United States President Barack Obama has vetoed legislation that would allow Saudi Arabia to be sued by families of victims of the September 11 attacks.
The president said the bill would hurt US national security interests. Obama has now issued 12 vetoes during his eight-year stay at the White House.
Obama said in a statement that the bill could lead to lawsuits against US officials for actions by foreign groups that receive US aid, military equipment or training and would also hurt efforts to work with foreign allies on counter terrorism and related issues.
I feel deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously.
But Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress say they’ll override Obama’s veto next week. If successful, Congress’ override would be the first of Obama’s presidency.
In his veto message, Obama said he had “deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously.” Families of victims had protested three days ago asking the president to stay off the legislation.
BREAKING: Obama vetoes bill that would allow relatives of victims of Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 23, 2016
Days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) to thunderous applause.
The legislation was introduced six years ago with the laudable goal of enabling victims to sue alleged backers of 9/11 attackers, the Senate passed the bill back in May.
Major news outlets reported at the time that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had threatened to sell off up to $750 billion in US-based assets if Congress passed the then pending bill that would clear the way for lawsuits against the kingdom.
Even though the 9/11 commission found no evidence that Saudi Arabia had funded those behind the terrorists attack 15 years ago, victims have long alleged that Saudi Arabia, its agencies, and even private entities including banks and nonprofits, were behind the attacks. Courts have dismissed attempts to hold the kingdom responsible for its alleged support.
John Bolton, who served as the US Permanent Representative to the UN and as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security is reported by the Middle East Eye news portal to have also opposed the legislation.
“I know, of course, that Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are all tools and agents of the United States government, don’t you?” he quizzed.
“So by removing sovereign immunity and allowing plaintiffs in foreign countries who would like to sue us because they don’t like the colour of our eyes puts America far more at risk from this kind of action than Saudi Arabia is,” he added.