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Lawyers Ask N.Y. Federal Judge to Find Iran Liable for Sept. 11 Terror Attacks

Larry Neumeister All Articles

The Associated Press

May 24, 2011

Lawyers representing 9/11 families are asking a federal judge to find Iran culpable in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, saying new evidence shows Iranian officials had advanced word of the attacks and helped train the hijackers.

The lawyers filed papers Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan saying there is "clear and convincing" evidence to conclude default judgment damages should be paid to their plaintiffs -families and personal representatives of some of those killed in the attacks.

Supporting their arguments, the lawyers cited the testimony of three defectors from Iran's intelligence service, the Ministry of Information and Security, saying they worked in positions that gave them access to sensitive information regarding Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism. They said the testimony, part of 28 hours of testimony by four witnesses, supports a claim that Iranian officials had advanced word of the attacks and that Iran helped train those who carried it out.

Iran has not responded to the lawsuit, which was first filed in Washington, D.C., and later transferred to New York. A message was left Friday with the Iranian mission to the United Nations.

The Shiite regime in Iran and al-Qaida, a Sunni group, are natural enemies, though they have sometimes had a relationship of convenience based on their shared hatred of the U.S.

The lawyers said Iran and "its proxy terrorist organization," the Lebanese group Hezbollah, entered into a terrorist alliance with al-Qaida in the early 1990s that continued throughout the preparations for the 2001 attacks. They said Iran and Hezbollah gave material support to al-Qaida after the attacks by helping some of the terrorist group's leaders and their families escape from the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

As part of their proof, the lawyers said they were filing videotaped testimony under seal in which three defectors from Iran's intelligence service "circumstantially and directly" implicate Iran and Hezbollah in the Sept. 11 attacks. Iran and Hezbollah had "foreknowledge of, and complicity in, the overall design of, and preparations for, the 9/11 attacks, involving, but not limited to, facilitation of the hijackers' international travel, training and through Iran provision of safe haven for al-Qaida after the attacks," the lawyers wrote.

They said the witnesses, identified in court documents only as "Witnesses X, Y and Z," also provided testimony revealing that then-senior Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyah had an integral role in the Iran-Hezbollah-al-Qaida terror alliance. One of the witnesses testified that Iran anticipated a retaliatory strike against Iran if its role in the 9/11 attacks was discovered. Mughniyah died in a car bombing in 2008.

 

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ABA Accreditation for Law School in China Runs Up Against U.S. Job Fears

Anthony Lin All Articles

The Asian Lawyer

May 24, 2011

Dean Jeffrey Lehman is generally pleased with the progress of the new law school he oversees. The former dean of University of Michigan Law School and onetime president of Cornell University has seen enrollment at the three-year-old school go from 53 extremely bright and highly motivated students per class to 80.

He will also soon have recruited eight full-time faculty members to work alongside a star-studded roster of visiting faculty that has included Harvard professors Charles Ogletree and Jack Goldsmith. Ground will be broken later this year on a stunning new Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed law school building.

The one sticking point has been accreditation by the American Bar Association. Which seems like it should be a no-brainer, except that this law school is located in Shenzhen, China.

Lehman has long hoped to make the Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) the first law school outside the United States to be accredited by the ABA, which would allow its graduates to take the bar exam in any U.S. state.

Though its students are almost all Chinese, the school teaches a predominantly U.S. law curriculum in English and employs a faculty whose members mostly hold J.D.s from American law schools. Lehman and other supporters see the school as promoting U.S. law and the values behind it as a sort of legal lingua franca in an increasingly globalized world.

But that aim has run headlong into the still-weak U.S. legal job market. Fears of a tide of new overseas competition for scarce work were evident in many of the 60 comments the ABA received in response to a special-committee report released last fall recommending the accreditation section begin considering foreign schools.

"As a long-time ABA member, I have no doubt why so many people refuse to join the association or leave shortly after joining," wrote Kelley Drye & Warren partner Steven Moore. "This proposal makes absolutely no sense, unless we just want to implode the legal field in the United States and get our unemployment rate in the double digits for decades to come."

A number of law student groups have voiced similar economic arguments. The student bar association of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law said the proposal would have "an unjustifiable impact upon employment for current and future attorneys from the United States."

Several law school deans expressed concern that accrediting foreign schools would undermine their L.L.M. programs. Such programs, they argue, offer foreign law students critical immersion in U.S. culture they would not receive at overseas schools like STL. Fordham Law School Dean Michael Martin wrote that lower-cost overseas schools could under-price U.S. schools, leading to a "race to the bottom" that "would ultimately have the effect of eroding our system of legal education."

 

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