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Context of 'November 1, 2002: 9/11 Victims’ Relatives Protest Against Opposition to Sue Saudis'

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Congress approves a $15 billion federal aid package for the battered US airline industry, and sets up a government fund to compensate 9/11 victims’ relatives. [Los Angeles Times, 9/22/2001] However, relatives are only allowed to sue US-designated terrorists, and if they sue anyone else, they are not entitled to any compensation money. The law also limits the airlines’ liability to the limits of their insurance coverage—around $1.5 billion per plane. [Los Angeles Times, 1/17/2002] Nevertheless, some later sue entities that make them ineligible for the fund, such as the Port Authority, owner of the WTC.

Entity Tags: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, US Congress

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Some of the 9/11 victims’ relatives hold a rally at the US Capitol to protest what they fear are plans by the Bush administration to delay or block their lawsuit against prominent Saudi individuals for an alleged role in financing al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 11/1/2002] US officials say they have not decided whether to submit a motion seeking to block or restrict the lawsuit, but they are concerned about the “diplomatic sensitivities” of the suit. Saudis have withdrawn hundreds of billions of dollars from the US in response to the suit. The Guardian previously reported that “some plaintiffs in the case say the Bush administration is pressuring them to pull out of the lawsuit in order to avoid damaging US-Saudi relations, threatening them with the prospect of being denied any money from the government’s own compensation scheme if they continue to pursue it. Bereaved relatives who apply to the federal compensation scheme must, in any case, sign away their rights to sue the government, air carriers in the US, and other domestic bodies—a condition that has prompted some of them to call the government compensation ‘hush money.’ The fund is expected, in the end, to pay out $4 billion. They remain, however, free to sue those they accuse of being directly responsible for the attacks, such as bin Laden, and—so they thought—the alleged financers of terrorism.” [Guardian, 9/20/2002]

Entity Tags: Bush administration (43), Al-Qaeda

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The deadline arrives for 9/11 victims’ relatives to apply for government compensation. [Toronto Star, 12/23/2003] By receiving an award from the fund, families give up their right to sue the airlines, airports, security companies, or other US organizations that may be faulted for negligence and inadequate security measures. [CBS News, 3/7/2002; USA Today, 7/13/2003; Washington Post, 9/10/2003] Relatives may still sue “knowing participants in the hijacking conspiracy” without losing compensation. [USA Today, 7/13/2003] Ninety-seven per cent of the 2,973 eligible families apply to the fund; compensation averages about $2.1 million per family. However, 70 families decide to forego the fund, and instead sue various government agencies and private companies for alleged negligence. [New York Times, 6/16/2004; Guardian, 6/16/2004] Widow Beverly Eckert explains her decision: “I am suing because unlike other investigative avenues… my lawsuit requires all testimony be given under oath and fully uses powers to compel evidence. The victims’ fund was not created in a spirit of compassion.… Lawmakers capped the liability of the airlines at the behest of lobbyists who descended on Washington while the September 11 fires still smoldered.” [USA Today, 12/19/2003]

Entity Tags: Beverly Eckert, Relatives of September 11 Victims

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

A report by the 9/11 Commission on the FAA and 9/11 is publicly released. The fact that the report reveals nearly half of all FAA daily briefings between April and early September 2001 mentioned al-Qaeda, bin Laden, or both causes headlines (see April 1, 2001-September 10, 2001). However, the report was actually completed in August 2004 but was held up by the Bush administration. Some speculate that the publication of the report was delayed until after the November 2004 presidential election to help Bush get reelected. For instance, 9/11 victim’s relative Carol Ashley states, “I’m just appalled that this was withheld for five months. That contributes to the idea that the government knew something and didn’t act, it contributes to the conspiracy theories out there.” Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) asks for a hearing on whether the Bush administration played politics with the report’s release, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives does not allow such a hearing. [Associated Press, 2/11/2005] Additionally, the released version of this report is heavily censored in some areas. The 9/11 Commission asserts that the whole report should be released, but the Bush administration is blocking their efforts to release the censored portions. Politicians, 9/11 victims’ relatives, open-government advocates, and others call for the release of the entire report, but to no avail. [New York Times, 2/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Bush administration (43), Osama bin Laden, Henry A. Waxman, 9/11 Commission, Al-Qaeda, Federal Aviation Administration

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Philip Zelikow (second from left) with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (left), and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (right).Philip Zelikow (second from left) with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (left), and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (right). [Source: Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Photos]Philip Zelikow, formerly the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, will serve as a senior adviser for Condoleezza Rice in her new position as secretary of state. His position, counselor of the United States Department of State, is considered equal to undersecretary of state. [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/28/2005] Rice says: “Philip and I have worked together for years. I value his counsel and expertise. I appreciate his willingness to take on this assignment.” According to author Philip Shenon, Zelikow tells his new colleagues at the State Department that it is “the sort of job he had always wanted.” [Shenon, 2008, pp. 418] 9/11 victims’ relatives groups had demanded Zelikow’s resignation from the 9/11 Commission, claiming conflict of interest, including being too close to Rice (see March 21, 2004).

Entity Tags: Philip Zelikow, Condoleezza Rice

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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