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                                                          From the desk of: Debra J.M. Smith 

                  Alert: Saudi Prince Lawyer in 9/11 Lawsuit Nominated to Run Justice Department
The Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing's TODAY, Tuesday, June 15, 2010 

The following information needs to be taken very seriously. Beverly Burnett, mother of Flight 93 Hero, Tom Burnett sent this to me yesterday. It was written by the co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America. And it needs to go all over the net, in just hours. This hearing is taking place today. Phone calls need to be made quickly.

Dear 9/11 Families and Friends:


President Obama has nominated James Cole to be the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) at the the Department of Justice. This is a critically important position.  While Attorney General Eric Holder is the nominal head of the Justice Department, it is the deputy attorney general who actually runs the day-to-day operations of the entire department.  For instance, it was Mr. Holder who, as DAG during the Clinton administration, orchestrated the Sept. 1999 clemencies of 16 terrorists belonging to the FALN, a Puerto Rican separatist group that carried out 146 bombings which killed 9 people and maimed NYPD bomb squad officers.  Mr. Holder also facilitated and pushed through the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, who made billions of dollars engaging in illegal oil trades on behalf of Iranian ayatollahs.  Today, the DAG has a pivotal role in formulating and executing decisions dealing with the policy issues surrounding the capture, detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected Islamic terrorists. 


So who is James Cole?  As a partner at the law firm of Bryan Cave, he represented Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,  a member of the Saudi royal family and one of the defendants in the 9/11 lawsuit filed on behalf of 9/11 Families against the government of Saudi Arabia and other Saudi individuals by the law firm of Motley Rice.  Prince Naif ran the Al Haramain Foundation, a Saudi charity designated in 2004 by the U.S. Treasury Department as a facilitator of terrorism which diverted charitable funds to Al Qaeda both before and after Sept.11, 2001.  


Additionally, in 2006, Mr. Cole was also appointed as an independent overseer of insurance giant AIG.  The whistleblower non-profit, Government Accountability Project, has come out against his nomination due to the gross irregularities that happened while he was charged with oversight responsibilities prior to its 2008 collapse. See http://www.whistleblower.org/blog/31-2010/529-aig-monitor-james-cole-wrong-choice-for-deputy-attorney-general


In light of this history, it is impossible to fathom how Mr. Cole can ethically carry out his duties and responsibilities as the de facto head of the Justice Department while U.S. troops are fighting terrorists who receive funding and support from organizations associated with the Saudi government and their proxies.  This is a direct conflict of interest.  Given Saudi NGOs' continued involvement in terrorist facilitation world-wide and their connection to the Saudi royal family, this conflict of interest will cripple Mr. Cole's ability to ethically perform his duties as head of a department charged with investigating and prosecuting terrorist facilitators associated with or working for the Saudi government.  


Below is an op-ed published by Mr. Cole just two days before the first anniversary of 9/11, in which he compares 9/11 to drug crimes, ordinary murder, rape and mafia-type crimes, saying that the "war on drugs" is actually  "a longer term and far more devastating disaster for our country in terms of the number of people affected..."  Ironically, Mr. Cole says that the only factor which distinguishes those crimes and the "tragedies of Sept. 11" is that "foreign organizations, possibly even foreign governments, were involved in the planning, funding and carrying out of the Sept. 11 attacks." 


Further, Mr. Cole has gone on record opposing military commissions for any detainees, stating that military commissions are an inferior form of justice which do not provide defendants with adequate due process protections.  In light of the fact that the Obama administration continues to drag its feet on an announcement regarding the forum and venue for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other admitted 9/11 conspirators, Mr. Cole's nomination is an alarming signal.  The public is overwhelmingly opposed to holding these trials in New York federal court.  Clearly, the administration needs to hear from us again.


Mr. Cole is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, June 15.  The hearing, calendared so quickly after the announcement of Mr. Cole's nomination, appears calculated to capitalize on the media's attention on the oil spill crisis in the Gulf, and to limit our ability to mount public objection. 


I urge all 9/11 family members and friends who were disappointed that the administration opposed the 9/11 Families' opportunity to have their day in court in the Saudi lawsuit, to contact the President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and members of Congress, and express your adamant objection to Mr. Cole's nomination to Deputy Attorney General. 


Debra Burlingame Co-founder,
9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America


See the 9/11 Families Legal Complaint: http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/1239.pdf


Contact info:


President Barack Obama

Comments: 202.456.1111

Switchboard: 202.456.1414

FAX: 202-456-2461   

Email: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact1600

1600  Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500


Attorney General Eric Holder

Dept. of Justice Main Switchboad: 202.514.2000

Office of the Attorney General: 202.353.1555

Emails to the AG: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001


Members of Congress

For contact info, insert your zipcode at: http://www.congress.org



Hearing Info:

Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee


DATE: June 15, 2010
TIME: 10:00 AM
ROOM: Dirksen-226


James Cole Commentary
Legal Times
Copyright 2002 American Lawyer Media, ALM LLC
September 9, 2002
Volume 25; Issue 35
Section: Points of View; Commentary and Analysis
James M. Cole
Attorney General John Ashcroft has a tough job on his hands. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, he is confronted with one of the most extreme threats to domestic safety in our country's history. He not only has to lead the fight to apprehend those who have committed those crimes, but also has to prevent such acts from occurring again.
A Prosecutor Must Protect Rights of All
The attorney general, as lead prosecutor for the United States, has taken on that job with zeal. He has assumed the role of the chief advocate for the country and has tried to press every advantage he can. Among other actions, he has closed detention hearings for immigration detainees, ordered the Bureau of Prisons to listen to certain attorney-client conversations, detained noncitizens without the benefit of counsel or judicial review, facilitated the implementation of military tribunals to try noncitizens for terrorist crimes, instituted the use of the classification "enemy combatant" to hold American citizens without access to counsel or judicial review, and publicly criticized as unpatriotic those who question these measures. All these things are being done in the name of fighting the war against terrorism.
General Ashcroft?
But the attorney general is not a member of the military fighting a war--he is a prosecutor fighting crime. For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center. The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.
Our country has faced many forms of devastating crime, including the scourge of the drug trade, the reign of organized crime, and countless acts of rape, child abuse, and murder. The acts of Sept. 11 were horrible, but so are these other things.
One arguable difference between those crimes and the tragedies of Sept. 11 is that foreign organizations, possibly even foreign governments, were involved in the planning, funding, and carrying out of the Sept. 11 attacks. But we have never treated such influences as a basis for ignoring the core constitutional protections ingrained in our criminal justice system. The "war on drugs"--a longer-term and far more devastating disaster for our country in terms of the number of affected people--has been facilitated by foreign organizations and governments. Yet, even after Panamanian President Manuel Noriega was arrested by U.S. military forces in Panama, he was brought to the United States, tried in the federal courts, and had full access to counsel, a trial by jury, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to present his own defense.
So what is John Ashcroft to do? Is he not supposed to be the lead advocate for law enforcement and use every tool he can to fight this crime? Is he not to seek every extension of the law and advantage he can imagine to wage this battle? Yes, but his duties do not end there.
As a prosecutor, he has a special responsibility beyond merely being the lawyer for one of the parties to a case. He is one of the major bulwarks against excess and abuse in the administration of justice. So much of what is done in the prosecution of crime happens before any court is involved. Because of this, we must rely on the prosecutors to watch out for the rights of everyone, including those they seek to punish.
The attorney general justifies much of his agenda by pointing to the "war on terrorism" and saying that it is an extreme situation that calls for extreme actions. But too much danger lies down that road. The protections built into our criminal justice system are there not merely to protect the guilty, but, more importantly, to protect the innocent. They must be applied to everyone to be effective. What are we fighting for if, in the name of protecting the principles that have raised this nation to the pinnacle of civilization, we abandon those very principles?
As Justice George Sutherland wrote in Berger v. United States (1935), a prosecutor "is the representative not of any ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done." It is a difficult balancing act between being a protector against crime and a protector of rights. But that is what lies at the heart of being a prosecutor.
We want Attorney General Ashcroft to be an aggressive advocate for our country. We want him to be effective in the fight against terrorism, as well as in the fight against all forms of crime that harm our country. We also want him to be a protector of the rights, liberties, and freedoms that make this country the envy of the world. Only by doing both will he truly fulfill his important role as the lead prosecutor for the United States of America.
James M. Cole is a partner at Bryan Cave in Washington, D.C. Before entering private practice, he worked in the Justice Department for 13 years, first as a prosecutor, and then as deputy chief of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section.

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 Debra J.M. Smith