“It’s very simple. If the Saudis were culpable, they should be held accountable. If they had nothing to do with 9/11, they have nothing to fear,” -Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), on the Floor of the Senate, 9/28/2016
The moment that Americans have been longing for the past 8 years finally happened yesterday.
Congress grew a spine.
The New York Times reports that
Congress on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to override a veto by President Obama for the first time, passing into law a bill that would allow the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot.
Democrats in large numbers joined with Republicans to deliver a remarkable rebuke to the president. The 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and the 348-to-77 vote in the House displayed the enduring power of the Sept. 11 families in Washington and the diminishing influence here of the Saudi government.
The new law, enacted over the fierce objections of the White House, immediately alters the legal landscape. American courts could seize Saudi assets to pay for any judgment obtained by the Sept. 11 families, while Saudi officials have warned they might need to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in holdings in the United States to avoid such an outcome.
The override comes at an already freighted moment in America’s relations with the kingdom. The Saudi government has vigorously denied that it had any part in the Sept. 11 attacks, and the commission investigating the plot found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al Qaeda, the terror group that carried out the attacks. But the commission left open the possibility that some Saudi officials may have played roles.
Mr. Obama angrily denounced the outcome, saying lawmakers had been swayed to cast a political vote for legislation that set a “dangerous precedent” with implications they did not understand and never debated.
“I think it was a mistake, and I understand why it happened,” Mr. Obama said at a CNN town hall-style meeting with military personnel in Fort Lee, Va. “It’s an example of why sometimes, you have to do what’s hard, and frankly, I wish Congress here had done what’s hard. I didn’t expect it, because 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.”
There were swift complications. Within hours of their vote, nearly 30 senators signed a letter expressing some reservations about the potential consequences of the law, including the prospect that the United States could face lawsuits in foreign courts “as a result of important military or intelligence activities.”
The White House and some lawmakers were already plotting how they could weaken the law in the near future, although there was general pessimism on Wednesday that Congress would agree to any changes. “You got to find consensus,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, after the vote. “Then you need a vehicle.”
It is unclear whether the Saudis will make good on warnings that the kingdom could unload hundreds of billions of dollars worth of assets inside the United States, and some economists have said that such a sell-off would do far more damage to Saudi Arabia’s economy than America’s.
But legal experts say there is cause for concern in Riyadh.
The law allows families of the Sept. 11 victims to alter lawsuits already underway — or file new suits — to directly sue Saudi Arabia and to demand documents and other evidence. It amends a 1976 law that grants foreign countries broad immunity from American lawsuits. Now nations can be sued in federal court if they are found to have played any role in terrorist attacks that killed Americans on United States soil.
“From there, the ball goes squarely into the Obama administration’s court,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
As Mr. Vladeck noted, a little-discussed provision of the bill allows the attorney general to intervene in the lawsuits and get a judge to stay any settlement as long as there are continuing discussions with the Saudis about a possible resolution.
The provision was added earlier this year to soften the legislation — preserving the executive branch’s purview over foreign policy while still giving family members a path to sue.
But the prospects of such discussions ever beginning are uncertain. The Saudi government has long denied any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and any negotiation with the United States could be viewed as acknowledging culpability.
At the same time, lawyers for the families will no doubt push for judges to carefully scrutinize any attempt by the attorney general to delay court proceedings.
“The families would of course expect that in the event the provision is invoked, that the courts exercise their inherent authority to assure good faith negotiations are in fact taking place and that the courts not simply rubber stamp executive branch requests for delay in resolution of their claims,” said Allan Gerson, who is part of a team representing many of the Sept. 11 families.
Mr. Gerson filed a lawsuit against Libya on behalf of families of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which was brought down by a bomb as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
In recent days, Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all wrote letters to Congress warning of the dangers of overriding the veto.
What happened here is that the professional politicians in the Senate and the House of Representatives saw their chances of holding on to their phony baloney jobs greatly diminished if they sided with the dhimmi President against the families of the victims of those Saudi Nationals, who committed the worst act of Terrorism ever seen on American Soil, when they slaughtered over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.
It’s an example of why sometimes, you have to do what’s hard, and frankly, I wish Congress here had done what’s hard.
So, let’s talk about “doing what’s hard”.
You know what is “hard”, Mr. President?
Hard is burying a child…or a grandchild.
Step back from your incessant pandering to the Followers of Mohammed for a moment and attempt to feel the pain, which is still as real as that horrible day over 15 years ago, when over 3,00 American lives were mercilessly ended and, exponentially, tens of thousands of other American Lives irreversibly and helplessly changed forever.
Someone should be held responsible for the tremendous pain that is now an intrinsic part of the daily lives of so many American Families, don’t you think?
Now, I don’t expect a lot to happen out of these potential lawsuits.
However, if it makes those Saudis who funded those al Qaeda Members who savagely murdered all of those Americans on that fateful day, worry about losing some of their vast fortunes and makes them understand that they cannot sponsor Islamic Terrorist Acts with impunity, expecting to pay no consequences, then it is undoubtedly worth the effort.
And, you know something, President Obama?
If you had put America First during your poorly managed and executed Presidency, you might not be so worried about “potential repercussions” from these lawsuits.
Instead of delivering a “Message to the Muslim World” at the University of Cairo in July of 2009, perhaps you should have delivered a “Message to Americans” extoling OUR Country and the Faith which founded it.
Then, perhaps, this “mistake” as your Administration has referred to it, may have never happened.
But, that would have required a President who actually loves American and all of its citizens.
Until He Comes,