Several dozen Americans who were among the injured in terrorist attacks sponsored by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and thought they would receive a sizable payment under federal law have recently received alarming letters about their settlement from the U.S. Treasury. Each victim’s claim for compensation was determined to be valid by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the Justice Department under the provisions of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act of 2008 (“LCRA”). Each victim surrendered his Constitutional right to pursue the Qaddafi regime in court in exchange for the promised settlement. Instead they face the prospect of being stiffed by their own government, which talked them into the deal. In the letters, the Treasury informed the victims that they will receive only 20% of the amount due to each of them at this time, with no timetable for paying the remaining 80% of the claim. Treasury cites a law that has nothing to do with the LCRA, but is a general statute applicable to the payment of any claim by the Treasury. As the Treasury website says, the amount to be paid is based on “the funds available,” so the Treasury is telegraphing to all of the victims that there is a serious shortfall of funds available to pay those unfortunate Americans who are the last to be compensated for their injuries suffered at Qaddafi’s hands. Under the LCRA and an accompanying letter issued by the then-Deputy Secretary of State, the Qaddafi regime was responsible for funding an account from which all valid LCRA claims would be paid. Obviously, Qaddafi didn’t voluntarily transfer enough funds, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.
The victims are asking Congress to pressure the Obama Administration to somehow ensure that all adjudicated claims are paid in full. As reported on The Cable website, one letter by Members has already been sent to the State Department, and I understand at least two others are under consideration. But the asset freeze agreed upon by the U.S. and European Union appears so sacrosanct that no one in Congress or the Obama Administration is making any serious move to enact legislation to force payment from the frozen funds, despite the fact that such a transfer has been done in the past for victims of Iranian and Cuban terrorism. As of now, there are no hearings scheduled and no bills introduced (although it could be drafted in an hour). Instead, the U.S. and E.U. have pledged to transfer the frozen assets to the rebels, some of whom fought for al Qaeda in Iraq against our troops. No Member in Congress has seriously challenged that agreement to date.
All this means the following: (1) The cozy relationship with the E.U. is apparently more important in Washington than keeping the promises made to U.S. citizens as determined by the Executive Branch in accordance with federal law. (2) An administrative action taken by the U.S. and E.U. now takes precedence over the Libyan Claims Resolution Act of 2008, a law enacted unanimously by Congress. (3) American victims of Qaddafi’s terrorism might receive just 20% of what the Justice Department officially promised them, while Libyan terrorists among the rebels might receive 100% of the unfrozen assets. (4) Americans who trusted their government enough to trade their Constitutional right for a settlement might get stiffed by their own government. Does that make any sense to you? And since when does the Constitution encourage or condone any of that?