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Politics

Malliotakis, 9/11 Victim Push President Biden to Do the Right Thing

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), who represents hundreds of families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, joined House Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) in sending a letter dated April 5 to White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain regarding the White House’s handling of $3.5 billion in assets seized from the Afghanistan Central Bank.

These assets were specifically made available to the “Havlish Plaintiffs,” roughly 150 individuals who have legal claims against the Taliban, under an executive order signed by President Biden on February 11, 2022, which excludes a large portion of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

By making these assets specifically available to the Havlish Plaintiffs, President Biden’s executive order circumvents Congressionally-established mechanisms for the compensation of victims of terrorism, including the Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act that established the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (VSST Fund) that provides a way for victims of terrorism, particularly those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, to receive compensation.

“The Biden Administration, it seems, has departed from this established process with respect to the assets seized from the Afghanistan Central Bank,” the lawmakers wrote. “Rather than directing the $3.5 billion in seized assets into the VSST Fund where all victims with valid claims may be equitably compensated under the pro-rata formula established by Congress, the Biden Administration has chosen to circumvent this process in an apparent attempt to pick winners and losers among victims of terrorism.”

Additionally, the lawmakers pointed out the conflict of interest with the lead counsel for the Havlish Plaintiffs, Lee Wolosky, who previously served as Special Counsel in the Biden Administration and worked on matters relating to the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“There are also serious questions about the Biden White House’s four-month employment of an attorney who now, as a counsel for the Havlish Plaintiffs in private practice, stands to reap a windfall in attorney’s fees,” the lawmakers added. “The White House reportedly hired this attorney, Lee Wolosky, as a special counsel to the president in September 2021 to work on matters relating to Afghanistan. According to Axios’s reporting at the time, Wolosky worked “with the National Security Council (NSC) and other administration officials on resettlement, as well as other issues related to the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan.” The NSC reportedly spearheaded the Biden Administration’s deliberations on what to do with the seized Afghanistan Central Bank.”

“It would be unjust and unfair for just a few people to receive the lion’s share of monies benefitting victims of terrorism,” said Tim Frolich, a 9/11 survivor who worked on the 80th floor of the South Tower. “All 9/11 victims should also be compensated for their loss that occurred over twenty years ago on our American soil. I believe using the USVSST Fund in this process is the best way for an equitable way to distribute this money.”

The full text of the letter is available online: https://adobe.ly/3Jk6sLQ.

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