U.S. Civil Litigation and International Terrorism
35 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2002
Since September 11, the United States has mobilized enormous military, political, and legal resources to combat the threat of terrorism. This paper examines one component of these efforts: civil suits for acts of terrorism. We analyze current U.S. law governing civil actions against terrorists, consider the strengths and weaknesses of such actions, and propose alternative reforms. The paper proceeds in four parts. Part I describes the central pivot around which the doctrinal issues turn - the problem of state action. Part II analyzes U.S. law governing civil litigation against alleged terrorists who do not implicate the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"). Part III analyzes U.S. law governing civil litigation against alleged terrorists who do implicate the FSIA. Part IV discusses the policy tradeoffs of civil actions against terrorists, considers the strengths and weaknesses of current law in light of these policy issues, and analyze several legal reforms.
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