Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the peoplepeaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
President Obama has until Friday September 23 to decide if he will veto a bill which would allow the 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia.
On Friday September 9, the House of Representatives passed a controversial resolution which would allow victims of terrorism and their families to sue nations suspected of financing or otherwise sponsoring terrorism. Currently, this is only legal for countries that are on the U.S. government’s “state sponsors of terror” list, which includes nations like North Korea and Iran. The new change would allow the 9/11 victims’ family members to sue nations like Saudi Arabia.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, unanimously passed the Senate in May after a hard-fought battle by the families of the victims of 9/11. However, President Barack Obama is expected to veto the bill. The U.S. Senate sent the bill to Obama on Monday September 12 and he still has 4 days to veto the measure. This means that if Obama does not act by September 23 the bill would automatically become law. Presidents also have a constitutionally delegated “ pocket veto” which can defeat a bill just by holding onto it until Congress is out of session. If supporters can gather a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House they could override Obama’s veto.
If JASTA does indeed become law it would open the door to lawsuits from the victims of 9/11 and their families against Saudi Arabia. A coalition of activists, researchers and family members have long questioned Saudi links to the attacks on 9/11. They believed the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 would implicate Saudi nationals or even the Saudi government in financing, executing, or planning the terrorist attacks.
However, when those pages were finally released in July, Saudi government officials hailed the declassified content as proof that the kingdom had no role in the attacks. Former Sen. Bob Graham, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee who had been extensively involved in the fight to release the pages, disagreed.
“The information in the 28 pages reinforces the belief that the 19 hijackers — most of whom spoke little English, had limited education and had never before visited the United States — did not act alone in perpetrating the sophisticated 9/11 plot,” Graham told CNN when the pages were released.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Graham wrote that questions surrounding the Saudi government’s assistance of terrorists remain unanswered.
The release of the 28 pages suggested “new trails of inquiry worth following, including why a Qaeda operative had the unlisted phone number for the company that managed the Colorado estate of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador.” He called for the declassification of more findings of the 9/11 Commission and details of parallel investigations conducted by the FBI and CIA to answer questions like: “How much did they look into whether Prince Bandar or other Saudis aided the hijackers?”
Some might ask, 15 years later, what difference does all this make?
In fact, a lot. It can mean justice for the families that have suffered so grievously. It can also mean improving our national security, which has been compromised by the extreme form of Islam that has been promoted by Saudi Arabia.
But the most important reason is to avoid the corrosive effect that government secrecy can have on a democracy. The nation that denies its people information about what it is doing in their name is a nation slogging down a dark alley of public suspicion toward decline and mediocrity.
Despite the calls from the 9/11 families and bi-partisan support from the House and Senate, the Obama Administration has no interest in supporting the bill. Last Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that he anticipates a veto from Obama.
“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,” Earnest said.
The White House claims that allowing the 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia will endanger American lives and that it would leave U.S. officials open to lawsuits from other nations. Perhaps, this is because the government is filled with criminals? This is how you know the “Never Forget” mantra is simply propaganda. The powers-that-wish-they-were would love for the peasants to have a blind, jingoistic, unquestioning view of 9/11. “Just wave your flag and say ‘Never Forget 9/11’ like a good American.”
Now, more than ever, it is imperative that you stand up and question 9/11, challenge the government’s narrative, and support the 9/11 families in their fight for truth and justice.
Giving you the right knowledge in the most dangerous times,