Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley, Colleagues call for Full FBI Transparency and Cooperation with 9/11 Victims and Families Pursuing Justice

Mar 08, 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray today to ensure that the FBI is fully and promptly cooperating with 9/11 victims and their families seeking justice through the courts.
 
In 2016, Congress approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which allows victims of terrorism and their families to pursue civil lawsuits against foreign states that aid and abet terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Today, Blumenthal, Cornyn, Gillibrand, Grassley, and Schumer asked Director Wray to ensure that the FBI is working with survivors to provide evidence and documents necessary in their pursuit of justice. 
 
“In order to obtain the justice they deserve, it is vital for these victims and their families to receive cooperation and transparency from their own government in gathering evidence where possible.  The victims of 9/11 and their families contend that the FBI has information that is particularly critical to support their claims, but we understand that the FBI remains noncommittal about whether it will turn over important evidence,” the senators wrote. “JASTA’s fundamental promise of accountability and transparency cannot be fulfilled if victims of terrorism and their families are denied the information to which they are lawfully entitled.”
 
The full text of the letter is copied below and available here.
 
Dear Director Wray:
 
In 2016, Congress overwhelmingly and resoundingly came together to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and ensure that victims of terrorism and their families can bring civil lawsuits against foreign states that aid and abet terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.  Congress was concerned that terrorism victims and their families were denied access to the neutral forum of a federal court due to the aggressive application of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Congress has repeatedly affirmed that lawsuits by victims of terror are vital to hold supporters of terrorism accountable, and we write today to urge the FBI to uphold congressional intent by providing greater transparency and justice for American victims.
 
As you know, right now victims of 9/11 and their families are relying on JASTA to demonstrate in federal court in New York that agents of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided unlawful material support to al Qaeda, including the 9/11 hijackers.  In order to obtain the justice they deserve, it is vital for these victims and their families to receive cooperation and transparency from their own government in gathering evidence where possible.  The victims of 9/11 and their families contend that the FBI has information that is particularly critical to support their claims, but we understand that the FBI remains noncommittal about whether it will turn over important evidence. JASTA’s fundamental promise of accountability and transparency cannot be fulfilled if victims of terrorism and their families are denied the information to which they are lawfully entitled.
 
We urge the FBI to ensure that proper protocols are followed to release relevant documents under JASTA. Just last year, the Senate passed S. Res. 610 calling on the executive branch to declassify “to the greatest extent possible” all documents related to the events of September 11, 2001. Consistent with that Resolution, the FBI should not withhold relevant information from the victims or their families in these cases for any reason. 9/11 victims and their families have agreed to a strict protective order in their lawsuit to protect legitimate governmental interests. The families have been seeking justice for more than 17 years and they require and deserve access to their Government’s records sufficient to give them an opportunity to present their case, which Congress sought to provide by enacting JASTA.
 
The FBI must take all necessary steps to ensure that the pending requests for information concerning 9/11 litigation are handled expeditiously, that the production of documents proceeds unhindered, and that the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld so that the victims of terrorist attacks get their fair day in American court.  Congress has made clear its view that American interests would best be served by a full and fair inquiry into these matters. 
 
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