U.S. Con­gress re­jects Oba­ma’s ve­to of 9/11 law­s­uit bill in first over­ri­de of pre­si­d­en­cy

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

USA - US Con­gress vo­t­ed on Wed­nes­day to over­ri­de Pre­si­dent Barack Oba­ma’s ve­to of a bill al­lo­wing fa­mi­lies of the vic­tims of the Sept. 11 ter­ror at­tacks to sue Sau­di Ara­bia. The vo­te hand­ed Oba­ma the first ve­to over­ri­de du­ring his ne­ar­ly eight-year pre­si­d­en­cy, de­a­ling a blow to the Whi­te Hou­se and high­ligh­ting the ad­mi­ni­stra­ti­on’s wa­ning sway over Con­gress du­ring Oba­ma’s last months in of­fi­ce.

The US Hou­se of Re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves vo­t­ed 34877 to over­ri­de the ve­to is­sued by Oba­ma last week, hours af­ter the Se­na­te vo­t­ed 97-1 in fa­vor of the over­ri­de, with Se­na­te Mi­no­ri­ty Le­a­der Har­ry Reid vo­ting so­le­ly to sustain the ve­to. The bill, na­med Jus­ti­ce Against Spon­sors of Ter­ro­rism Act (JAS­TA), now be­co­mes law des­pi­te the fier­ce op­po­si­ti­on from the Oba­ma Ad­mi­ni­stra­ti­on. Ma­ny law­ma­kers are re­luct­ant to op­po­se a bill sup­por­ted by fa­mi­lies of the Sept. 11 at­tacks vic­tims, as the elec­ti­on is just over a month away. “Over­ri­ding a presidential ve­to is so­me­thing we don’t ta­ke lightly,” said De­mo­cra­tic Se­na­tor Char­les Schu­mer, one of the chief spon­sors of the bill. “But it was im­por­tant in this ca­se that the fa­mi­lies of the vic­tims of 9/11 be al­lo­wed to pur­sue jus­ti­ce, even if that pur­s­uit cau­ses so­me di­plo­ma­tic dis­com­forts.” “This bill is about res­pec­ting the voi­ces and rights of Ame­ri­can vic­tims,” Re­pu­bli­can Se­na­tor Jo­hn Cor­nyn said. Fol­lo­wing the Se­na­te vo­te, Whi­te Hou­se spo­kes­man Josh Ear­nest slam­med the vo­te as “em­bar­ras­sing.” “This is the sin­gle most em­bar­ras­sing thing the Uni­ted Sta­tes Se­na­te has do­ne pos­si­bly sin­ce 1983,” Ear­nest told re­por­ters, re­fer­ring to Se­na­te’s overw­hel­ming over­ri­de of for­mer Pre­si­dent Ro­nald Re­a­gan’s ve­to of a land bill. “To ha­ve mem­bers of the Uni­ted Sta­tes Se­na­te on­ly re­cent­ly in­for­med of the ne­ga­ti­ve im­pact of this bill on our ser­vi­ce­mem­bers and our di­plo­mats is in itself em­bar­ras­sing,” he ad­ded. Oba­ma ve­toed the bill on Fri­day, ci­ting con­cerns that the bill “would be de­tri­men­tal to US national in­te­rests.”

“En­ac­ting JAS­TA in­to law, howe­ver, would nei­ther pro­tect Ame­ri­cans from ter­ro­rist at­tacks nor im­pro­ve the ef­fec­ti­ve­ness of our res­pon­se to such at­tacks,” Oba­ma said. Fa­mi­lies of the Sept. 11 vic­tims ha­ve been trying to sue the Sau­di roy­al fa­mi­ly, Sau­di banks and cha­ri­ties in US courts, on ground that the Sau­di govern­ment pro­vi­ded fi­nan­ci­al sup­port for ter­ro­rism. Osa­ma bin La­den, the mas­ter­mind of the Sept. 11, 2001 ter­ror at­tacks which kil­led ne­ar­ly 3,000 pe­o­p­le in New York, Washington D.C. area and Pen­n­syl­vania, was a weal­thy Sau­di national. But the fa­mi­lies’ ef­forts ha­ve lar­ge­ly been sty­mied, in part be­cau­se of a 1976 law that gi­ves fo­reign na­ti­ons so­me im­mu­ni­ty from law­s­uits in Ame­ri­can courts. The JAS­TA has al­rea­dy drawn strong cri­ti­cism from the Sau­di govern­ment, a clo­se US part­ner in figh­ting ter­ro­rism in the Midd­le East, which has de­nied any role in the plot of the 2001 ter­ror at­tacks. Sau­di Ara­bia has al­so th­re­a­ten­ed to sell off hund­reds of bil­li­ons of dol­lars’ worth of Ame­ri­can as­sets held by the king­dom if the US pas­ses and en­acts the bill.

(Xin­hu­a­net.com)

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