Sunday, December 27, 2009

Arlen Specter surprises again: Reintroduces legislation to allow 9/11 lawsuits against Saudi ruling-class to move forward


Washington D.C.--If there's anything one can say about the senator from Pennsylvania, it's that he's unpredictable and probably really does have this nation's best interests at-heart--in his own mind at least. We'll set aside the magic-bullet theory for a moment...

This week--on December 21st--Specter called on the floor of the Senate for the passage of legislation that would allow lawsuits initiated by thousands of survivors (as well as the families of those killed and insurance companies) of the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001 to move forward, and introduced the proposed bill with bipartisan support from no less a non-man than Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), although I'm sure it's purely a political move on his part since it's not likely to pass, at least not on his watch.

That would require will and real support, something Graham and others in both major parties aren't inclined to do since there's a lot of money at stake, never mind the destabilizing effects actual justice directed at the Saudi ruling-clans would have on the world's oil supply and the global economy. The coverage in the mainstream media--once again--has been virtually non-existent.

It's not his first time, and he began this road in late 2003 with roughly the same reaction, meaning indifference if not obstructionism. On October 25th, 2007, Specter introduced the "Saudi Arabia Accountability Act" that was designed to accomplish essentially the same aims, meaning dragging the Saudi government and various institutions and charities into the light and allowing lawsuits
to proceed that are currently being barred by the State Department (the executive branch) and questionable Federal Circuit Court rulings, more recently in the 2nd Circuit:
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. ("Specter looks to revive 9/11 suits against Saudis," Philadelphia Inquirer, 12.24.2009)
This is all very new since Americans have never been allowed to sue a foreign power without the permission of the executive branch through established channels at the State Department. In other words, this is a new right that Senator Specter is proposing, an expansion of legal recourse for the American people that should have been in-place generations ago.
Granted, this is just a new submission of essentially the same legislation he's been proposing since as early as 2003, but he's not giving up, and neither should anyone concerned at getting to the bottom of what happened. The problem for the "truther" movement is that this doesn't fit the anti-government agenda or many of their theories that go in the same direction (nowhere), so we can expect a general lack-of-enthusiasm let alone any noise over this from them. They're hardly alone in the business: there are extremely powerful players in the financial and political sectors whose ties to the Saudi regime run deep. Instead, hundreds-of-thousands are running around in denial with their science fiction theories that would never stand the legal test in a court of law.
This is why the last administration did everything it could to keep these things from going anywhere, and likewise for the new one. Rather than actually protecting the American people then, what we have is a sham in the so-called war on terror, making it blatantly reminiscent of that other failed war, the war on drugs. Who's side are they on anyway? Do we really want to get to the truth at all? If not, we need to stop talking about concern over the victims and using them as a political hot-potato, now. Frankly, it was always distasteful, but this is probably another reason that Graham signed-on with Specter as a co-sponsor, to cover his and the GOP's ass for the next elections hoping everyone's forgotten their real role in all of this.
Here are a few things remarked on by Specter when he introduced a similar bill in 2007 that "truthers" (their "truth" being highly-selective) tend to ignore:
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, evidence has emerged indicating that support for al-Qaeda, Ramas, and other organizations has come from Saudi Arabia.

Testimony presented to several Congressional committees, including the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Intelligence committees in both houses, has indicated that Saudi Arabia is an epicenter for terrorist financing. These committees have also found the Saudi government's cooperation in investigations into the al-Qaeda terrorist network has been lackluster.

In the 108 Congress, as a member of the Governmental Affairs Committee and as a member of the Judiciary Committee, we worked to establish a basic point that anybody who knowingly contributes to a terrorist organization is an accessory before the fact to murder; so when people contribute to al-Qaeda or Hamas, knowing that both organizations employ suicide bombers, they are accessories to murder.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted in 2001, mandates that all States "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts,'' take "the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts,'' and "deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts.'' There is mounting evidence that Saudi Arabia has not been compliant with this resolution.

The 9/11 Commission interviewed numerous military officers and government officials who repeatedly listed Saudi Arabia as a prime place for terrorists to set up bases and found that "Saudi Arabia's society was a place where al-Qaeda raised money directly from individuals through charities.''

The Council on Foreign Relations concluded in a 2002 report that "for years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, and for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye.''

There are indications that, since the May 12, 2003, suicide bombings in Riyadh, the Government of Saudi Arabia is making a more serious effort to combat terrorism. That said, I would like to draw attention to the following findings recanted by organizations which have studied the record of the Saudis.

In a June 2004 report entitled "Update on the Global Campaign Against Terrorist Financing,'' the Council on Foreign Relations reported that "we find it regrettable and unacceptable that since September 11, 2001, we know of not a single Saudi donor of funds to terrorist groups who have been publicly punished.''

A joint committee of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives issued a report on July 24, 2003, that quotes various U.S. Government personnel who complained that the Saudis refused to cooperate in the investigation of Osama bin Laden and his network both before and after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
It should be remembered that the Saudi regime executes their own citizens publicly in Riyadh with beheadings and amputations for violations of religious laws in what is a theocratic dictatorship. Interestingly, there's no entry for the legislation for either December 21st or the 24th (the date of the Philadelphia Inquirer coverage) on his own web page, but the story is gradually getting out there. This pretty much spells-it-out in a clear and basic form that should be understandable to anyone who can read and comprehend, and Specter is hardly a radical.

Neither is
Charles Schumer (D-NY). What's radical in the current political culture, however, is for this legislation to go anywhere at all. Is this about justice or agendas? Go ask Alex Jones. Go ask the Obama administration. They're against any such moves that the senator from Pennsylvania is suggesting. But Specter appears to feel that the prospects for the bill and its main-thrust are good, stating, "I think it will pass." Let's hope so since the Saudis aren't about to stand down anytime soon without sanctions. Think what you want, but government is the only answer in all of this, surely not oil companies and trusts.


"Specter looks to revive 9/11 suits against Saudis," Philadelphia Inquirer, 12.24.2009: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/homepage/20091224_Specter_looks_to_revive_9_11_suits_against_Saudis.html