US Judge: State Dept. ‘Mealy-Mouthed’ in Suit against PA
A U.S. federal judge Tuesday castigated the Obama administration for being “particularly unhelpful” and the State Department for being “mealy mouthed” concerning a lawsuit filed against the Palestinian Authority for a terrorist attack.
The $250 million lawsuit was filed by relatives of Esh Kodesh Gilmore, a security guard who was murdered at the age of 25 in an attack by Tanzim terrorists, a branch of the PA, outside Israel government offices in eastern Jerusalem in 2000.
U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler complained that government officials refused to offer opinions in the case, in which the judge has to decide whether to grant the PA a trial or issue a default judgment. The PA often has declined to defend itself in previous lawsuits for terrorist attacks.
"The Executive Branch of the United States has been particularly unhelpful in resolving this difficult Motion," Kessler wrote. "The Court requested that the State Department file a Statement of Interest in order to understand the international ramifications of any order it might enter, and to be apprised of our Government’s position about such ramifications. In this case, as in Knox v. The Palestinian Liberation Organization. ... the State Department declined to do so. Instead it filed the identical mealy-mouthed Notice there as it did in this case. That Notice, for all practical purposes, said nothing.”
Government lawyers had told the court, "The United States supports just compensation for victims of terrorism from those responsible for their losses and has encouraged all parties to resolve these cases to their mutual benefit. At the same time, the United States remains concerned about the potentially significant impact that these default cases may have on the defendants’ financial and political viability."
This is not the first time Judge Kessler has complained about the Obama administration, Earlier this month, she ruled that the Defense Department was in contempt of court for not filming testimony of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, despite her instructions for a video tape in order to allow the media and the public to view the proceedings.