Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives, following the lead of the Senate, passed a bill allowing Americans to sue Saudi Arabia over 9/11. When the bill made it to the President’s desk, however, Obama quickly showed his loyalty to Saudi Arabia and vetoed it. However, that was only the beginning of the rollercoaster.
Days after his despicable veto, the Senate stepped up and overwhelmingly voted to override it.
The reason the for the veto was obvious as this bill would, in theory, open up a venue and allow lawsuits against the U.S. for alleged sponsorship of terrorist activities in their own countries – a Pandora’s Box that President Obama, and the CIA most certainly do not want to open with the world watching. However, it appears, for now, that Pandora’s Box is open.
The lobbyist group Arab Project in Iraq now sees their opportunity to ask for compensation from the United States over violations by US forces following the invasion of Iraq that saw the toppling of late President Saddam Hussein in 2003, according to a report from Al-Arabiya News.
The group is pushing for “a full-fledged investigation over the killing of civilians targets, loss of properties and individuals who suffered torture and other mistreatment on the hand of US forces.”
While many states have criticized JASTA for its potential of eroding the principle of sovereign immunity and changing international law, this immunity has been used by Saudi Arabia, who was found to have aided and abetted the 9/11 highjackers, to shield themselves from any and all accountability.
The lobbyist group Arab Project in Iraq is the first to take advantage of this bill against the US, but the implications for further accountability for unjust wars are only beginning to be realized.
Former Sen. Larry Pressler, defendant in a U.S. court on charges of terrorism in Vietnam, fear mongered last week that this bill could make him vulnerable for the illegal and murderous Vietnam war. Pressler explained his concern in an op-ed at the Hill.
As a Vietnam combat veteran, I could almost certainly be sued by the Vietnamese government or by a Vietnamese citizen. The Gulf War, Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans are more protected by constitutional congressional actions, but we Vietnam veterans will be raw targets if Americans can sue Saudi Arabia.
Instead of questioning the nature of illegal wars themselves, this former senator, and many like him, want to hide behind the protection of the very state who waged that war.
If you kill innocent people — you deserve no immunity.
This notion has already been publicly debated after World War II. In 1945 and 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials, the issue of superior orders arose. Before the end of World War II, the Allies suspected such a defense might be employed and issued the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which explicitly stated that following an unlawful order is not a valid defense against charges of war crimes.
Again, if you killed innocent people for the state — you deserve no immunity.
While JASTA will allow families of victims of 9/11 to overcome the current restrictions barring them from suing foreign governments, the new section of the bill, added at the last minute, would essentially allow the heads of the Justice and State departments to stay any lawsuits indefinitely. The inserted provisions allow for organizational heads to simply “inform the judge hearing the case that the US government has engaged with Riyadh in diplomatic talks to resolve the issue.” Additionally, the attorney general can petition the court for an extension of the stay for “additional 180-day periods,” effectively delaying lawsuits against the Saudis indefinitely.
In spite of this loophole, however, the first suit against Saudi Arabia was filed Friday in a Washington D.C. court on behalf of Stephanie Ross DeSimone, her 14-year-old daughter, Alexandra, and her husband’s estate. The suit alleges that “At all material times, Saudi Arabia, through its officials, officers, agents and employees, provided material support and resources to Osama bin Laden (“bin Laden”) and Al Qaeda.”
The complaint, which was filed on 30 September and is available to view online states that “Al Qaeda’s ability to conduct large-scale terrorist attacks was the direct result of the support Al Qaeda received from its material sponsors and supporters, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
As the lawsuits mount, those responsible for the violent atrocities across the globe are running scared. In fact, the Saudis have been on the defensive. A bombshell report by the New York Times in April revealed that Saudi Arabia, the third largest holder of U.S. Treasury bills in the world behind China and Japan, has warned the Obama administration and Congress that they will begin liquidating their U.S. assets if Congress passes a bill allowing for the Saudi government to be held responsible for their role in the terror attacks of 9/11.
While the Saudis have yet to come true on their blackmailing threat, there is still plenty of time for them to do so.
As the warmongering hypocrites fear monger about being held accountable, the families of victims are finally seeing a semblance of justice that decades of war, torture, rights violations, and the creation of the world’s largest police state never gave them.