• Andrew Ramonas
    Lobbying Reporter
  • Beth Frerking
    Editor in Chief
  • David Brown
    Vice President/Editor, ALM
  • Diego Radzinschi
    Photo Editor
  • Jenna Greene
    Senior Reporter
  • Marcia Coyle
    Chief Washington Correspondent
  • Mike Scarcella
    Washington Bureau Chief
  • Todd Ruger
    Capitol Hill Reporter
  • Tony Mauro
    Supreme Court Correspondent
  • Zoe Tillman
    D.C. Courts Reporter

« The Morning Wrap | Main | Attorney Tapped to Lead D.C. Office of Boards and Commissions »

July 05, 2012


Stephen Wells

I'm a veteran that survived the bombing of the Marine barracks. I do not understand why anyone would be asking for judgement against the party that attacked us unless there was a way to collect. It's a useless waste of effort for an totally empty symbolic statement. Will it make repairations to those who lost everything? Would it bring back the dead? If anyone should be sued in my opinion it would be the idiots that put us in harms way with no means of protecting ourselves with stupid rules of engagement and then justified it by saying "we" were not at war. When in fact we were dropped right in the middle of a war zone. Only a professional politician could somehow justify something like that and then be surprised by the consiquences of such an action. That is almost as dumb as suing a country that you would never be able to collect from. What a sad world we live in. Thanks for nothing.... Twice...

Chris Rauch

Sided with? I don't know about that. If memory serves me correctly, President Gemayel requested the presence of a "Peacekeeping" Multi-National Force.
Consisting of Italian, British, French, and U.S. Personnel,we were deployed throughout Beirut to help maintain order. The United States mediated withdrawal
of all foreign forces in Lebanon.

Maybe, if Gemayel was Druze, you would say we sided with the Druze? The Druze and Christians have a common hatred for one-another. President Gemayel
failed to put in place the reforms Muslim Parties felt entitled to. We, the Multi National Forces, got caught in the middle. Fighting began between
the Lebanese Forces and Druze in the Chouf mountains. As a result, the Druze turned their artillery towards Christian neighborhoods, killing mostly
civilians. Marines, such as myself, also were shelled and shot at regularly.

The Shia Muslim Amal Movement, which today aligns itself with Hezbollah, fought with Lebanese Forces near Multi National Force positions. United Nations
casualties spurred a response by the Multi National Forces, which regained control. The Druze and Christians were at war all around us. My orders,
as a Marine, were to not open fire unless fired upon.

O.K., so now the Israeli Defense Force pulls out of the Chouf, leaving a gaping hole. The Druze take Bhamdoun with their Soviet supplied tanks and Syrian
Artillery. They want to cleanse the region of Christians, slaughtering many in their wake. When the Lebanese Forces were pushed back in the Chouf, the Druze
had an un-obstructed view of the Beirut Airport and Marine positions.

I googled the USS New Jersey BB-62. From what I read, the Jersey didn't lobb car-sized shells (16 inch) into the mountains until after the Marine Barracks

"In August 1983 militiamen began to bombard United States Marines positions near Beirut International Airport with mortar and rocket fire as the Lebanese
Army fought Druze and Shia forces in the southern suburbs of Beirut. On 29 August 1983, two Marines were killed and fourteen wounded, and in the ensuing
months the Marines came under almost daily attack from artillery, mortar, rocket, and small-arms fire.[26] After this attack the Marines began returning
fire. The Reagan Administration decided to dispatch New Jersey, a decision the Marines cheered.[27]

On 16 September 1983 Druze forces massed on the threshold of Suk El Gharb, a village defended by the Lebanese Army. Suk El Gharb was a village with
strategic importance: the militias coming up from the south had to traverse Suk El Gharb to get to the Beirut–Aley road. Moreover, Suk El Gharb controlled
a ridge that overlooked Baabda, Yarze, which was the location of the Ministry of Defence, and East Beirut. From that ridge, the Militia gunners could shoot
directly downhill at those locations with artillery.[26] United States Navy warships shelled Druze positions and helped the Lebanese Army hold the town of
Suk El Gharb until a cease-fire was declared on 25 September, on which day the battleship New Jersey arrived on the scene.[26] The arrival of New Jersey was
one of several factors contributing to a reduction in the number of attacks on the Marines.[28]

On 28 November—after 23 October, 1983 Beirut barracks bombing—the U.S. government announced that New Jersey would be retained off Beirut although her crew
would be rotated.

On 14 December, New Jersey fired 11 projectiles from her 16 inch (406 mm) guns at hostile positions inland of Beirut. These were the first
16 inch (406 mm) shells fired for effect anywhere in the world since New Jersey ended her time on the gunline in Vietnam in 1969.[29] This shelling was in
response to attacks on U.S. reconnaissance planes by Syrian/Druze antiaircraft batteries.[30]

On 8 February 1984, New Jersey fired almost 300 shells at Druze and Syrian positions in the Bekaa Valley east of Beirut. Some 30 of these massive projectiles
rained down on a Syrian command post, killing the general commanding Syrian forces in Lebanon and several other senior officers. This was the heaviest shore
bombardment since the Korean War

Although New Jersey performed her job expertly during the intervention in Lebanon some have criticized the decision to have New Jersey shell Druze and Syrian
forces. Members of this camp allege that this action forced a shift in the previously neutral U.S. forces by convincing local Lebanese Muslims that the United
States had taken the Christian side;[32] New Jersey's shells had killed hundreds of people, mostly Shiites and Druze.[33] In his memoir, General Colin Powell
(at the time an assistant to Caspar Weinberger) noted that "When the shells started falling on the Shiites, they assumed the American ‘referee’ had taken sides."[34]

The accuracy of New Jersey's guns was also called into question. An investigation into New Jersey's gunfire effectiveness in Lebanon, led by Marine Colonel Don Price,
found that many of the ship's shells had missed their targets by as much as 10,000 yards (9,140 m) and therefore may have inadvertently killed civilians".

-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dan R.

I am sorry but this Judgment makes me kind of sick. This bombing was an act of war, not a terrorist bombing. No civilians died in this attack, it was all military personell.

Let me explain to you what led up to this bombing and why the barracks were bombed. Yes, the Marines were sent in as "Peacekeepers" to control the civil war between the Christians and the Muslims. But what people tend to forget and what is usually skipped over in US media is that preceding the barracks bombing, the US took a side in this war, the side of the Christians. Any second grader can tell you if you take a side in a war, you will be attacked by the other side. Simple as that. The USS New Jersey battle ship (and you can google this), was lobbing car size shells into the Mountains of Lebanon, killing hundreds of Muslim civilians before the Muslims retaliated with the Barracks bombing. Where is the compensation for the civilans that were killed by the Marines?

The families that are taking part in this lawsuit and are seeking money should be ashamed of themselves, they are UnAmerican, Greedy, and they make me sick........

Marianne C. Votaw

It is good (well, no, nothing good about any of this but polite terms lack) to hear from someone who was in the barracks, you will have known the Marine who died defending my father and his colleagues. I may be a pacifist as was Dad, but have a special spot in my heart for Marines, especially the embassy guards. And thank you for quibbling with my nitpick so kindly. This is obviously important to both of us. Dictionaries aside, this could be considered the third World war, waged between terrorists and that which they attack. In which case it's been ongoing since early November 1979 when the Tehran embassy was taken, and include all of these bombings etc.

 Chris Rauch

Ms. Votaw. I'm sorry for the loss you suffered. When "The use of violence
and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes"
results in loss of life, it is a despicable act of terrorism.

You say your father was "Killed by an act of terrorism in Beirut", but claim
"Those Marines, fallen heroes all, were killed in an act of war".

I am one of the Marines who survived the bombing of the Barracks in Beirut.
The attack occurred at 6:23 A.M., on a Sunday. Most of us were still asleep.

Though there was Civil War in Beirut during the time it did not involve the
Marines. A war is defined as "an armed conflict between different nations or
States, or different groups within a nation or state". Our mission was one of

More simply put, Ms. Votaw, As a Marine I swore to uphold the virtues of the
Constitution of the United States of America. Everyone has inalienable rights,
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What these terrorists did, by
killing my fellow Marines, and your father, was to deny them their rights.

I served in Beirut from 1982 until after the bombing of the barracks in 1983.
During that time I observed many atrocities that man inflicts upon man.
I assisted in the clean-up operations after the attack on the embassy, and
searched through the rubble at the barracks looking for survivors.

We, the American Military, did not occupy Beirut. We brought aide and a
measure of peace. We did not engage in an armed conflict with Hezbollah or

Iran continues to be a sponsor of terrorism to date. In 1983, they used
Hezbollah as a tool for their own political purposes. In doing so, they
took from us and our families our inalienable rights. This lawsuit was served
on the Iranians to that effect.

You claim "It was poor generalship on our part and plain warfare on theirs".
I must disagree with you, there was no warfare on "Their" part. The bombing
of the Barracks was an un-provoked act of violence. This lawsuit, effectively,
seeks to make it more difficult for terrorists to make threats, intimidate or
coerce others for their political gain.

War and Terrorism are not synonymous and shouldn't be confused. I sympathize
with your anger over the loss of your father. Your father, however, died as
the result of terrorism, not war, just like my fellow Marines.

-Blessed are the Peacekeepers

Marianne C. Votaw

I am sorry for the families of the Marines under discussion. However, I have a strong personal aversion to the tone of this article.
My father was killed by an act of terrorism in Beirut months before the group, Hezbollah, went after a legitimate target which was the occupying foreign military. Those Marines, fallen heroes all, were killed in an act of war which had been quite violently declared by blowing up our embassy and murdering more than threescore *civilians* and exactly one Marine, the only one who can claim terrorism, back in April 1983.
The seemingly-unsurpassing callousness of *our* government in restaffing that embassy with civilians (who had no dependent children, mind you, so Dad got picked midtour from Asia when I finished college early), dropping the security barricades, and taking the people already posted there off danger pay only got worse after the embassy was bombed and my father killed. Then they sent the military in *but* told them it was not a war, and when our Marines were attacked, called it terrorism. No. It was poor generalship on our part and plain warfare on theirs.
Then we reopened the embassy. Then Hezbollah blew it up again. Terrorism is easier than war, and we made it easier still. But when it IS war, don't call it terrorism.


@Darren @Andy it's clearly the IRANIAN government, and not the U.S. government, that is to pay these damages, because Iran is the official sponsor of terror and is culpable in countless murders.


Not all families of the veterans support this.


It's great for the plaintiffs and their families that they finally have gotten some kind of justice. It must have heartbreaking for the family to suffer and wait so long for a judgement. It shows if there is an injustice that hasn't been resolved, no matter what should be pursued.

Darren McKinney

As a journalist in 1983 I covered and thus have respect for the families of some of our Marines killed by the bombing. But these lawsuits and their wholly symbolic damages awards must now be seen as nothing more than a waste of finite court resources, i.e., tax dollars.

Uncle Sam is broke, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar he spends. So as determined to seek "closure" as some of these otherwise sympathetic victims may be, it's time for them to move on with their lives after nearly 30 years. Judge Lamberth needs to move on, as well. Regardless of the chief judge's views on the virtues of such litigation, we simply can't afford it.

Andy Patterson

And, aren't the available funds for the non-punitive damages largely or nearly exhausted? These otherwise useful articles never explain that the judgments are largely symbolic and uncollectible.

jack molesworth

Who is supposed to pay these damages to the plaintiffs--the Government of Iran?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad