News

U.S.

House Passes Measure Allowing Access to Iranian Funds to Families of Over 200 Marines Killed in Terror Attack

Emergency crews search for survivors after the attack against U. S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, October 23, 1983. (USMC)

The House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan measure freeing up access to over a billion dollars in Iranian funds for the families of over 200 U.S. Marines killed during an Iran-backed terror attack in 1983.

The Our Obligation to Recognize American Heroes (OORAH) Act passed in a 397 to 31 vote Wednesday evening as an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act.

On October 23, 1983, two suicide bombers with the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah detonated two truck bombs, one at the Marine base in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American soldiers as well as French military personnel and several civilians.

The legislation, sponsored by Vice President Mike Pence’s brother, Indiana congressman Greg Pence, makes $1.68 billion in Iranian government assets kept in the Luxembourg-based bank Clearstream available as “compensatory damages” to the families of the victims.

“I served my country as a United State Marine, and I understand what it takes to keep our nation safe,” Representative Pence told National Review. “This is the least we can do for the families of those brave 241 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country.”

The legislation is deeply personal for Pence since he was stationed in Beirut just days before the deadly attack.

“I was lucky. My battalion shipped out 10 days before the bombing,” Pence said during remarks on the House floor Tuesday. “I was able to come home to my wife, who was expecting our first child, and my family in Columbus. I told myself I would never forget those men.”

Greg Pence (center) with fellow Marines, fall 1983 (Courtesy Greg Pence)

“This legislation will help victims and their families obtain just a small amount of justice,” he added in a statement.

Several court judgments have found Iran responsible for the terror attack and ordered Iran pay restitution to the families, but the orders have proven difficult to enforce. The measure amends the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 to permit the family members of the victims to execute on the funds.

Pence, a Republican, was joined by Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona in introducing the bipartisan measure. A sister piece of legislation was introduced in the Senate by another group of bipartisan lawmakers, Republican senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio as well as Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse, Doug Jones, and Jacky Rosen of Nevada.

The measure come amid increasingly acrimonious relations between the U.S. and Iran.

Iranian officials said last month that new U.S. sanctions mean “closing the doors of diplomacy” between the two countries.

Most Popular

Culture

‘Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself’

It was just one more segment to fill out the hour, and thereby fill the long 24 hours of Saturday’s cable news on November 2. Or so it seemed. Navy SEAL Mike Ritland was on the Fox News program Watters World to talk to Jesse Watters about trained German shepherds like the one used in the raid that found ... Read More
Film & TV

The Manly Appeal of Ford v Ferrari

There used to be a lot of overlap between what we think of as a Hollywood studio picture (designed to earn money) and an awards movie (designed to fill the trophy case, usually with an accompanying loss of money). Ford v Ferrari is a glorious throwback to the era when big stars did quality movies about actual ... Read More
White House

Impeachment Theater of Trolls

As a boy, I used to watch a television show with a weekly gag titled “MasterJoke Theatre.” A pompous egghead smoked a pipe in a leather-bound chair in a richly appointed library, told a joke, and got a pie in the face for his trouble. What the Democrats launched on the Hill this week is their own variant, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

ABC Chief Political Analyst: GOP Rep. Stefanik a ‘Perfect Example’ of the Failures of Electing Someone ‘Because They Are a Woman’

Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst for ABC News, suggested that Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) was elected due to her gender after taking issue with Stefanik's line of questioning during the first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday. “Elise Stefanik is a perfect example of why just electing ... Read More