Saudi Lob­by­ists Re­cruit Vet­er­ans to Com­bat 9/11 Law Suit

Vet­er­ans told they’re shield­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary—in re­al­ity, they’re only pro­tect­ing the Saudi monar­chy

Trillions - - In this Issue - By Brian P. Mcglinchey

Us­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion and lots of cash, Saudi Ara­bia is re­cruit­ing well-mean­ing U.S. mil­i­tary vet­er­ans into its cam­paign to evis­cer­ate a re­cently-passed law al­low­ing 9/11 fam­i­lies to sue the monar­chy for its al­leged role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the at­tacks that killed nearly 3,000 peo­ple.

It’s a brazen ef­fort, con­sid­er­ing 9/11 in­spired so many vet­er­ans to en­ter mil­i­tary ser­vice. How­ever, work­ing through hired Amer­i­can prox­ies who don’t draw at­ten­tion to their Saudi spon­sor­ship, the king­dom is find­ing suc­cess by tak­ing ad­van­tage of vet­er­ans’ pa­tri­otic in­stincts.

Specif­i­cally, lob­by­ists are telling vet­er­ans that, if other coun­tries re­cip­ro­cate by pass­ing laws like the Jus­tice Against Spon­sors of Ter­ror­ism Act (JASTA), mil­i­tary ser­vice mem­bers and vet­er­ans will be sued in for­eign courts.

Vet­er­ans who do their own re­search will dis­cover an es­sen­tial fact Saudi Ara­bia doesn’t want them to know: JASTA only al­lows U.S. cit­i­zens to sue for­eign gov­ern­ments for sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism—not in­di­vid­u­als.

Saudi lob­by­ists also falsely claim that JASTA is a ma­jor de­par­ture from the pre­vi­ous U.S. ap­proach to sovereign im­mu­nity; in fact, it is a nar­row ad­just­ment to the For­eign Sovereign Im­mu­ni­ties Act, which al­ready al­lowed Amer­i­cans to sue for­eign state spon­sors of ter­ror.

Vet­er­ans En­ticed with Free Air­fare and Lux­ury Ho­tels

Mis­lead­ing ar­gu­ments aren’t the only weapon in the Saudi ar­se­nal—its lob­by­ists are also putting the king­dom’s deep pock­ets to work, re­port­edly en­tic­ing vet­er­ans to lobby leg­is­la­tors on the is­sue by pick­ing up the tab for air­fare and stays at lux­ury Wash­ing­ton ho­tels—specif­i­cally, the Trump In­ter­na­tional (a choice that raises thorny le­gal ques­tions for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion).

Com­bat vet­eran Malachias Gaskin told Daily Caller that he was so­licited via email to travel to Wash­ing­ton, and that his suitor was slow to re­veal what cause he was be­ing asked to join and who would be pay­ing for his trip. Af­ter be­ing asked to sign an on­line pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing JASTA, Gaskin re­searched the is­sue and con­cluded the law shouldn’t be amended or re­pealed. “I was like, ‘this is why they aren’t giv­ing me in­for­ma­tion,'” said Gaskin.

Daily Caller also re­ported that Daunt­less Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, sub-con­tracted by PR gi­ant Qorvis, op­er­ated a booth at a gun show in Reno, Nevada on Jan­uary 28 and 29. Be­neath a ban­ner ex­hort­ing passers-by to “pro­tect our troops from JASTA back­lash,” the hosts gath­ered names of vet­er­ans and oth­ers who would help op­pose JASTA. (Qorvis helps lead Saudi Ara­bia’s far-reach­ing pub­lic re­la­tions and lob­by­ing ef­fort.)

While some vet­er­ans are wing­ing their way to Wash­ing­ton and stay­ing at lux­ury ho­tels on the Saudi dime, oth­ers have been con­vinced to put their names on the by­lines of ANTI-JASTA opin­ion pieces. Judg­ing from iden­ti­cal lan­guage in these pieces, it seems likely they’re be­ing pre­pared by the lob­by­ists and then sub­mit­ted on the vet­er­ans’ be­half.

For ex­am­ple, re­tired Air Force gen­eral Wil­liam Rus­sel Cot­ney “wrote” this for Nashville’s The Ten­nessean:

“The prin­ci­ple known as sovereign im­mu­nity has gov­erned re­la­tions be­tween states for cen­turies. It holds that gov­ern­ments can­not be sued for civil wrongs with­out their con­sent. In in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, it pre­serves the right and re­spon­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ments to set­tle dis­putes with other gov­ern­ments on be­half of their cit­i­zens.”

…while for­mer Army med­i­cal spe­cial­ist An­gela Sinkovits “wrote” this for The Den­ver Post:

“The prin­ci­ple of sovereign im­mu­nity has gov­erned re­la­tions be­tween states for cen­turies. It holds that gov­ern­ments can­not be sued for civil wrongs with­out their con­sent. In in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, it pre­serves the right and re­spon­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ments to set­tle dis­putes with other gov­ern­ments on be­half of their cit­i­zens.”

Us­ing Vet­er­ans to Si­lence 9/11 Fam­i­lies

Given their high stand­ing in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, vet­er­ans are ex­tremely valu­able in shap­ing pub­lic opin­ion and in­flu­enc­ing leg­is­la­tors about a wide va­ri­ety of is­sues. What’s re­mark­able in this in­stance is the fact that a for­eign monar­chy, ac­cused of aid­ing the worst ter­ror­ist at­tack ever per­pe­trated on U.S. soil, is en­list­ing vet­er­ans to pre­vent the vic­tims of that at­tack from pre­sent­ing their ev­i­dence in a court of law.

That ev­i­dence in­cludes 28 pages from a con­gres­sional 9/11 in­quiry that were par­tially de­clas­si­fied in July 2016, re­veal­ing many fi­nan­cial and other con­nec­tions be­tween Saudi gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, 9/11 hi­jack­ers and their close as­so­ci­ates. The trail of clues points to high places: One of the of­fi­cials who fig­ures most heav­ily in the pages is the for­mer Saudi am­bas­sador to the United States, Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan. Al­le­ga­tions of Saudi ties to ter­ror don’t end with 9/11: Vet­er­ans of the war on ter­ror should also note that a leaked 2014 email from Hil­lary Clin­ton said the gov­ern­ment of Saudi Ara­bia was “pro­vid­ing clan­des­tine fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­tic sup­port to ISIL and other rad­i­cal Sunni groups.”

Fam­ily mem­bers of those killed in the 9/11 at­tacks have con­demned Saudi Ara­bia’s pur­suit of vet­er­ans. “We find the re­cently re­vealed ac­tions made on be­half of the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia to ‘co-opt our troops’… ab­so­lutely ap­palling,” said the Septem­ber 11th Ad­vo­cates, Kris­ten Bre­itweiser, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Klein­berg and Lorie Van Auken, in a state­ment.

Mccain and Gra­ham Aid the Saudi Cause

Per­haps one rea­son why Saudi Ara­bia’s fal­la­cious ar­gu­ments against JASTA have been suc­cess­ful with vet­er­ans is the fact that they’ve been em­braced by a va­ri­ety of cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cials who’ve rou­tinely pro­tected the king­dom, such as South Carolina Se­na­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham and Ari­zona’s John Mccain.

In De­cem­ber, Gra­ham and Mccain in­tro­duced a mea­sure that would amend JASTA and make it far harder for 9/11 fam­i­lies to pur­sue jus­tice in the court­room.

Gra­ham once said he would hes­i­tate to de­clas­sify those 28 pages on Saudi gov­ern­ment links to the 9/11 at­tacks if do­ing so could “dam­age” the king­dom. Mean­while, the Saudis ap­pear to be very grate­ful for Mccain’s on­go­ing sup­port: In 2014, the Saudi em­bassy do­nated $1 mil­lion to the The Mccain In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Lead­er­ship.

Gra­ham and Mccain have been among Capi­tol Hill’s chief alarmists about al­leged Rus­sian in­flu­ence on the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Seiz­ing on that, and well aware of the duo’s ANTI-JASTA stance, the Septem­ber 11th Ad­vo­cates used their state­ment to de­mand equal scru­tiny of Saudi in­flu­ence on U.S. law:

“We call upon the lead­ing voices in Congress who have spo­ken out re­gard­ing the dan­gers of for­eign in­ter­ven­tion (in U.S. pol­i­tics)—se­na­tor John McCain and Se­na­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham—to ad­dress these facts that have now come to light re­gard­ing the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia and its ac­tions to ma­nip­u­late and use mem­bers of our armed forces against 9/11 fam­ily mem­bers and JASTA.”

Ed­i­tor's Note: Above, Ge­orge W. Bush meet­ing with Saudi Ara­bian Am­bas­sador Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan at the Bush Ranch in Craw­ford, Texas in 2002. This meet­ing took place af­ter the at­tacks of 9/11 when it was known that Saudi Ara­bia sup­ported the...

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