No decision yet on terror lawsuits

 

Top federal lawyers told Americans seeking legal redress from the Palestinian Authority for terrorist acts that the Bush administration has yet to decide its position.

About 20 survivors of terrorist attacks and the families of those killed in terrorist attacks met Wednesday with about a dozen lawyers from the State and Justice departments led by John B. Bellinger III, the State Department’s top lawyer.

A federal court in December asked the government for an opinion on efforts by the families to force the Palestinian Authority to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars won in civil litigation. The P.A. has argued that such payment would bankrupt it at a time that it is endeavoring to face down extremists and arrive at a peace deal with Israel.

The meeting lasted for several hours; the families related their stories at length, and left more positive than when they entered, said a source close to the group. Earlier reports had suggested that the Bush administration was leaning toward intervening on the P.A.’s behalf.

The families have also lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and on Thursday they will culminate their meetings in a session with Kenneth Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security.

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