2016 marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks where 19 Islamic terrorists organized a calculated assault against the United States that killed over 3000 Americans. 15 of those 19 terrorists were citizens of Saudi Arabia.
In an act of defiance against the Obama administration, the House of Representatives used a voice-vote that would enable victims of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia over 15 years later.
The Senate also overwhelmingly passed the bill by a voice vote back in May. But the Obama administration has argued that it would complicate the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and he warned the Senate and House not to proceed with such a bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked about the pushback and the decision to move forward with the bill and he responded by saying,
“this bill passed overwhelmingly by the US Senate so I think that those concerns have been taken under consideration and members are acting accordingly and that’s why this bill will pass.”
The White House had no comment on Friday’s events, but after the Senate passed the bill in May, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said:
“It’s difficult to imagine the President signing this legislation. I know that the advocates of this legislation have suggested that they have taken into account our concerns by more narrowly tailoring the legislation.
But, unfortunately, their efforts were not sufficient to prevent the longer-term, unintended consequences that we are concerned about. This legislation would change longstanding international law regarding sovereign immunity.
And the President of the United States continues to harbor serious concerns that this legislation would make the United States vulnerable in other court systems around the world.”
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia dismissed the White House’s advocacy of diplomacy and said that international acts of terrorism should be exempt in terms of legal liability. Goodlatte said,
“we can no longer allow those who injure and kill Americans to hide behind legal loopholes, denying justice to the victims of terrorism.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, added to Goodlatte’s comment,
“There are always diplomatic considerations that get in the way of justice, but if a court proves the Saudis were complicit in 9/11, they should be held accountable. If they’ve done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about.”
Of course, the nation of Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the horrific attacks. The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-jubeir, threatened the United States that if the bill became law, the country would sell all of their U.S. assets valued at over 750 billion dollars.
How audacious is Saudi Arabia’s leadership to make such an ancillary monetary threat? What it sounds like is that Saudi Arabia unequivocally has something to hide from the United States and will do anything to keep it buried, and that includes misleading the White House into a false sense of diplomatic relations.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas—co-sponsor of the bill—said in a statement,
“today’s vote sends an unmistakable message that we should combat terrorism with every tool we have, and that the families of those lost in attacks like that on September 11th should have every means at their disposal to seek justice.”
Ironically, the co-sponsors of the bill are being diplomatic with the White House, because the Obama administration holds the veto power – John Conyers, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, said on Friday,
“I remain hopeful that we can continue to work with the Administration so we can resolve these issues so the legislation can be signed into law by the president.”
But at this point, it seems as though the administration is intentionally ignoring the requests to initiate some sort of common ground.
Do you support the new bill? How do you think we should handle Saudi Arabia and the Obama administration? Tell us in the comments below!