Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2001. After 15 years, Americans are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously approved bi-partisan legislation that would allow for families of the victims of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, now moves to the House of Representatives. The bill is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives as well. Thereafter, it would be landed on Obama’s desk.
However, a White House spokesman said President Obama had serious concerns about the bill, and it was difficult to imagine he would sign it into law. The president is expected to veto the bill, as he has repeatedly threatened. But if miraculously Obama decides to sign it, it would allow victims’ families to sue any member of the government of Saudi Arabia thought to have played a role in any element of the attack.
Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the 9/11 plot, and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” However, the commission’s narrow wording has since created conspiracy theories about a massive cover-up.
The conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry have created more suspicions than answers, primarily because the 28 pages of the report is still a secretuntil today, leading to speculations that the U.S. government had deliberately covered some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot.
Luckily to the Saudi, under the current US law, foreign nations have a degree of immunity from being sued in American courts. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 is one of the reasons why families of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks largely failed to bring to court the Saudi royal family and charities over suspicion of financially supporting the attacks.
Still, the fact remains that 15 out of the 19 hijackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens. Ironically, scapegoat Iran was found guilty instead. Two months ago, US District Judge George Daniels in New York ordered Iran to pay overUS$10 billion in damages to families of victims, despite the fact that NONE of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Iranian citizens.
Tehran was ordered to pay US$7.5 billion to 9/11 victims’ families, including US$2 million to each victim’s estate for pain and suffering, and another US$6.88 million in punitive damages. Iran basically called the ruling absurd because Judge Daniels simply delivered the guilty verdict after he found thatIran failed to defend itself against claims that it played a role in 9/11.
The 9/11 Commission Report stated that some of the hijackers went through Iran but did not have their passports stamped there, suggesting the regime may have had knowledge about the attacks. But if Iran could be convicted with such excuse, what more with 15 out of the 19 hijackers being Saudi citizens?
If Saudi is clean as it has been claiming, there’s absolutely no reason for the kingdom to fear, let alone blackmail the U.S. government of selling off up to US$750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they face a danger of being frozen by American courts. Even then, theSaudi was cheating about the U.S. debt they’re holding.
Perhaps the U.S. thought they have had enough of Saudi’s decades of blackmailing. So, the Treasury Department finally released a breakdown of Saudi Arabia’s holdings of U.S. debt, after keeping the figures secret for more than 40 years. When the figures were released 2-day ago, it turns out thatSaudi held only US$116.8 billion of U.S. debt as of March, 2016.
That’s a pathetic fraction of what China and Japan are holding. If Saudi can threaten America with US$116.8 billion of U.S. debt, imagine what China can do with its US$1,300 billion (US$1.3 trillion) of U.S. debt. And surely Japan, who has US$1.1 trillion of U.S. debt, can force President Barack Obama to apologize for dropping atom bomb when he visits Hiroshima later.
JASTA would remove the sovereign immunity – The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 – preventing lawsuits against governments, for countries found to be involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It would allow survivors of the attacks, and relatives of those killed in the attacks, to seek damages from other countries.
Does it make sense for the bill to become law? Of course it does – imagine any government in the world can actually sponsor a similar 9/11 attacks on the United States, anytime they like, and get away scot free. JASTA does not target Saudi alone but other countries or governments with intention of terrorism. -