Response on Behalf of 9/11 Families and Victims to the European Union’s Letter of Concern Regarding JASTA

Yesterday afternoon, reports surfaced that the European Union presented a letter to the State Department expressing concerns about the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a measure unanimously passed by both chambers of Congress earlier this year after nearly seven years of careful deliberation and refinement. The letter, which was somehow obtained and distributed to the media by public relations agents working for the Saudi government, expresses the European Union’s understanding that JASTA “would be in conflict with fundamental principles of international law and in particular the principle of State sovereign immunity.”

The letter provides no explanation of the basis for this claim, which is plainly mistaken. The absence of any rationale based on the text or scope of JASTA indicates that our European friends are responding to the alarmist and inaccurate portrayals of JASTA that have been loudly promoted by its opponents, rather than to the bill itself, which is deeply rooted in international legal norms that are actually embraced by virtually all European Union member States themselves.

For many decades, the overwhelming majority of European Union member States have embraced the “restrictive theory” of sovereign immunity, under which States are subject to suit in the courts of another country in a variety of circumstances when they cause harm there. Under the restrictive theory, the world long ago abandoned the outdated and unjust notions of absolute immunity predicated on the idea that “the King can do no wrong,” instead embracing the view that states should be accountable for harm they cause in another jurisdiction in many circumstances.

The nations of Europe in fact took the lead in moving the world towards the restrictive theory, and it has long been the international norm. See Tex. Trading & Milling Corp. v. Fed. Republic of Nigeria, 647 F.2d 300, 310 (2d Cir. 1981) (“At this point, there can be little doubt that international law follows the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity (citing UK and European practice in particular); Doe v. Fed. Democratic Republic of Eth., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67909, *44 (D.D.C. May 24, 2016) (“As explained during the hearings on the [Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in 1976], ‘almost all countries in Western Europe [had come to] follow[] the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity”).

Consistent with this restrictive theory of foreign sovereign immunity, almost all European nations recognize an exception to foreign sovereign immunity for tort claims involving injuries occurring in their countries, in one form or another. For example, the 1976 European Convention on State Immunity includes such a tort exception, and the state parties to that Convention include Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has separately enacted its own statutory immunity law, which also includes a broad tort exception to foreign sovereign immunity. Further, the United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property of 2004 also includes a tort exception to foreign sovereign immunity that embraces a broad formulation of doctrines of attribution, and nations within and outside Europe are signatories to that document. (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK/Ireland). Several European states that do not have their own statutes and are not parties to any international convention on the issue embrace the restrictive theory as a matter of civil or common law.

When the United States codified the restrictive theory of foreign sovereign immunity in 1976 through the passage of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), it too embraced an exception for tort claims arising from “personal injury or death, or damage to or loss of property, occurring in the United States and caused by the tortious act or omission of [a] foreign state.” 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(5).

For many decades following its enactment, this provision was consistently understood to withdraw foreign sovereign immunity in cases in which a foreign state aided from abroad a terrorist act on U.S. soil. Indeed, as recently as 2004, the U.S. Justice and State Departments jointly argued to a federal appeals court that this existing tort exception would apply to tort claims “in cases of terrorism on U.S. territory, such as the September 11th attacks.” No European nation suffered harm or any adverse impact on its interests from these longstanding interpretations of the U.S. tort exception, which prevailed for over 30 years.

JASTA itself is nothing more than a very specialized tort exception, applicable in very narrow circumstances to a particularly heinous subset of tortious conduct – namely, the knowing sponsorship of terrorism. It is a modest measure restoring the longstanding interpretations of the tort exception for terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, deeply rooted in the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity embraced by virtually all European Union member States.

Consistent with international practice, JASTA requires a very direct nexus between the terrorist tort of a foreign state and the resulting harm within the United States. It requires not only that the claims be based on an act of international terrorism occurring in the United States and involving a physical injury in the United States, but also expressly requires that that physical injury be “caused by” the terrorist tort of the foreign state itself.

JASTA’s immunity exception is, moreover, expressly unavailable for any claim of negligence, and its substantive cause of action applies only to the knowing provision of substantial assistance to a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. That list includes only the most notorious terrorist organizations, and our European allies do not knowingly aid them for any reason.

Additional limitations in JASTA further demonstrate Congress’ painstaking efforts to embed key international norms into the bill and to eliminate any unintended consequences.

For instance, JASTA is expressly inapplicable to any “act of war” as already defined under U.S. law, a limitation that precludes JASTA’s invocation in regards to military activities of a foreign state. This express limitation directly incorporates the traditional international norm under which military activities of foreign sovereigns are excluded from the tort exception to sovereign immunity. Members of the European Union have actually challenged this exclusion in the past, urging that it should not apply to jus cogens violations, but the U.S. Congress has expressly declined to do so in JASTA, thus reaffirming as a matter of U.S. statutory law an important international norm that has been called into question by legal claims advanced by European Union member States.

The European Union member States should also take comfort in the fact that JASTA retains the expansive immunity individual foreign officials and diplomats enjoy from being sued in the United States. Under U.S. law, the immunity of individual foreign officials is governed by common law principles (not the FSIA), which provide foreign officials near absolute immunity from suit in U.S. courts unless the State Department – which has the final say – rules otherwise. JASTA does not disturb these expansive immunities at all. Foreign diplomats and consular officials, meanwhile, enjoy all of the additional immunities afforded them under the Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which the United States and 189 other nations are signatories.

Finally, JASTA is consistent in all respects with the principles and values set forth in the European Union’s Charter, which affirms the right to life, liberty and security, that those who are wronged are entitled to “an effective remedy before a tribunal,” and that “[e]veryone is equal before the law.”

For these and many other reasons, our European Union allies have no reason whatsoever to be apprehensive about JASTA. Quite to the contrary, they should be encouraged that its enactment will help make Europe safer from the terrible terrorist threats that have so tragically materialized in London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and so many other cities in Europe.

Indeed, as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken attested in a recent affidavit filed in a U.S. court, “imposing civil liability on those who commit or sponsor acts of terrorism is an important means of deterring and defeating terrorist activities,” and thus serves our shared “compelling interest in combatting and deterring terrorism at every level.”

JASTA advances those global security interests, through a narrowly tailored immunity exception that aligns with international norms and practice.

9/11 FAMILIES AND SURVIVORS THANK SENATORS BLUMENTHAL AND MCCONNELL FOLLOWING PROTEST

McConnell pledges Senate will stay in session to block anticipated Presidential veto of JASTA

Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2016 – Dozens of 9/11 family members and survivors protested outside the White House yesterday, calling for President Obama to sign the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a bill that he has threatened to veto. Following the protest, the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism held a press conference on the Senate lawn, with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

At the press conference Terry Strada, National Chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism outlined the reasons why the White House’s arguments against JASTA are misplaced. Her husband Tom Strada was in the World Trade Center and died in the attacks. Terry’s daughter, Kaitlyn Strada also spoke on behalf of the 9/11 Children for Justice. On behalf of all of the protesters and the entire 9/11 community, they urged Congress to stay in session to override a veto.

Immediately following the press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the Senate will override JASTA before recessing for the upcoming elections.

“The 9/11 Families and Survivors extend our deepest thanks to Senators Blumenthal, McConnell and the several others who have been steadfast supporters of JASTA, standing behind us every step of the way and fighting for what’s right and just for all victims of terrorism,” said Terry Strada. “They refuse to be persuaded by Saudi lobbyists unlike some of their fellow colleagues. While we anticipate the President to veto JASTA by Friday, I am confident the majority of Congress will stand with Americans and will not let us down. Fifteen years has passed without answers or accountability for the most horrific attack on America—we are angry, frustrated and tired. As my late husband and daughter say, it is time to do the right thing.”

JASTA unanimously passed both the Senate (May 17, 2016) and House (Sept. 9, 2016), but is threatened by a potential veto by President Obama. The legislation would allow victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil to seek accountability against foreign states in U.S. courts, essentially the same way they could if the foreign state had caused injury in a car wreck.

The President has the bill for consideration and has until Friday, Sept. 23 to sign or veto the legislation. The 9/11 Families and Survivors urge Congress to stay in session to prevent a pocket veto, and call on their support to override the anticipated veto.

Watch the JASTA Press Conference

9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism consists of thousands of family members and survivors, seeking the truth, accountability and justice against all perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against our nation. PassJASTA.org.

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Response on Behalf of 9/11 Families and Victims to Letter in Opposition to JASTA by Certain Former Officials

The letter issued this evening by certain opponents of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) raises the same alarmist and inaccurate arguments that many of the same people have raised previously, and that Senators and Representatives carefully considered and rejected in passing JASTA unanimously earlier this year.  Those arguments were unanimously rejected because they deeply and demonstrably mischaracterize existing law and JASTA’s scope and effect, and are entirely subjective (as the authors themselves concede).

We remain dismayed that the Obama Administration, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its protectors have spent much of this year trying to deceive Congress and the public into believing that JASTA works dramatic changes to the law, when in fact it is narrowly tailored and largely restores the law that has existed for decades.  Nor was Congress persuaded by the purported threats to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, because Congress understood that any relationship requires accountability and honesty, which is all JASTA requires.  Just as Congress dismissed the Administration’s fearmongering in passing JASTA the first time, we are confident that it will do so again if it becomes necessary to override an Obama veto.

The letter’s authors’ claim that JASTA would “completely undercut sovereign immunity protections upon which the United States and all sovereign nations have relied for centuries” plainly misrepresents the current state of U.S. law and international norms concerning sovereign immunity protections.  In fact, for nearly 70 years, the United States has adhered to the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity, under which foreign states are regularly subject to the jurisdiction of another country’s courts for harm they cause in that country.  This restrictive theory of immunity is the norm in international practice.

Congress codified this approach in 1976 through the enactment of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which sets forth a range of exceptions to sovereign immunity under which foreign states are subject to suit in the United States.  This includes an exception to immunity for tort claims involving injuries occurring in the United States.   For nearly four decades following the FSIA’s enactment, that exception was understood to apply to claims that a foreign state provided support from abroad for a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, as reflected by the decisions allowing claims against Chile to proceed for its role in facilitating from abroad the assassination Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C., and against China for abetting from overseas the murder of dissident Henry Liu in California.

In fact, in 2004 the Departments of Justice and State of the Bush Administration, in which several of the letters’ authors served, filed a formal amicus brief in the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia asserting that this existing immunity exception for tort claims would apply “in cases of terrorism on U.S. territory, such as the September 11th attacks.”  JASTA merely restores that precise interpretation of our immunity statute.

As recently as 2011, the federal appeals court in New York reaffirmed that view, ruling that claims of a 9/11 victim against Afghanistan – a country that has never been designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism – could proceed.   In other words, claims are proceeding under current law, and have been for four years, against an ally of the United States for the events of 9/11.

No floodgate of retaliatory litigation against the United States followed from these longstanding rulings, and if the risk were at all real, the Bush Administration most obviously would not have advocated in 2004 that foreign governments do not enjoy sovereign immunity under existing law for terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, citing 9/11 specifically.

The letter’s authors do not even attempt to grapple with these points.

Their claim that JASTA’s passage would potentially subject our troops, diplomats and government personnel to suits in foreign courts also rests on demonstrably untrue characterizations of JASTA’s scope and effect.  In reality, JASTA has absolutely nothing to do with the immunities and protections that individual diplomats and government officials and employees enjoy from suit.  Instead, as the Supreme Court unanimously confirmed in Youseff v. Samantar, the immunities available to individual foreign officials flow from the common law, and JASTA does nothing to disturb those protections at all.  It concerns only the immunities of foreign governments.

The authors’ claim about potential suits against diplomats is utterly unsupportable.  As the authors surely know, or should, the immunities of diplomats and consular officials are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity, a treaty to which 190 nations are signatories and obligated to comply.  A foreign government could not authorize a suit against a U.S. diplomat in retaliation to JASTA without violating its treaty obligations to nearly 200 other nations.  It simply can’t happen.

The authors also are wrong when they claim that JASTA would encourage the trial bar “to extract settlements from foreign nations based on the possible disclosure of otherwise secret diplomatic and national security communications.  This is simply not true.  As the Supreme Court affirmed recently in a unanimous decision, “settled doctrines of privilege” and principles of international comity protect foreign states from inappropriate incursions into their governmental documents in U.S. litigation proceedings.  Consistent with those protections and the legislative history of the FSIA itself, the courts have long recognized that “sensitive governmental documents of a foreign state” are protected from disclosure by governmental privilege rules.  EM Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina, 695 F.3d 201, 210 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 94-1487, at 23) (“The [FSIA] does not attempt to deal with questions of discovery. Existing law appears to be adequate in this area. . . . [If] a private plaintiff sought the production of sensitive governmental documents of a foreign state, concepts of governmental privilege would apply.”).   JASTA does not change these firmly established rules, and thus could not expose foreign governments to potential exposure of state secrets.  There is nothing to this argument.

The fearmongering based on the claim that JASTA will lead to suits against the United State abroad also ignores the fact that the U.S. is routinely subject to suit in foreign courts already.  In fact, there is an entire division within the Department of Justice known as the Office of Foreign Litigation that is dedicated solely to representing the interests of the United States in lawsuits in foreign courts.  According to the office’s website, the cases against the United States vary from employment disputes brought by foreign nationals working in U.S. embassies, consulates, and military bases abroad to litigation arising from U.S. agency or military activities in foreign countries.”  Further, “[a]t any given time, foreign lawyers under OFL’s direct supervision represent the United States in approximately 1,000 lawsuits pending in the courts of over 100 countries.”  As these facts reflect, the United States already is subject to suits in foreign jurisdictions for our activities abroad, as a result of the wide range of the United States government’s international activities and broad acceptance of the restrictive theory of sovereign immunity in international practice.  JASTA itself is entirely consistent with the restrictive theory, as it provides an immunity exception for a specific type of tort, which is limited to physical injury in the U.S. and expressly excludes claims arising from any military activities.

Finally, the opponents’ letter fails to acknowledge JASTA’s incredibly narrow scope.  It applies only to acts of terrorism occurring on U.S. soil and causing physical harm here, cannot be invoked as to a foreign government’s military activities, and does not apply to any claims of alleged negligence.  Given these limitations, replication of JASTA by other states will not imperil U.S. interests, as we do not knowingly aid and abet designated terrorist organizations.

These limitations also confirm the utter irresponsibility of the authors’ claim that JASTA would potentially “expose European states, for the first time, to treble-damage terrorism class-action lawsuits in U.S. courts.”  Although the authors make no attempt to explain what the basis for such claims might be, the fact of the matter is that our European partners and allies could not possibly be subject to a suit under JASTA.  It requires the knowing aiding and abetting of a designated foreign terrorist organization, something our European allies do not do.  (JASTA also does not authorize treble damage lawsuits against foreign states under any circumstances, a fact that further underscores the authors’ lack of care and candor in presenting their arguments).

It is increasingly apparent that these false “reciprocity” arguments reflect nothing more than a desire to protect the Saudis from having to answer the legitimate claims of the 9/11 families whose loved ones were murdered on September 11, 2001.

Sincerely,
Jack Quinn
Sean Carter
Counsel for the 9/11 Families and Victims

9/11 FAMILIES & SURVIVORS PROTEST OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE AND HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE OUTSIDE SENATE DENOUNCING ANTICIPATED VETO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420

Will implore President Obama to sign anti-terror sponsorship bill,
Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, S.2040

Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2016  – In response to signals from the White House that President Obama plans to veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), 9/11 families and survivors will protest outside the White House and move to outside the Senate for a press conference tomorrow, once again voicing their support of this legislation that would allow them to seek accountability in U.S. Courts for the 9/11 attacks, as well as allow other victims of terror attacks in the U.S. to also seek accountability.

JASTA unanimously passed both the Senate (May 17, 2016) and House (Sept. 9, 2016), but is threatened by a potential veto by President Obama. Fifteen years is already far too long to be asked to wait for accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered in the 9/11 attacks. Where Congress spoke so resoundingly in favor of JASTA, neither the President nor an army of Saudi lobbyists should prevent it.

 WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m.
 WHERE: Lafayette Park in front of the White House

The group will move to the “Senate Swamp,” located on the grass across the drive from the east Senate steps for a press conference with Senator Blumenthal, other members of Congress, along with 9/11 family members and survivors.

 WHO: 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism consists of thousands of family members and survivors, seeking the truth, accountability and justice against all perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against our nation

Rally speakers include:           

  • Terry Strada, National Chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism and widow of Tom Strada, killed at the World Trade Center
  • Kaitlyn Strada, Daughter of Tom Strada, who will speak on behalf of the 9/11 Children for Justice
  • Other 9/11 Family Members & Survivors

9/11 Families Outraged at Report that Two Republican Senators will seek Delay of Veto Override of Anti-Terror Sponsorship Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420; David White: (202) 607-0766

9/11 Families and Survivors irate at effort to delay enactment of Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, S.2040

Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2016  – Reports by Bloomberg and the New York Times that two leading Republican voices on national security – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (TN) and Lindsey Graham (SC) – are trying to delay a vote to override the president’s anticipated veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) have 9/11 families and survivors outraged.

JASTA would allow victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil to seek accountability against foreign states in U.S. courts, essentially the same way they could if the foreign state had caused injury in a car wreck.  After more than six years of consideration in Congress, and several holds on the bill earlier this year – in part to address inquiries to the ultimate satisfaction of Senators Corker and Graham – the Senate passed the bill unanimously in May and the House did so unanimously last week on Sept. 9, 2016.  But the president has vowed to veto the bill, premised publicly on two unfounded rationales.  The Democratic White House’s rationales, presumably along with reported heavy pressure from high-priced Saudi lobbyist, seem to have given the two Republican senators unnecessary pause.

The White House has said JASTA would cause U.S. diplomats and citizens to be at risk from reciprocal legislation or lawsuits overseas.  But JASTA does not – and cannot – have anything to do with suing diplomats.  That issue is controlled by a 55-year-old treaty – the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – to which the U.S. and 190 other nations are signatories, including nearly every U.N. member state.  And JASTA has nothing to do with whether a private citizen can be sued for alleged wrongdoing; it deals with immunity of foreign states.  With or without JASTA, if a U.S. citizen causes wrongful injury in another country, local law can authorize suit against that U.S. citizen.

In statements from Senator Corker and Senator Graham, they have expressed similarly misplaced concerns that reciprocal legislation may put the U.S. at risk, for example, due to drone strikes against terrorist and other enemy targets.  But the narrow text of JASTA, like our legal history, specifically distinguishes between acts of war and acts of terrorism. Moreover, JASTA requires that the terrorist attack at issue to have been done by a terror organization formally designated under U.S. law.  Because the U.S. does not outsource our drone strikes to designated terrorist organizations, reciprocal legislation would not threaten us.  By equating what we do to protect ourselves from terrorism with what others do in support of terrorism, the senators misread the narrow text of JASTA and disparage U.S. policy.

The White House’s second rationale for opposing JASTA is because, it says, JASTA allows judges to designate foreign states as terror sponsors outside of the formal U.S. process for imposing U.S. sanctions.  But JASTA has nothing to do with designating nations as terror sponsors or imposing sanctions.  Like in any car wreck case where a foreign state bears responsibility, JASTA allows victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil to seek accountability in a U.S. court.  For forty years, U.S. sovereign immunity laws have allowed suits against sovereigns for death or injury, not just for car wrecks but also for terrorist attacks.  That is why, as recently as 2004, in a brief to the Supreme Court, the U.S. government expressed the view that U.S. sovereign immunity law authorizes suits in terrorism cases like 9/11.  Neither the preexisting law nor the government’s earlier position ever caused a flood of retaliatory legislation or litigation.

Because no rationale for vetoing JASTA withstands scrutiny, the bill should be enacted without any delay – including the delays suggested by Senators Corker and Graham.  The horrific events of the 9/11 attacks took place over fifteen years ago.  JASTA has been under Congressional scrutiny for nearly half of that time (it was first introduced in 2009 – with Senator Graham as a co-sponsor at each introduction). Both Senators Corker and Graham studied the bill earlier this year – delaying its Senate passage – and made changes to the bill’s text for many of the same concerns they are now raising.  If they had lingering concerns at that time, they never voiced them when the Senate unanimously passed the bill.  Not until the Saudi lobbyists came knocking.  But after years of consideration and careful scrutiny (including by both of these senators), both chambers of Congress fully vetted and unanimously agreed that JASTA is good policy.  Where Congress spoke so resoundingly in favor of JASTA, neither one president, two senators, nor an army of Saudi lobbyists should prevent it.

Fifteen years is already far too long to be asked to wait for accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered in the 9/11 attacks.  The delays attributed to Senators Corker and Graham, trying to push off consideration of a veto override for several months until after their election campaigns, asks far more than the families and survivors should ever be asked to accept.  The pledge of the Democratic president to veto JASTA was already more than enough insult.  But two Republican senators’ eleventh hour suggestion to delay a vote to ultimately enact JASTA is simply outrageous.

9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism consists of thousands of family members and survivors, seeking the truth, accountability and justice against all perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack against our nation. PassJASTA.org

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Blumenthal, DeLauro, 9/11 Families Call on President to Sign Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act

Congress Approved Blumenthal-Backed Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, But President Obama May Veto

Bill Would Allow Victims of Terrorism and Their Families to Seek Justice Against Foreign Actors Who Enable Violent Extremism

(Hartford, CT) – At 9 a.m. on Monday, September 12 on the steps of the U.S. District Court in New Haven, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) will join families of 9/11 victims in calling on President Obama to sign the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

The House of Representatives today voted to approve the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act to allow victims of terrorism and their families to sue foreign actors that sponsor or support violent extremism. Blumenthal helped to lead the measure in the Senate, which passed the measure unanimously in May. President Obama has now indicated he may veto the measure. Blumenthal sent a letter today to the President urging him to sign the bill without delay.

“This bill closes a loophole that denies a fair day in court to American victims of some of the most heinous terrorist attacks in our history. I urge you to sign this bill without delay,” Blumenthal states in his letter.

UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF SENATORS JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) & CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) S.2040, THE JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT – “JASTA” IS VOTED OUT OF COMMITTEE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420; David White: (202) 607-0766

 9/11 Victims’ Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism Applaud Senators John Cornyn’s and Chuck Schumer’s 19-0 vote in favor of JASTA

Legislation Ensures Justice Against Those Who Aid Terrorism and Deters Future Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2016 – S.2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (“JASTA”) passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee today with a 19-0 vote in favor of moving JASTA out of committee.  Senators urged Congress to act swiftly and to move the bill through both chambers of Congress.

Lead sponsor Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) pointed out that the families have suffered long enough and stated, “It is time to see JASTA passed and moved to the President’s desk for signature.”  Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) opening remarks reflected his longtime support of the 9/11 victims’ families and survivors quest for justice and thanked his fellow members for their support of JASTA.

Several Senators, including Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) went on record stating the need for this legislation. The ranking member, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), also a long time supporter of the 9/11 victims’ families and survivors, hopes to see JASTA pass in the Senate and move over to the House in a timely manner.

An amendment was introduced into the record supporting changes to the original language reflecting input by Republican leadership in the House. The counterpart to S.2040 is H.R 3815 in the House and is being championed by lead sponsor Rep. Peter King (R-NY, 2nd district) along with Jerold Nadler (D-NY, 10th district).

JASTA reaffirms the original intent of the “Anti-terrorism Act of 2001” (ATA) to hold accountable in U.S. courts those who provide material support toward terrorist attacks against Americans on American soil. In particular, it ensures that those who provided material support for the nineteen hijackers who carried out the worst terrorist attack on American soil can be held accountable in a U.S. court.

Marge Mathers, a 74 year-old widow from Texas who is seeking justice for the murder of her husband Charles Mathers in the brutal attacks of 9/11, attended the committee meeting and said, “While nothing will ever completely heal the pain of losing my husband in such a horrific way, I am thankful we have dedicated lawmakers such as Senator John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer who are leading the charge in D.C. for the prompt passage of JASTA. No family should ever have to suffer at the hands of terrorism and JASTA will certainly play an important role in deterring future attacks against our country.”

“The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act will create a path to justice for all the 9/11 victims’ families and survivors” said Terry Strada, National Chair of the 9/11 Victims’ Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism. Ms. Strada lost her husband, Tom Strada in the North Tower at the WTC. She also attended the committee meeting and added, “I remain dedicated to working with members of Congress for the swift passage of JASTA. It was an honor to witness the committee doing such great work in voting 19-0 in favor of JASTA. Listening to the Senators go on record for their strong support of JASTA and hearing the last aye spoken brought tears to my eyes. The justice we have been seeking for fourteen years will finally come closer to being a reality when JASTA is enacted into law.”

SENATORS JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) & CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) INTRODUCE JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT – S.2040 – JASTA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420; David White: (202) 607-0766

9/11 Victims’ Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism Applaud Senators John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer’s Efforts to Guarantee a Path Toward Justice

Legislation Targets Those Who Aid in Terrorism Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 2015 – The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act S.2040 (“JASTA”) was introduced in the Senate on September 16, 2015 with 18 bipartisan cosponsors under the leadership of Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

JASTA ensures that those who provide the financing and support to terrorists who carry out attacks on U.S. soil, such as the nineteen al Qaeda hijackers and plotters behind September 11, are held accountable in U.S. courts.

By holding financiers accountable, JASTA also will deter other terrorist supporters from contributing to terrorist organizations. Depriving terrorist organizations of such sources of funding would materially degrade their ability to carry out terrorist attacks against Americans here in the homeland and abroad.

Marge Mathers, a 74 year-old widow from Texas who is seeking justice for the murder of her husband Charles Mathers said, “Thank God we have dedicated lawmakers such as Senator John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer who are leading the charge in D.C. for the passage of JASTA. While the terrorists who committed the cowardly act of murdering my husband died with the victims on that horrible day, the people who gave logistical and financial support to the nineteen terrorists have never been brought to justice. JASTA will lead us to our day in court.”

“The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act will allow victims’ of terrorism to seek justice – one of our most cherished American values” said Terry Strada of New Jersey, who lost her husband, Tom Strada in the North Tower at the WTC. “My commitment, dedication and conviction for justice has never been stronger. Fourteen years is a long time to wait for justice and JASTA will help us accomplish our goal of holding the bankrollers of 9/11 accountable in a U.S. court.”