Supreme Court Won't Hear Sept. 11 Claims Against Saudi Arabia

A lawsuit against Saudi Arabia filed by survivors and families members of those killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has ended as the Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear additional arguments from the victims who were trying to revive their case.

The case against Saudi Arabia and five of its princes was already tossed out by two lower courts. More than 6,000 people joined the suit, claiming the Saudis were directly responsible for allowing the flow of money to Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda that was necessary to bankroll the terror attacks.

The Obama Administration urged the Court not to take the case. Solicitor General Elena Kagan argued the lower courts were right in their assessment that federal law protects the Saudi government and its princes are immune from lawsuits.

Kagan further noted that "in light of the potentially significant foreign relations consequences" of disputes similar to this one, the Court had in the past ruled that these matters are best handled through diplomatic channels — not courtrooms.

The victims believe the Sept. 11 attacks were financed though a network of Saudi Arabian charities that were known to government officials. They sued under the terrorism provision of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which normally protects other governments from lawsuits.

The Saudis noted the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks concluded the Saudi government or its officers did not fund Al Qaeda or its attacks on the United States. They also argued the terrorism exception highlighted by the plaintiffs only exists when the nation in question is labeled a "state sponsor of terrorism." Saudi Arabia has not been given that designation and contend they are a strong ally of the United States.

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Comment by pjc on July 2, 2009 at 6:41pm
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