An international lawyer and political analyst says the United States has sacrificed every basic principle of justice once held “sacrosanct” in the Western legal tradition “for political expediency.”
Barry Grossman, who is based on the Indonesian island of Bali, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday while commenting on a recent US court ruling against Iran over 9/11, and a bill, which if passed by the US Congress, would take away immunity from foreign governments in cases “arising from a terrorist attack that kills an American on American soil.”
On March 9, Iran was ordered by a US judge to pay more than $10.5 billion in damages to families of people killed on 9/11 and to a group of insurers.
US district judge George Daniels issued the default judgment in New York, claiming Iran failed to defend itself against allegations of having a role in the attacks.
The court ruling is based on the 9/11 Commission Report which stated that some attackers moved through Iran and did not have their passports stamped.
Saudi Arabia was legally cleared from paying damages to families of 9/11 victims last year, after Judge Daniels dismissed accounts that Riyadh provided material support to the terrorists and ruled that Riyadh had sovereign immunity.
The verdict comes even though there is no evidence of Iran being involved in planning 9/11. None of the 19 hijackers were Iranian, while 15 were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one each from Egypt and Lebanon.
KSA privy to content of 9/11 report?
Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell off some $750 billion of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi ruling family to be held responsible in US courts for any role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to The New York Times.
Grossman said Saudi Arabia’s threat to pull hundreds of billions of dollars from the US economy suggests that Saudi Arabia is privy to the content of the 28-page classified document which allegedly proves the involvement of certain Saudi officials in the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The 28-page report is part of a larger Congressional report on 9/11 released in 2002 and called the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities, which was conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Reports say the Obama administration and intelligence officials are now weighing whether to declassify the remaining 28 pages.
Grossman told Press TV that the fact that Saudi Arabia is “making such threats suggests that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is somehow privy to the content of the mysterious 28 pages in issue which are, of course, still very much classified or, at the very least, it suggests that the KSA has good reason to be concerned about what is contained in them. That in itself is very revealing.”
“Unfortunately, the significance of all of this will go over most people’s heads. Nobody is alleging that there is any evidence that King Fahd or his government somehow officially sanctioned or arranged the 9/11 attacks. Nobody should be under any illusions about that,” he added.
Contrived little psyop
“Instead, this contrived little psyop stems from Saudi concerns over an increasingly aggressive spate of civil cases being brought in the US federal court system by the surviving relatives of individuals allegedly victimized by terrorism both in the United States and abroad, against nations which are considered hostile to the US-led international system,” Grossman said.
“That such private civil lawsuits are even possible against foreign sovereign states highlights just how absurdly exceptional the United States considers itself to be. Not only does the United States not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over its own international actions but it is, as far as I know, the only nation in the world which has passed legislation that strips away the international norm of sovereign state immunity, thereby enabling private citizens to sue foreign states,” he said.
“Of course it does not take a great deal of specialist insight to understand that the exceptions created by America’s Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act not only are unprecedented in international law but also politically motivated. They certainly were never intended to be used by private citizens against allies of the United States, let alone against a special ally like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he stated.
Israel behind lawsuits against Iran
“The current hubbub has arisen because an increasingly aggressive group within the US legal profession and security apparatus has been very successful at working with Israel to win politically motivated lawsuits against countries like Iran, relying entirely on a self-serving body of US jurisprudential law cultivated within the US legal system which, it is in no way controversial to say, is of course overwhelmingly pro-Israel, with all that entails,” Grossman said.
“This lunacy has recently culminated in a long string of massive judgments against Iran and a handful of other sovereign nations connected with claims which any school boy would intuitively understand are absurd. This witch hunt has become so absurd that one relatively junior federal court judge alone has recently held Iran liable for 9/11 and given another huge judgment against Iran payable to the surviving relatives of occupiers in Palestine who were allegedly killed by terrorist acts carried out by Palestinians,” he noted.
“The basis for these lawsuits in every case lies in the fact that the State Department, in what can only be understood as political interference in the judicial process, long ago designated Iran to be a state sponsor of terrorism without any clear supporting evidence. Under the FSIA legislation, that gives standing to individual victims of so-called terrorism to bring private actions against Iran in circumstances where, but for the FSIA Terrorism exception, Iran would otherwise be entitled to claim sovereign immunity,” he pointed out.
“In litigating these cases, every basic principle of justice once held sacrosanct in the Western legal tradition has been sacrificed for political expediency. The long established legal notions of causation have been watered down to the point of being meaningless while the rules of evidence are made a mockery of by judges permitting well resourced and plaintiffs – backed up by the US and Israeli security apparatus – to call on a large team of like-minded and clearly politically motivated, so-called experts to cite each other’s work as evidence proving some generalized allegation which, even if proved by genuine evidence, would by conventional legal thinking be considered far too remote to the so-called terrorist incident to create any related liability,” Grossman said.
“This lunacy reach a new nadir recently when a New York Federal Court judge held Iran liable for more than $10 billion in damages to only a handful of plaintiffs who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, all on the strength of self-serving expert claims that prior to 9/11 and well before there was any formal organization recognized as al-Qaeda, there was allegedly an arrangement officially sanctioned by senior elements in the Iranian government which enabled some of the 9/11 hijackers to travel through Iran to Afghanistan and back again without having their passports stamped,” the lawyer stated.
“Without wanting to over simplify the court’s ultimate ruling, the trial judge accepted these allegations as proven entirely on the strength of expert testimony and confessions extracted from detainees under torture. He ruled that by letting some of the men who were ultimately alleged to be the 9/11 hijackers travel through Iran in such an informal manner, Iran is entirely liable to all American victims of 9/11 who bring a FSIA suit against Iran,” he said.
“Apparently it never occurred to this relatively junior Federal Court judge that if indeed the travel of a few bin Laden associates was facilitated as alleged, Iran might have had some genuine national security interest in doing so, much the same way the USA has apparently at times had an national security interest in moving bin Laden and other alleged terrorists around the globe and even in and out of the US, without the US thereby necessarily being party to or otherwise responsible for every subsequent act later attributed to them,” he stated.
“In the same proceedings, the judge struck out similar claims against Saudi Arabia on the basis that since Saudi Arabia has never been designated a state sponsor of terror, the FSIA terrorism exception did not apply; so any claim would have to be brought under the non-commercial tort exception to sovereign immunity. That exception requires evidence that the Saudi government committed a recognized, non-commercial tort or civil wrong in US territory,” the lawyer noted.
“Since the allegations against the KSA, though somewhat less remote to the events of 9/11 than the allegations made against Iran, also relate to claims that elements within the Saudi government gave financial and other general support to Osama bin Laden’s Mujahedeen before the alleged hijackers among them are said to have executed the 9/11 attacks, the court struck out the proceedings against the KSA on the basis that there was no indication that the plaintiff’s had even prima facie evidence of a civil wrong committed by the KSA on US territory,” he argued.
Public opinion shifting against Saudi Arabia
“With US and, indeed, worldwide public opinion rapidly shifting against Saudi Arabia, clearly the Saudi regime is now concerned that should the notorious 28 classified pages in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on 9/11 be declassified, the information contained in them might either provide evidence of some non-commercial civil wrong loosely connected with bin Laden or 9/11 and committed by the Saudi government on US territory, or may even lead to the KSA being designated a state sponsor of terror in which case the terrorism exception cynically used to deem Iran liable for 9/11 could be similarly used against the KSA,” Grossman said.
“That such private actions are even possible is quite absurd and a by-product of the unique exceptionalism which the United States asserts for itself and its citizens, in open contravention of international law and custom,” he added.
“While there will be many people in America braying for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be held accountable for 9/11 the way Iran has been, short of hard evidence that the KSA government planned, sanctioned or knowingly supported the 9/11 attacks, any private claims against a sovereign state are simply absurd and untenable, let alone claims litigated in a nation like the United States which sees its legal profession and security apparatus dominated by friends of Israel and which often puts a value of many millions of dollars on a single not so exceptional American life ,” the analyst emphasized.
“That said, the current situation is completely unacceptable. Even with the 28 pages still classified, the basic facts alreadypublicly available suggest that the KSA was far more connected with the events of 9/11 than Iran. If the Obama administration is now going to take part in this contrived psyop to suppress any evidence that might otherwise expose the KSA to civil liability in US courts, then it clearly follows that Iran must also be shielded from the absurd liability being imposed on it by FSIA and a completely tainted US Federal Court system,” he pointed out.
“In any case, it is apparently lost on almost everyone that there is no reason that security apparatus experts with top secret clearances who have read the 28 pages should not be able to give sealed testimony against the KSA in the same way experts gave sealed testimony against Iran based on a privately funded, civilian investigation and classified documents. Of course the very notion of such star chamber tactics in mere civil proceedings is Orwellian and neither the KSA, nor Iran, and indeed no other nation should have to undergo the ignominy of having its internationally recognized sovereign immunity stripped away by self serving testimony from so-called experts, testifying in secret proceedings,” he continued.
“That the Obama administration is now giving cover to the KSA under the ruse of this hollow and untenable threat of a Saudi selloff of US assets and that it would somehow pose a serious risk to the US economy, only illustrates how politically motivated the FSIA statutory regime is.”
Saudis overstating extent of investment in US
“Moreover, Secretary of State Kerry’s expressed fears that exposing the KSA to the same standard of liability the USA has been only too happy to impose on Iran might somehow cause other nations to retaliate with their own FSIA styled legislation is truly bizarre in that his comment exposes just how unprecedented and improper the FSIA scheme is by international standards. Of course, all of this begs the question: Why have other nations not responded in kind with their own FSIA legislation? Obviously they know only too well how any move to do so would see the US and its Atlantic World allies threaten and black mail them into abandoning any such ideas,” Grossman said.
“In any case, the Saudis appear to be very much overstating the extent of their investment in the US in this ruse being orchestrated by the Obama administration and its special ally. The best available reports available suggest that all oil exporting nations together have only some $281 billion invested in US securities, including the Saudi Arabian holdings. It is in fact a relatively small player in US investments, For example, by way of comparison, Japan has $1.3 trillion invested in the US securities and China $1.25 trillion. It is patently absurd that the US could in any way feel threatened or at economic risk should such a selloff be implemented,” he pointed out.
“Indeed, one would expect that while it might, in the short term, put some downward pressure on US based equity markets, the operations of those companies which the Saudis are invested in would not be affected and the demand for dollars created by such a selloff, if anything, would put some small amount of upward pressure on the dollar rather than somehow collapsing it, while at the same time making available some good buys to domestic investors. If they want to divest, let them divest. The threat of divestment is certainly no reason to keep the 28 pages everyone is waiting to read classified,” he noted.
“That said, the real point in all of this is that the US political apparatus must scrap its unfair FSIA scheme which is both contrary to international convention and obscenely unfair to nations opposed to the US-dominated international system. If the Obama administration is going to provide cover for Saudi Arabia, then it must offer a similar accommodation to help Iran avoid the unprecedented judgments being imposed on it by a politically motivated US Federal Court system and FSIA,” the lawyer concluded.