|William Doyle: "I'm ecstatic."|
Saudi Arabia and 9/11 have been in the news together recently for reasons other than the congressional resolution urging president Obama to release the 28 redacted pages pertaining to alleged Saudi involvement in the attacks of that day.
On Thursday, December 19, a three-judge federal panel reversed an earlier ruling which had granted Saudi Arabia immunity from a lawsuit filed in 2002 which claimed that in the years before the attacks, the Saudis had knowingly funded charities which were funneling the money to al-Qaeda. In 2005, a Manhattan district court ruled that Saudi Arabia was immune from prosecution because the kingdom had the right to finance the charities of its choice, and that ruling was upheld in 2008. But it was reversed on Thursday, and now Saudi Arabia has been restored as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The decision has received a modest amount of national coverage. ABC News [or here] summarized the decision and quoted "William Doyle, the father of Joseph Doyle, 25, a Cantor-Fitzgerald employee who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center" as saying:
"I'm ecstatic.... For 12 years we've been fighting to expose the people who financed those bastards.... Christmas has come early to the 9/11 families. We're going to have our day in court."I have no wish to rain on Mr. Doyle's Christmas. He has certainly been through enough. But I feel obliged to point out that he may be going after the wrong "bastards," or even the right "bastards" for the wrong reasons. After all, if the attack on the World Trade Center was not done with hijacked airplanes, but by some other means, then the question of who funded al-Qaeda takes on a much different significance, does it not?.
More detailed coverage was provided by a local sources in New York and (especially) Philadelphia, the latter being the home of Cozen O'Connor, the law firm representing the plaintiffs. Needless to say, there was no mainstream coverage from any point of view other than the presumption that al-Qaeda alone was responsible for all the death and destruction of 9/11. So, for example, at the New York Daily News [or here] we can read:
Relatives of people killed when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field can now resume lawsuit against the Arabian kingdom.The Daily News piece, by Daniel Beekman, features more quotes from William Doyle:
"I’m ecstatic, because we have a lot of information and evidence.... These people are getting off scot-free. They didn’t even get a slap on the wrist, and to this day we still have terrorism running rampant. We have to hold accountable the people who finance terrorism....Beekman continues:
Doyle compared the role of Saudi Arabia to that of a mob boss hiring a hit man.One difference (to continue Doyle's analogy) is that in this case the victim appears to have died from something other than a gunshot wound. So the situation is quite messy: interesting, complicated, and dangerous in unexpected ways.
"Not only does the person who pulls the trigger go to jail, so does the person who financed him," Doyle said. "What’s different about this situation?"
|Stephen Cozen: "I think it is an |
eminently correct decision"
Cozen O'Connor and several other law firms sued the government of Saudi Arabia, various Islamist charities, and alleged terrorism financiers in 2003, charging that they provided financial support to al-Qaeda over 10 years before the 9/11 attacks. The firms alleged that Saudi Arabia provided tens of millions of dollars to charities that in turn bankrolled al-Qaeda units in the Balkans, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Senior U.S. government officials warned Saudis before the 9/11 attacks that government-funded charities were bankrolling terrorist units, but, they said, the Saudis failed to react.Mondics doesn't include any comments from William Doyle, but he does quote a couple of attorneys:
A federal district judge in Manhattan dismissed the Saudi government and members of the royal family as defendants in 2005, saying the government was within its right to finance the charities and was not responsible for what the charities might have done with the money.
That was upheld in 2008 by the Second Circuit. But the court said Thursday that it had decided to reverse its decisions because it had allowed a related lawsuit to go forward on the same grounds cited in the suit against the Saudis.
"I think it is an eminently correct decision," Stephen Cozen of Cozen O'Connor said of the Second Circuit's opinion restoring Saudi Arabia as a defendant. "The kingdom and the Saudi High Commission deserved to be back in the case as defendants, and we are prepared to meet any of their legal and factual arguments with substantial legal and factual arguments of our own."
|John O'Neill, former head of |
counterintelligence at the FBI
"It means that the Second Circuit realized that it had made a mistake and did what courts are expected to do, which is fix it," said Jerry S. Goldman, a Philadelphia lawyer with the firm Anderson Kill, who represents the estate of John O'Neill, a former head of counterintelligence at the FBI.It goes without saying that the decision may complicate international relations:
O'Neill, who was raised in Atlantic City, sounded some of the earliest warnings about Osama bin Laden. He was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center, where he had gone to work as head of security after leaving the FBI only a few weeks earlier.
Victims of the 9/11 attacks and their relatives have complained bitterly about the U.S. government's failure to turn over more information about its investigations of Saudi support for al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations.Speaking of which, Mondics mentions another potential complication, and a very interesting one:
They are pushing for legislation that would reduce protections afforded by U.S. law to foreign governments against such lawsuits. The Saudis, meanwhile, have complained that lawsuits have disrupted relations between the two governments.
The decision marked the second advance in the last week for lawyers representing 9/11 victims, their families, and insurers that lost billions covering businesses and properties damaged or destroyed ... On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on an appeal by Cozen, asking for the reinstatement of another group of defendants - dozens of individuals and financial institutions accused of funneling money to al-Qaeda before the attacks. The request suggests that the court views the matter as having some importance and increases the odds that it may agree to hear the appeal.This is interesting, and complicated, and (as I read it) very challenging to the Obama administration, because widespread public knowledge of just who has been funding al-Qaeda over the years would be as dangerous to "national security" as the contents of the 28 redacted pages.
[Next: The Cutouts]