On September 9th, Congress unanimously passed a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims the right to sue the Saudi Arabian government. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, President Obama is expected to veto.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was urged into law by a group of families who lost loved ones in 9/11. In a collective letter to the President they wrote: “…we anguish especially as we witness the spread of the poisonous ideology that is determined to ensure that 9/11 was only the beginning.”
The families who have been attempting to have this bill passed for a decade seek a sense of closure and justice that such a lawsuit and the corresponding investigation might provide.
The Saudi government has formally denied any connection to the attacks. However, of the 19 men involved in the attacks 15 were Saudi nationals, and many have pointed to potential links between some of the hijackers and Saudi officials.
Saudi Arabia and the United States have a long history of being allies. America has sold arms to the Saud’s for years. Currently, the Obama administration has proposed a sale of $1 billion in arms to the Saudi’s. The kingdom is also one of the U.S.’s leading oil trade partners.
Despite increasing congressional disapproval of the alliance with Saudi Arabia, the Obama camp has argued that such a bill would increase litigation on U.S. citizens and the government. Dating back to 1976 other nations have been granted immunity from American lawsuits, and this shift in US foreign policy could prove to be self-destructive. Josh Earnest, an Obama spokesperson, said: “It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world. I do anticipate the president would veto this legislation when it is presented to him.”