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Home Current Saudi News & Analysis Obama Nominates 9/11 Lawyer James Cole for Deputy Attorney General

Obama Nominates 9/11 Lawyer James Cole for Deputy Attorney General

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By Ali Alyami

On May 24, 2010, President Barak Obama nominated Mr. James Cole for the position of Deputy Attorney General of the United States. While the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR) does not accuse Mr. Cole of any wrongdoing, we found his nomination objectionable on moral and humane principles.

After the families of the thousands of 9/11 victims sued the Saudi ruling family for its alleged role in the 9/11 attack on the US, by mostly Saudi nationals, Mr. Cole was sought by and accepted to defend the disreputable Saudi Minister of Interior, Prince Naif. Under the American democratic system, accused criminals have their day in open courts and access to lawyers. In Saudi Arabia, Prince Naif’s ministry arrests and interrogates citizens and expatriates and imprisons them without charges or trial for months and years.

While Prince Naif and his family did not hijack American planes and use them to massacre thousands of innocent Americans, the royal family’s institutions provided the terrorists with the tools: anti-American sentiments and religious hate for non-Muslims. Who is more at fault, the one who pulls the trigger or the one who provides the gun and trophy? Prince Naif has never acknowledged his country’s role in the murderous 9/11 attack which resulted in the death of more than 3,000 innocent people and destruction of America’s military and trade symbols of power, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Cole would be responsible for the process of determining prosecution, as well as the treatment and interrogation of terrorist suspects. Notably, Mr. Cole would be involved in choosing the location of the trial of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Debra Burlingame, who lost a family member in the 9/11 attack, argues that Cole "would be the guy who would be leading the charge for the entire department in the war on terror and I think he is grossly ill-suited." Her understandable and justified concern is echoed by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who referred to an op-ed by Mr. Cole in 2002 in which he described the 9/11 attacks as criminal acts instead of acts of war. Sessions said, “Cole's opinions alone are controversial at a time the country is fighting terrorism.”

The question that should be asked is how Mr. Cole will relate to Prince Naif, whom he represented and exonerated of any wrongdoing under the American democratic system of justice. Will he press Naif to curtail Saudi religious clerics’ hate dissemination against America, stop supporting extremists groups and institutionalize laws to make it a crime for Saudi nationals to commit acts of terrorism against the US and the international community? How would Prince Naif respond to Mr. Cole? Knowing the Saudi way of doing business, we can only assume that Prince Naif would say, “Mr. Cole you have found me and my country innocent of any involvement, directly or indirectly, in any act of terrorist activities.”
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