As the Obama administration and the Saudi government lobby Congress to prevent an override of the president’s promised veto of a bill that would enable 9/11 lawsuits against the kingdom, family members are organizing a White House protest of that veto for this Tuesday.
9/11 family members, survivors and other concerned citizens will convene near the White House at Lafayette Square on Tuesday, September 20 at 12:30 pm and organizers are arranging for bus transportation. If you can join them, you’re encouraged to sign up at passJASTA.org (whether you need transportation or not).
Effort to Kill 9/11 Bill Quietly Strengthens
The bill at the center of this controversy is the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which has now passed both the Senate and House via unanimous voice votes. President Obama has until Friday, September 23 to veto the measure, and appears likely to use all of that time to lobby lawmakers against overriding him.
With Congress poised to go on a lengthy election-season recess, the delay could also prevent the override vote from happening until much later this year, when legislators won’t face voter retaliation if they help Obama kill the measure.
The New York Times reported yesterday that “already, cracks are showing, even among Republicans who generally would love to exercise the first veto override against Mr. Obama.” One of those wavering Republicans is Tennessee senator Bob Corker, who told the Times that passing the law would encourage other countries to reciprocate, exposing the U.S. government to suits filed by family members of innocent victims of U.S. drone strikes.
Since he isn’t up for re-election this year, Corker is a logical point man for Republicans who are sympathetic to the administration’s drive to kill the bill. Corker has also supported Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-facilitated war in Yemen, which is creating mass suffering among Yemen’s population while strengthening al-Qaeda’s position in the country.
In July, 28 long-classified pages from a 2002 congressional intelligence inquiry into 9/11 were declassified. They catalog dozens of inter-connections between Saudi government employees, suspected intelligence operatives, al-Qaeda associates and individuals who aided the 9/11 hijackers. Some of the most important revelations concerned the then-Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
9/11 Commission’s Bob Kerrey Supports JASTA
In a piece for The Hill yesterday, former senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey fully endorsed JASTA, declaring that “signing this bill into law will be an act of justice and will help make the United States homeland a safer place to live.”
He also refuted repeated claims by the Obama administration and the Saudi kingdom that the 9/11 Commission report is evidence of Saudi Arabia’s innocence. “This is not true. It is true that the Commission did not conclude that the Saudis were guilty but we most definitely did not conclude that they were not involved. In fact there was considerable evidence suggesting just the opposite,” wrote Kerrey.