By Brian P. McGlinchey
As reported earlier, the Saudi government’s enormous lobbying force has grown to include 14 firms as it works to pressure lawmakers into revising a new law that enables victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the kingdom for its alleged role in aiding the hijackers. Yesterday, Daily Caller put a spotlight on one front in that far-reaching Saudi campaign: a series of op-ed pieces penned by military and national security veterans that use identical sentences to make their points.
The Eric Owens article characterizes the effort as “astroturfing,” a term used to describe a centrally-organized effort to create a false appearance of grass-roots support for a political cause. The op-ed pieces call for changes to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), passed into law in September via a congressional override of President Obama’s veto of the measure.
Owens provides several examples of nearly-identical language found in pieces written by different individuals for different newspapers.
For one of those examples, here is retired Air Force general William Russel Cotney in Nashville’s The Tennessean:
“The principle known as sovereign immunity has governed relations between states for centuries. It holds that governments cannot be sued for civil wrongs without their consent. In international relations, it preserves the right and responsibility of governments to settle disputes with other governments on behalf of their citizens.”
And here’s attorney and former Army medical specialist Angela Sinkovits writing for The Denver Post:
“The principle of sovereign immunity has governed relations between states for centuries. It holds that governments cannot be sued for civil wrongs without their consent. In international relations, it preserves the right and responsibility of governments to settle disputes with other governments on behalf of their citizens.”
Deceit and Dishonesty
A lack of original prose is the least of the sins showcased by these military veterans—who once swore to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. In their eagerness to repeat whatever the Saudi PR firms apparently provided to them or wrote on their behalf, they are also—perhaps unwittingly—trafficking in lies.
- Lie #1: There is little or no evidence of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers. 28 pages from a joint congressional intelligence inquiry that were declassified in July spell out a wide variety of connections, including the Saudi ambassador to the United States channeling nearly $100,000 to an individual in southern California who bragged about the aid he provided to two future hijackers.
- Lie #2: JASTA “guts” the concept of sovereign immunity. Prior to JASTA, U.S. law already allowed citizens to sue foreign state sponsors of terror; JASTA merely made a narrow adjustment to that law.
- Lie #3: If other nations reciprocate, individual U.S. military service members and government employees would face lawsuits. JASTA only allows suits against foreign governments—not individuals.
Read the Daily Caller piece—it includes many more examples of copycat language, and reaction from 9/11 widow Terry Strada, who worked hard to help achieve the passage of JASTA and is now determined to protect it from Saudi meddling.