- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003


A federal appeals court rejected last week a lawsuit against the U.S. government brought by Kenyan victims of the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in Nairobi.

Three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia voted unanimously on Friday to uphold a lower court ruling that such a suit could not be brought under U.S. law.

The Kenya bombing and a simultaneous bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed 224 persons and injured more than 5,000. The attacks were blamed on al Qaeda, the terrorist group held responsible for the September 11 attacks.

A class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 5,000 Kenyan citizens and businesses charged the United States with failing to adequately protect the embassy from a terrorist attack.

But the appeals court said a suit could proceed only if the plaintiffs could show that the U.S. government had violated a regulation, law or policy. There are no such rules that embassy employees must follow in providing security; rather, they make constant adjustments based on information they receive, the court said.

“Embassy security is vested in the discretion of State Department employees, from the secretary to the Foreign Service offices at various embassies,” the court said.

Washington has spent more than $42 million to help victims of the blast in Kenya, providing services that include initial emergency assistance, medical programs, and aid to small- and medium-size businesses that were damaged. The U.S. government also provided Tanzania with $9.2 million to help the victims of the bombing there.

Last July, survivors of the embassy bombings and victims’ families filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington against Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and others, seeking $100 billion in damages.

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