July 31, 2008
State Department's embrace of Libya has precedent for Cuba, other countries
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC - In a brazen disregard for the precedent of international law, the U.S. State Department has submitted a legislative proposal to Congress to partially "resolve" claims by terrorism victims against Libya with no acknowledgment of responsibility and dismissing the claims of a vast number of plaintiffs with legal standing in U.S. courts. The unvetted proposal that passed the U.S. Senate today and is now in the U.S. House of Representatives settles some of the U.S. residents' claims, throws out the claims of non-U.S. residents (who have standing under the Alien Tort Statute), and then completely immunizes Libya against existing and future lawsuits, attachments, and liens. It even goes so far as to ensure that Libya, under law, is treated like any other state that never practiced terrorism.
Such a proposal, if enacted, would set precedent for future State Department proposals to immunize any government now on the "state sponsors" list especially Cuba, but also Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea, against similar actions brought by victims of their state-sponsored terrorism, whether residing in the U.S. or overseas. If passed, this will be the first time that Congress has created a law to aid a state sponsor of terrorism by immunizing them from litigation - all done without any debate in secret back-room deals. This bill undermines the very laws Congress enacted to provide victims with redress through the U.S. Court system.
This precedent setting legislation calls for a public debate on the bill's impacts - in an open forum with public input and open press scrutiny. All interested parties should call or email their U.S. Representative today and say no immunity for Libya without an open discussion.