Five days after President Barack Obama vetoed the Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, the Senate voted 97-1 to override the veto on Sept. 28.
The act will allow victims of 9/11 and their families to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged involvement in the attack which, the president asserts, is a mistake.
Obama’s primary reason for choosing to veto the act was his belief that it would open the U.S. to similar lawsuits.
The president told CNN that, “The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families.
It has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world. If you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that’s a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do.”
The JASTA specifically allows victims of terrorism to sue countries that sponsor or support terrorism, even if that country is not a designated or public sponsor of terrorism. Here lies the potential threat for America.
If other countries were to invoke a similar policy, the “work that we’re doing all around the world,” as Obama puts it, could be misinterpreted or somehow tied to funding of military or terrorist attacks.
The United States is a major power with involvement in conflicts internationally. Tragedies like 9/11 happen every day in some parts of the world, and the idea that an entire country that denies involvement in attacks can be taken to court by individuals could spell trouble for America whose military seems to span across all corners of the world.
Take the US-led airstrike against ISIS that killed approximately 73 Syrian civilians in July as an example.
Should the American people not be concerned about Syrian individual’s suing the country over attacks like those?
Of course not, because they’re not as fortunate to even consider a lawsuit during a war.
Obama noted that no one wants to
vote against 9/11 families, because 9/11 is considered a great tragedy, the great tragedy.
Yet, the American people expect sympathy and outrage from others regarding 9/11, but are comfortably numb to the tragedies of other countries which endure frequent horrors that measure up to that of the 9/11 attacks.
This ignorance towards how their country’s experience with terrorism measures up to others allows a bill like this to be passed, which basically says that the terrorism that America has experienced is unjust and they should be allowed to seek justice against all other countries, as though there is no blood on the United States hands or no country competent enough—or first world enough—to demand justice in a similar way.