VICTIM RIGHTS, ADVOCACY, AND JUSTICE
IN OUR POST-9/11 NATION
Though there had been terrorist attacks in the United States prior to September 11, 2001, the events on that day in the skies above America, and in the cities of Washington, DC, New York, NY, and Shanksville, PA led to an unprecedented focus on the rights of victims and survivors, and historical expectations were placed upon our government as Americans looked to our leaders for protection, reparations, and justice. In some estimation, our government reacted swiftly, passing legislative measures that would reinforce the strength of the American economy. In other respects, individuals found it necessary to form private groups ...view middle of the document...
They received almost $6 Billion in tax-free compensation. In addition, over 4,400 physical injury victims decided that the fund offered a better route than a trip to the courthouse; of these, 2,682 received over $1 Billion in compensation.
A group of four women who lost their husbands on 9/11, the “Jersey Girls” (aka Jersey Widows), along with 8 relatives of victims, formed the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, and became the country’s most outspoken activists, lobbying the U.S. government to investigate the terrorist attacks. This wasn’t for mere financial recovery: When faced with the revelation that we, the 9/11 families, were never going to have our day in court to hold people accountable and to gain valuable information, the widows and I decided to shift gears and fight for a 9/11 Commission. We wanted access to information so we could learn valuable lessons.
This group wanted to examine the actions of the President, Congress, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Department, the airlines, the INS, and local authorities to determine whether they failed to do their jobs prior to 9/11. “With no one being held accountable, how do we know this is not still happening?” They testified before the Joint Intelligence Committee of Congress on September 18, 2002, and the following week, the Senate voted 90-8 in favor of an independent commission. SB1867 and HB4777 established the 9/11 Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, and the 9/11 Commission heard testimony from multiple agencies and individuals over the next several years. Their final report was released on July 22, 2004. Upon reading the report, however, the activists were dismayed to find that a great many number of questions were left unanswered. Only within this last year have documents begun to be released under Freedom of Information requests, and a great deal of future lobbying and possibly, litigation, is anticipated.
This group of twelve was not the only group who refused to accept money from the Victim Compensation Fund. More than 500 spouses and family members of those who died on September 11th have united with the sole objective of bankrupting terrorism. They feel that they have isolated the defendants who “knowingly provided financial support and other forms of assistance to Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban, thereby helping the terrorists commit the atrocities of 9/11.” As of this writing, the Solicitor General has refused to support the 9/11 Families’ Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court, and the families are currently advocating for the right to have their day in court.
Without requiring the signing of a no-fault clause, The September 11th Fund was created by a New York trust and The United Way of New York City. The Fund collected $534 Million in donations, and distributed a total of 559 grants totaling $528 Million. The focus of these grants was to provide counseling, financial assistance, and other services...