McConnell: Congress should discuss fixes to 9/11 law

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02 October, 2016

So Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leveled at least partial blame on Obama.

The White House slammed Congress for questioning the effects of a bill that would allow individuals to sue foreign governments after overriding President Obama's veto of the measure, saying that lawmakers were beginning to have "buyer's remorse" and saying that "ignorance is not an excuse".

The United States Congress has voted to overrule a presidential veto of a bill supported by families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

JASTA makes an exception to the principle of sovereign immunity when it comes to terrorist acts on USA soil. Fear was expressed that our relationship with Saudi Arabia would suffer if the families of victims filed lawsuits since the involvement of the Saudi government has never been proven to be true.

Philippe Sands, a law professor at University College London, says the consequences for global relations could be profound: "Some people will say, OK, if the USA is opening the door to cases against Saudi Arabia, why can't we open to the door to the United States?" A widely shared photo montage of USA military actions in Japan and Vietnam, plus naked Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, surfaced with the caption: "Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan can't wait for JASTA to be implemented so they can, in turn, prosecute the U.S". "By the time everybody seemed to focus on the potential consequences, members had already basically taken position", McConnell said, according to NBC News.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said he spoke to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Wednesday night and said the Saudis are interested in options for tweaking the law, something that couldn't happen until after the November election. Other lawmakers acknowledged that they didn't pay much attention to the bill.

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Relatives of those killed in 9/11 have welcomed the bill's passing.

Ryan conceded Congress should look for a "fix" to the new law to protect American service members from "legal problems" while serving overseas.

The delay in enacting the bill in addition to Congress' stalling in fixing the new law before it is brought into force suggests that congressmen have realised the potential impact the bill may have on United States interests overseas.

A foreign ministry source in Riyadh on September 29 called on Congress "to take the necessary measures to counter the disastrous and risky consequences" of the law. Many critics say the bill reinforces a long-held perception in the Middle East that the US only demands justice for its own victims of terrorism, despite decades of USA interventions around the world. What's more, a report of the House Intelligence Committee published earlier this year revealed evidence that 9/11 hijackers were either sponsored or connected to members of the Saudi Government.

Information for this article was contributed by Kathleen Hennessey and Aya Batrawy of The Associated Press.


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