9/9/2016 – As reported by Middle East Eye today, “The House of Representatives passed legislation Friday that would allow victims of the 9/11 attacks and their relatives to sue foreign governments suspected of backing acts of terrorism against the United States.”
This is a first of its kind legislation inside the United States, but it comes in correlation with a Supreme Court decisions this past April which upheld legal grounds for US citizens to hold foreign government accountable for damages resulting from terror attacks throughout history.
In a 6-to-2 decision, the court said Congress had not exceeded its constitutional role in enacting a statute to make it easier for the plaintiffs to recover damages that had been awarded to them in a series of lawsuits.
The cases were brought by the families of Americans killed in terrorist attacks found to have been sponsored by Iran, including relatives of those who died in the 1983 Marine Corps barracks bombing in Lebanon. That attack killed 241 servicemen.“
The important thing to remember is that Iran is sovereign country of its own, it does not have to abide by US laws or listen to their courts.
In response to the Supreme Court decision in the US, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said to Russia Today: “We will soon take the case of the $2 billion to the international court, we will not allow the United States to swallow this money so easily. Iran will take this case to the International Court in the near future and will not spare any effort towards the restoration of the nation’s rights through legal, political and banking channels.”
About a month after the Supreme Court ruling May 10, 2016, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money. It is a theft. Huge theft.”
Iran announced they would counter sue the United States for years of “persecution” against their country including trade bans, embargo’s and other economic sanctions which negatively effected the lives of millions of Iranian citizens. Iran also argues they would have the legal grounds to do so, given precedents the US court systems are now establishing.
Where Did Iran Get This Idea From?
On August 16, 2016, 4 days prior to Supreme Court decision and a month before Iran threatened to sue the US government, Saudi Arabia entered itself into the discussion. The Saudi government warned the United States that if they went ahead and followed through with the 9/11 bill, that they would sell off all US assets.
Saudi Arabia was on high alert at the time as a result of the hidden pages of the 9/11 report – which Congress had been demanding be declassified and public knowledge.
No one knew what information the missing 28 pages held, but many of the top analysts/pundits believed it would indicate Saudi Arabia role in the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. If this information was true and the 9/11 bill went into effect, it would open the door for 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia as well.
As you can see, the United States is setting a dangerous precedent here. Even though it sounds like a victory for relief to some of the victims of these attacks, if the US can sue Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia can sue the US.
Take it to a bigger picture maybe this means Libya or Iraq could sue the US for their role in the recent history of the country. If the US does indeed follow through on this, it is all but a guarantees countries will do so to the same to the US.
The US is often accused of seeing itself as the worlds police following the conclusion of WW2 and the country has developed a negative reputation for this abroad. Whether you think this is true or not, the American military and government has had their hands in a lot of global affairs across the last number of decades and not all of them have gone well.
Does The US Really Want To Open That Door?
Earlier today the Associated Press announced Obama’s disapproval of the US Senate decisions and has hinted he may veto the bill.
Once again this decision boils down to political party lines. Obama and the Democrats have attempted to strengthen their relationship with countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. Over the last few years we have worked with Saudi Arabia in a military campaign in Yemen and lifted decades old sanctions on Iran.
The Republicans do not necessarily oppose our military cooperation with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, but they fiercely oppose Obama’s work with Iran. Republicans also generally criticize Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, for having close business relationships with partners in Saudi Arabia.
Republicans also believe in compensating the victims of terror attacks with money from the countries that perpetrated the acts – hence the decision today. The Republicans have owned control of the House and Senate since the elections of 2014, anything they want to pass the can pass. This includes the 9/11 bill today.
Obama also has the freedom to strike down the law with his veto pen, something he has done regular basis since 2014. Obama and the Democrats see the 9/11 bill is a step backwards in the relationship building process we have established with these countries – it is best to move on from history.
It remains to be seen where this issue goes from here, but it will be interesting to find out.
This article (The US House of Representatives Passed The Controversial “9/11 Bill” Today. Iran Has Long Since Threatened To Counter-Sue and Saudi Arabia Has Threatened To Dump 750$ Billion In US Assets If It Ever Did.) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4.