me, the REALLY important part of this story is that Arlen -magic-bullet-Specter is introducing the bill, which gives us an opportunity to point out to people, that a cover-up and dis-information campaign is underway. It's akin to when Bush tried to hire Kissinger to head the 9-11 Commission, and the howls of outrage were so loud it would have been counter-productive to keep him on.

We should raise the 'magic-bullet' alarm. Spread the word: one of JFK's co-killers is trying to revive a plan to blame the Saudis for 9-11!!

If we put Arlen's antics in a Hollywood script, no one would believe it.

thanks much...

...i somehow missed the earlier posting. excellent comments there too, including yours, my "good eye" now can see ;-)


In my current article at www.DNotice.org ('Springtime For Michael Springman Or How A Visa Bureau Chief In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Learned To Love Denying Visas To Terrorists'), and if my research is correct, it wasn't Saudi Arabia that granted visas to 15 of the 9/11 hijackers to travel to the United States, even though all 15 visas, according to six experts, "...should have been denied on their face", it was the United States 'CIA' Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that approved those unqualified persons to travel to the United States.

Why would the CIA do that? More importantly, who in the United States government wanted these terrorists in America?

Dean Jackson/Editor-in-Chief DNotice.org
Washington, DC

The US Gov. covers

up for Saudi Arabia & Israel equally. You can bet you're bottom, they both did their parts on 9.11

Robert Bauer should get involved with this. He has written about the stand-down orders the CIA had in regards to Saudi Arabia.

Yes, the Saudis and Israeli's both did their part...

but they sure didn't do it alone.

Nor is it very likely that either of them were the lead agency.

I don't trust Bauer an inch. Are you ever really ex-CIA?
Maybe... but how do you...?

He's been on the Front-lines of the 'blame the Saudis' since at least 2003, when he was featured
on the CBC's hit-piece about 9'11, "Conspiracy'-Theory."

Sounded so sincere, very critical of Bush.. yet he's been making the rounds on mainstream TV...
Since when does an ex-CIA get to spout off on the President on prime-time?

And please explain 'truthoverprofit,' what do you mean... "the stand-down orders the CIA had in regards to Saudi Arabia." What does that mean?



I read Baeur's book & he said the CIA has nobody operating inside Saudi Arabia in the mid-late 90's. (He was in Iraq) He said the agency had a black hole around the country.

Remember that Israel & Saudi already woked in concert to arm the Mujhadenn (Taliban) in Afghan.

I'd like to hear Baeur speak about this case & judge for myself.

This issue points to outrageous contradictions

1) CIA, FBI, and NSA conduct in relation to ID'ed al Qaeda operatives. If al Qaeda was a true enemy (as we were told) then what was US intel doing? The given explanations (i.e. bureaucratic inefficiency) don't make any sense. John Farmer can only make his analysis fit by pretending that there is no such thing as corruption in government. Thus his analysis comes across as propaganda.

2) If al Qaeda was a true enemy of the Saudi royals then why did some fund al Qaeda by way of the charities? I agree with Prince Turki 100%--it doesn't make any sense for Saudis to support a true enemy. He points to post 9/11 terrorist attacks inside Saudi Arabia as proof that al Qaeda was indeed a real enemy. Yet journalists have noted that many governments find it convenient to use the catchall label "al Qaeda" because it resonates with the public.

There is also the disconnect of tolerance for Bin Laden. We are told Bin Laden was so popular that the Saudis feared a backlash if they arrested him. Another theory put forth suggests the Saudis made a deal--attack outside Saudi Arabia and we will look the other way. Since when are the Saudis willing to negotiate? One they could have simply killed him and blamed Israel or the US. I don't believe it is a rule that the Saudis had to take credit for an operation against Bin Laden. Two they could have put a ton of pressure on the family. After all the Bin Laden construction company only prospers because the Saudi royals allow it. So it isn't clear that Bin Laden's al Qaeda was truly an enemy of the Saudi royals.

3) If al Qaeda was a true enemy then it seems both the US and Saudi Arabia would have pooled their vast resources to eliminate the threat. Yet the public record indicates just the opposite, that US intel was ordered to back off al Qaeda. One who issued such treasonous orders? Two why were the orders obeyed? Three why are officials who refuse to answer these questions accepted as credible when they tell us they have to have the crutch of police state powers to prevent terrorist attacks?

Note: I'm not at all suggesting al Qaeda are nice guys. The point is that the US and Saudi governments didn't act like one would expect governments to act when faced with a real threat. Shouldn't government officials be able to explain why their conduct is so out of line with their super patriot talking points?

For sure Specter's motives are questionable

If he truly cared about justice he would propose legislation to declassify US records. And he would point out the contradiction between torture and warrantless surveillance vs. State Department refusal to name the Saudis as terrorism sponsors. After all it is the government's story. They tell us how dangerous al Qaeda is. How we must give up civil liberties to defeat them. How we must wage multi-front wars to defeat them. If this is true then why aren't State Department officials on trial for aiding and abetting an enemy?

The hope is that this case helps to unravel the unanswered questions.