Sept. 11 Case Awaits Biden Administration’s Reply on Plea Deal for Victims’ Families
As Senate Judiciary Committee staffers prepare for a Sept. 12 hearing to discuss possible judicial nominations, the Bush administration is struggling to provide updates to the families of victims’ relatives who died in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The Justice Department’s criminal division has agreed to a settlement with the families of the more than 2,700 people who died in the attacks, most who died in New York and Washington. The Justice Department’s civil division is considering civil asset forfeiture provisions in the settlement.
The families were first alerted that some victims’ relatives would receive settlement checks in February and asked to see if the settlement would include the civil asset forfeiture provisions, which would allow the Attorney General to seize the victim’s assets if they can prove they were involved in terrorism activity. The families asked the government to provide assurances that victims’ relatives are not targeted for death in order to prevent the same from happening to anyone else.
At the time, Justice Department lawyers told the families that the government would not take money from victims’ relatives for the civil forfeiture provisions.
“We still don’t see evidence that this is happening, particularly to our victims,” said Lisa B. Kastan, the attorney representing the families of victims’ relatives. “We still don’t see evidence that there’s a pattern of taking victims’ assets in this manner.”
The Sept. 11 victims’ relatives have been waiting since February to hear from the Justice Department. They believe the agency did not act promptly to inform them of the settlement and the civil forfeiture provisions, and they wonder why they remained silent for so long.
Since the settlement was announced in February, the families have been awaiting a response from the criminal division of the Department of Justice.
“All we’ve received is a letter about a settlement, and nothing else,” said Barbara Blumer, a lawyer representing the victims’ relatives. “