Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Howard L. Berman sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to urge the State Department to work with Congress to create a coherent strategy for ensuring that Americans victims of international terrorism receive just and appropriate compensation.
Full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Madam Secretary:
For many years, I have been concerned that the United States lacks a coherent strategy for ensuring that American victims of international terrorism receive appropriate compensation. The piecemeal approach by the U.S. Government has resulted in scattered agreements, some of which have failed to provide adequate compensation, resulted in unending litigation, or generated a competition for limited settlement funds.
To help address this problem, I included a provision (Section 115) in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-195) that required the President to submit a report to Congress on equitable methods for providing such compensation. That report – which was submitted in January – explains the many complexities associated with compensating victims of terrorism, but fails to provide a roadmap to improve the process.
The most recent reports on the Libyan Claims Settlement program underscore the need for a cohesive strategy. The 2008 bilateral settlement with the then-Libyan government may not have provided for adequate funds to fully cover the subsequent claims settlements adjudicated by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission and paid by the Treasury Department, all pursuant to agreements by those agencies with the State Department. As a result, some claimants face the prospect of receiving favorable consideration by the Commission, but payments of only a portion of the Commission’s recommended awards.
In addition to the outstanding Libya cases, there are many U.S. victims of terrorism who have yet to be made whole and continue to suffer as the result, including victims of Palestinian terror; the bombing victims of the 1998 al Qaeda attacks in Kenya and Tanzania; Iran hostage victims; Iraq “human shields;” 1984 Beirut bombing victims; and many others.
Developing a comprehensive terrorism compensation policy is a difficult issue for which there are no easy solutions. Nonetheless, the complexities should not be allowed to remain an obstacle to working together on a comprehensive solution. I urge the Department to work with Congress in fashioning such a solution to end the march of victims who come to Congress as a last resort and who have no other means of compensation.
HOWARD L. BERMAN