Monday, August 18, 2008

Saudis Not Liable For 9/11 Attacks

I love the smell of American jurisprudence in the morning....

A Federal Appeals court has ruled that 'our Eternal Friends' Saudi Arabia and four of its princes cannot be held liable in the Sept. 11 attacks - even if they were aware that donations to Muslim groups would be funneled to al Qaeda.

This bit of wisdom came out of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They ruled that the Kingdom was protected by sovereign immunity and the plaintiffs would need to prove that the princes engaged in intentional actions aimed at U.S. residents. Apparently the court felt that funding a bunch of wahabist mosques and madrassahs and a money trail to people like al-Haramain wasn't enough:

Justin Timothy Green, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he was disappointed with the ruling and the plaintiffs were considering an appeal because the decision would make it harder to collect from others.

"The bottom line is it's a difficult proof level to say someone gave money intending it to be used in a terrorist attack in the United States as opposed to merely giving it to anti-American groups and foreseeing it," he said.

"Ultimately, al Qaeda couldn't have done the attacks if they didn't have the resources to train and equip the 19 terrorists" responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, Green said. {...}

Lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages were filed by representatives, survivors and relatives of the victims against foreign governments, charities, financial institutions and individuals believed to have provided support to al Qaeda.

The plaintiffs claimed the defendants gave money to charities in order to funnel it to terrorist organizations behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

In its ruling, the judges said it would have to dismiss the case against the princes even if it were proven that they were aware of bin Laden's public vows to harm the United States.

"Even if the four princes were reckless in monitoring how their donations were spent, or could and did foresee that recipients of their donations would attack targets in the United States, that would be insufficient," the three-judge panel said.

Of course, it was more than merely 'a public vow to harm the United States' was a declaration of war,and a clear statement to kill as many Americans as possible. And these people weren't merely 'reckless' - they knew all about it, approved of it and did nothing about al-Qaeda until they started striking in Saudi Arabia. Even then, the Saudis allowed al-Qaeda fighters to travel to Iraq to kill our warriors there for years after 9/11 without any problems, as long as they observed a de facto truce with the Kingdom.

The legal sophistry of sovereign immunity actually fits here. Normally, a nation acting towards the US the way the Saudis did would be cause for a declaration of war..but then, that would have involved taking up arms against some old business partners of the current occupant of the White House and his family, and upset a lot lot of other friends of the Saudis on both sides of the political aisles. And that just wouldn't do, would it?

The Kingdom and their princes will no doubt get off without anything more than some hefty legal bills to pay. But one day, when the history of these times is written, our children and our children's children will marvel at the way we allowed these vipers to feed on us.

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