Sunday, March 19, 2006


Carter Administration Agreement blocks Iranian hostages' compensation; Bush to blame

The headline says it all: Administration Blocks Ex-Hostages' Bid for Damages From Iran.

“But in 1996 Congress amended the foreign sovereign immunity law to allow suits against countries listed as state sponsors of terrorism. The former hostages sued under the new law, seeking $33 billion in compensatory and punitive damages, and won a default judgment against Iran in 2001.

“But on the eve of a hearing to consider damages, the Bush administration intervened, ….”

Reading that, you might think that, but for the Administration’s actions, the Iranian embassy hostages from over 25 years ago would be collecting some money from Iran. So why would the Administration side with Iran on this matter?

Well, because a previous administration said we would. The Washington Post article does not mention the Carter Administration…so I will. The “agreement with Iran that had secured the hostages' release” is known as the Algiers Accord. Warren Christopher, then Deputy Secretary of State, was the lead person in negotiating it and President Carter issued the executive order enforcing it. The Order clearly states:

“The Secretary of the Treasury shall promulgate regulations: (a) prohibiting any person …prosecuting …any claim against the Government of Iran arising out of events occurring before the date of this Order relating to (1) the seizure of the hostages on November 4, 1979….”

A Congressional Research Service paper for Congress further explains

“A further complication arose in connection with a suit against Iran by those who were held hostage from 1979-81, whose previous efforts to sue Iran for their ordeal had failed due to Iran’s sovereign immunity. In late 2000, the 52 persons who were held hostage and their families initiated a new suit against Iran under the terrorist state exception to the FSIA. After a federal district court held Iran to be liable but before it
assessed damages in 2001, the U.S. government intervened and argued that the case should be dismissed because Iran had not been designated a terrorist state at the time of the hostage incident — one of the requirements of the FSIA exception allowing suits against terrorist States — and because one part of the Algiers Accords that led to the hostages’ release in 1981 required the United States to bar any suits from being adjudicated based on the incident. Congress enacted riders to pending appropriations bills
to allow the suit to proceed. Nonetheless, the federal district court in 2002 dismissed the suit on the grounds the Algiers Accords, although entered into as a series of executive agreements, are binding on the United States and Congress had not acted with sufficient clarity to abrogate the provision precluding suit. Subsequent efforts in the 107th and 108th Congress expressly to abrogate the Algiers Accords did not succeed.”

As the Post’s article (but not the headline) and the above excerpt make clear, it’s not the Bush administration that is thwarting the former hostages efforts here.  A federal district court threw out the case in 2002 because of the Carter-Administration-negotiated Algiers Accord. In fact, a quote from Mr. Carter would have been helpful here ias to just how much in good faith he assessed his administration’s efforts in this deal and does he believe the Bush Administration should continue to seek adherence to the agreement.

Instead, it’s all Bush administration all the time:

“At an emotional meeting this month at the State Department, steps from the office of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a group of former American hostages released by Iran a quarter of a century ago, accompanied by lawyers and some relatives, confronted two of Rice's most senior aides..” (emphasis added)

That meeting occurred on March 2nd, the case was dismissed in 2002 and the Administration is defending a 1981 negotiated international settlement of the Carter Administration. Why is this a front page story on March 19th 2006 unless it is just to make the administration look petty and mean-spirited?  Never mind, I answered my own question.

It's fair to say, however, that administration after administration has weighed in on the side of rotten countries on the theory that foreign policy should be made by the executive branch and not by private individuals, however deserving, in conjunction with the judiciary.

Each time this happens, I get a nasty feeling in my stomach, but intellectually I can understand the position.
Well this is par for the course when it comes to Jimmy "media Whore" Carter. AKA: Funeral Crasher. I wonder when this guy is just going to stop talking?
I believe all administrations are sympathetic to the victims/families but are trying to look at their larger picture. They also just cannot win in the soundbite battle. I just wish the Post would acknowledge that and do a better job of giving us the larger picture, historical context and less of the soundbites.
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