Wikileaks: Lawyer Representing 9/11 Families Against Saudis Wanted to ‘Defang’ the Issue

(Members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh April 29, 2009 . REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed )
REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

An attorney representing the families of victims of the September 11 attacks reached out to Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and aide Cheryl Mills offering to help “defang” the “politicization” of lawsuits implicating Saudi Arabia in the terrorist attacks.

“Those of us who have been concerned about that politicization have had some thoughts about how to defang the issue and would be happy to knock those around with you or Cheryl if and whenever you like,” attorney Jack Quinn wrote in a March 27, 2015 email to Podesta and Mills.

The emails have been made public along with thousands of pieces of correspondence from John Podesta’s email account by the organization Wikileaks. Wikileaks claims to have tens of thousands of such emails, but is releasing them in smaller batches as part of a searchable database.

Quinn initially wrote to Mills and Podesta on March 26, 2015 introducing himself as “co-counsel to a large number of plaintiffs in the ‘9/11 cases'” in New York. Given the ties between Saudi Arabia and the Clinton Foundation, he wrote, made some on his legal team consider that “you may find it helpful to receive a briefing on the status of our discovery efforts, our responses to KSA’s motion to dismiss and our best assessment of prospects for the litigation and its final resolution.”

The Clinton Foundation has received up to $50 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the United States increased the number of nonimmigrant visas to Saudi nationals by 93 percent.

Podesta appears to have initially replied that he would “defer to Cheryl on this,” who he later emailed again, asking, “should we worry about this?” Mills replied that she had “been ignoring” Quinn’s email.

Quinn replied to Podesta’s email, according to the Wikileaks files, expressing concern about the “political” climate surrounding defending Saudi Arabia from lawsuits in American courts, highlighting Rand Paul’s public demands that the Clinton Foundation return money donated from Saudi Arabia.

“In reaching out, we had in mind that politicization of the litigation is is [sic] not in the families interest, but we see that conceivably happening in the likely escalation of Rand Paul’s charges about Saudi donations,” he wrote. “We are also mindful of the increasing irritability of some of the 9/11 families, particularly ones we do not represent.” He notes that of particular concern is upcoming discovery sessions that would make it “clearly improper” to dismiss Saudi Arabia in such a lawsuit on sovereign immunity grounds.

Quinn says the issue of suing Saudi Arabia in the Southern District of New York “could also, however, be brought to a conclusion sooner if we are successful in our separate effort to encourage a political resolution of the dispute.”

“Those of us who have been concerned about that politicization have had some thoughts about how to defang the issue and would be happy to knock those around with you or Cheryl if and whenever you like,” Quinn concludes.

Since these emails were sent, redacted pages of the 9/11 report have been made public that show significant collusion between the Al Qaeda hijackers and the government of Saudi Arabia, with report writers stating it was “unacceptable” for the FBI and CIA, under the auspices of President Bill Clinton, to have not investigated multiple leads on Al Qaeda further.

Congress has also passed a bill over presidential veto that allows the victims of 9/11 families to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in American courts, overriding the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. At least one victim has filed a suit against the government.


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