9/11 victims families allowed to Sue Saudi Arabia after Congress overrides Obama's veto

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Saudi Arab
Thursday, 29 September 2016


Barack Obama suffered a unique political blow on Wednesday, when the US Congress overturned his veto of a bill that would allow families of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

 

The overwhelming bipartisan vote in both the Senate and House inflicted the first veto override of Obama’s presidency, less than four months before he leaves office. The White House issued an unusually scathing response.

“I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today.”

Obama expressed disappointment. “The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families, it has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world, and suddenly finding ourselves subject to the private lawsuits in courts where we don’t even know exactly whether they’re on the up and up, in some cases,” he told CNN.

“So this is a dangerous precedent and it’s an example of why sometimes you have to do what’s hard. And, frankly, I wish Congress here had done what’s hard. I didn’t expect it, because if you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that’s a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do.”

The legislation will permit courts to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurs inside US borders, according to the terms of the bill. Saudi Arabia has objected strongly to the legislation and has categorically denied any role in the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 plane hijackers were Saudi nationals.

The measure passed the Senate and House unanimously in May and September, but Obama vetoed it last Friday, claiming it would make the US vulnerable to retaliatory litigation in foreign courts that could put American troops in legal jeopardy. Proponents of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) insist that it is narrowly tailored and applies only to acts of terrorism that occur on US soil.

Many senators and representatives are also reluctant to oppose an emotive, popular measure and be seen as soft on terrorism with elections just weeks away.

The Senate voted 97-1, with the Democratic minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, alone in supporting the veto. The House followed suit a short time later, voting 348-77 to override and putting Congress directly at odds with the White House and national security establishment.

Rating: 5 Read 295 times Last modified on Thursday, 29 September 2016

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