Outside of Camp Lajeune in North Carolina sits a simple memorial. Written on it are the words, “They came in peace.” It is the memorial to the 241 Marines, soldiers and sailors who died on Oct. 23, 1983, when Iran sent a suicide bomber to blow up their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.
Most Americans view this bit of history in simple terms. Our forces were in Lebanon as peace keepers, and Iran was and still is the enemy. That is why on May 16th, we told you about one of the American law firms that represents Iran.
The story attracted the interest of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, which is home to Camp Lajeune, was particularly outraged that American lawyers would defend Iran against the American victims of terrorism. Mr. Jones directed his ire toward the law firms of Chaffetz Lindsey and MoloLampken, which fought tooth and nail for Iran as that terrorist nation attempted to deny justice to the families of the Beirut Marines. Mr. Jones went as far as to introduce House Resolution 748, a resolution decrying the fact that American law firms were representing Iran in its attempt to deny justice to the victims of terrorism. Mr. Jones said, “The victims’ families have fought for over 30 years to hold the Iranian government liable for its key role in the terror attacks that killed their loved ones. It’s disgraceful that some fat-cat American attorneys are getting paid big bucks to keep fellow Americans from getting the just compensation they deserve.”
Perhaps the political pressure has finally gotten to the lawyers. In a June 1 letter to the Court, Iran’s lead attorney from Chaffetz Lindsey wrote, “Given that the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and Second Circuit in this case preclude any further argument on the merits in this Court.”
Chaffetz Lindsey and MoloLampken are not the only law firms that have fought for Iran and against Americans. Beginning in 2008, the U.S. government began forfeiture proceedings against a building owned by in part by Assa Corp., which is a shell corporation for Iran in New York City. The building, 650 Fifth Avenue, is believed to be worth $500 million. American lawyers immediately jumped at the chance to defend Iran. The law firms of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, Rosen and Livingston, Jaffe & Asher LLP, Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP all represented Iran’s shell companies against the American victims of Iranian terrorism.
In September 2013, Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that “based on the uncontroverted record evidence, Assa was (and is) a front for [Iran’s first national bank] Bank Melli, and thus a front for the government of Iran.” She then ordered the building forfeited to the U.S. government so it could distribute the proceeds to American victims of Iranian terrorism. That case is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York.
Why do these law firms chose to represent Iran over American victims of Iranian terrorism?
The answer, of course, is money. Each of these law firms was paid to represent the Iranian bank or the Iranian shell companies that were set up to get around the sanctions that had been put in place against Iran. Each of these law firms knew what the case was about when they got involved. They knew what the facts of the case were as they proceeded into litigation and for some of the law firms, into the appeal of the case to the U.S. 2nd Circuit.
These law firms chose to represent Iran and its interests.
Congressman Jones is furious that American law firms would stand with Iran against the American victims of terrorism. Every real American should be, too.