The Traditional Response to Murdering Lowlife Crooks
Imagine you are an American university professor teaching abroad, suddenly you are taken hostage by a foreign government’s terrorist proxies and held for months or years until finally you are rescued by an exchange of illegal weapons to the foreign government who attacked you. You go to the authorities who say with all the politeness in the world, “Gee that’s really too bad, but you can hire a law firm and go after the murderous lowlife crooks yourself.”
Now imagine you are a US soldier fighting for your country overseas when when suddenly the building you are standing in is blown to smithereens by a foreign government and carrying your dead buddy on your back you make your way over to your commanding officer who says, “This is really very unfortunate, but all we can do is hire a law firm to go after the murderous lowlife crooks ourselves.”
Now imagine you are a parent with a son or daughter studying abroad for the summer when the bus carrying your child is suddenly struck with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by a foreign government killing your child on the spot. You go to the embassy, your governor, your senator, but all they can say is, “We don’t have access to that level of classified information regarding the attack, but do hire a law firm and go after the murderous lowlife crooks yourself.”
Now imagine your husband or wife is fighting overseas when suddenly, a knock on the door reveals the devastating news that your loved one will never come home and they hand over a folded U.S. flag saying,“Hire a law firm to investigate which one or more foreign government(s) was responsible for the attack and if the president doesn’t cover up the evidence with the cooperation of the intel community, you can go after the murderous lowlife crooks yourself.”
Now imagine you are child with your parents fleeing your native country where the present dictator is murdering its own people. At last you arrive in the United States seeking asylum when a foreign national from your home country approaches one of your parents and injects them with air inducing a heart attack and death. The authorities in your new home advise, “When all your citizenship paperwork goes through, you can hire a law firm and go after the murderous lowlife crooks yourself.”
The Dangerous and Baffling Warfare of the Courthouse
Let’s say, you hire the private law firm and the firm miraculously obtains a judgement against the foreign government awarding you with financial compensation. Now begins the journey of finding assets belonging to the foreign government to claim in your government’s jurisdiction. You discover that the foreign government has assets frozen in your government’s jurisdiction from a previous regime. Your government has also been freezing additional assets of the new regime of the foreign government after they were caught as illegal transactions such as trafficking in aviation equipment, weapons, comms systems, night vision, and WMDs.
However, the foreign government has plenty of spending power to drag out your claim for 15 long years. During this time, it is able to shift ownership of properties in question to avoid paying your claim. Simultaneously, the foreign government invests in powerful lobbies and media exposure to influence policy and public opinion.
Bringing Victims of Terror and Corporations Together
Now your government with the backing of powerful corporations and the foreign government with the intimidation of powerful terrorists make a deal, only the agreement that is made introduces numerous stumbling blocks for the corporations and further demands the immediate release of a large some of the frozen assets in question to your government complies diminishing the amount of assets available to pay your claims.
As soon as the foreign government in question receives the funds it turns right around and files a claim against your government in an international court demanding even more money plus damages and expenses for having to litigate against your claim and the claims of other victims of terrorism. The foreign government spends the assets they recovered on funding further terrorist aggression against your government in foreign wars.
This is the travesty of history that has played out in the private lives of victims of terrorism, US military families, and Iranian expats living in the US and Europe. This history shows how litigation can be ineffective as domestic and international courts contemplate the legal limits of national sovereigns and the rights of citizens in an increasingly globalized world.
Tomorrow Archival on Demand will feature a new post discussing the history of sanctions and terrorism litigation against Iran!