The families of Americans killed in India by terrorists have received an unwelcome Christmas gift this holiday season from their own government’s State Department.
As you probably remember, on October 26, 2008, a group of armed terrorists boated to Mumbai, India. For three days various locations in Mumbai were attacked with guns and bombs. The terrorists killed at least 166 people, with many of the dead showing evidence of mutilation and torture. Six of those killed were Americans. These people have grieving family who want their day in court to get vindication against those who backed this terrorist plot.
The Indian government collected evidence against the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) as a sponsor of the terrorist group. I have no idea if this accusation can be proven in a US Court of law. Looking at news reports it seems like many people find the ISI connection highly plausible. In any case, relatives of the murdered Americans filed a wrongful death suit in New York Court two years ago against both the ISI and the terrorist group that is believed to be responsible. The ISI, they charged, had “”provided critical planning, material support, control and coordination for the attacks.”
Would they prove their case? They had the help of the Indian government’s investigation. But it now looks like they may never get to argue their case. Obama’s State Department has decided to intervene in the court case.
“Earlier this week the State Department announced that two former Pakistani intelligence directors, Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Taj, are immune from the wrongful death lawsuit the families filed against Lashkar and Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a federal court in New York. ‘In the view of the United States, the Inter-Services Intelligence is entitled to immunity because it is part of a foreign state within the meaning of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act,’ U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery wrote in an affidavit on Monday. The State Department also noted that the determination was ‘not subject to judicial review.’”
So basically, if an “allied” government is responsible for the murder of an American, the US government is there to protect them from any (even mild) accountability in a court of law.
It blows my mind that the executive branch can block justice so openly and not fear any backlash from the public. We are told in our civics textbooks that there is “a balance of powers.” It is not as if these people are demanding vigilante justice. They are appealing to a US court. The claim that they are making is basic common law: Our relative was wrongfully killed and you need to make restitution. It is an extremely weak form of action since it is merely a civil suit, not a criminal prosecution. But we are supposed to believe the executive branch can simply override this basic judicial process.
Worse, the State Department memo added another rationale:
“The affidavit goes on to suggest that any attempt by a US court to assert American jurisdiction over current or former Pakistani government officials would be a blatant ‘intrusion on [Pakistan’s] sovereignty, in violation of international law.’”
So the same executive branch that sends illegal predator drone attacks into the country virtually every week, is now pretending to care about the sovereignty of Pakistan? In fact, it is making this claim right when Americans are all lauding a movie that celebrates how the US didn’t worry at all about Pakistan’s sovereignty because it wanted to get Osama bin Laden.
But other people who have to deal with terrorist attacks just don’t count. This Administration is shameless.