Does the American congress really want to go there?
Barak Obama recently made the decision to use his presidential veto power for a bill intended to allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. I have full sympathy for the families of victims, but I thought that was a pretty good call by the president.
Well, not according to the combined houses of parliament which actually overwhelmingly overturned this veto- it’s a complex system over there isn’t it?
I am not sure how much evidence the US has that Saudi Arabia (and how much of it they would want to share in open court doe to not wanting to reveal intelligence assets and capabilities) directly funded terrorism, but even if they had some pretty strong and compelling evidence, I am not sure this is the way forward.
Obama described the landslide vote against him as populist, as much of the commentary from senators and congressmen was that 9/11 victims and their families deserved their day in court to seek justice. I understand these people want a chance to be heard, but like I said about Sarah Paino’s family, victims never really get justice through the court system or any other way. A court ruling will not undo the damage, even if financial compensation can allay some of the financial burdens.
But will victims receive financial compensation through this process? Will Saudi Arabia cooperate? It may be argued that America has political leverage on its Middle-Eastern ally and could compel the Saudi government to participate in legal proceedings and abide by their findings, but the relationship is a little more complex and symbiotic than that.
Even more problematically, If American citizens can sue foreign governments for 9/11 does that mean Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian citizens can sue the American government? There would be an awful lot lining up to do so. Let alone every other country the CIA has sponsored despotic rulers or insurgencies (that local governments might have called terrorists)!
I don’t write this as a critique of American foreign policy. Far from it, I appreciate it is easy to be critical with 20/20 hindsight. But I do think they could have better considered this bill in the historical context of last 70 years.
There is a saying about people who live in glass houses…