Today President Obama lost a veto override and now, 9/11 victims can sue Saudi Arabia.  A lot of blame is being placed on the proximity to Election Day, and how no one wants to be seen as being soft on terrorism just before votes get cast…

The original vote and over-ride were overwhelming… Originally passed unanimously in the Senate, and with one dissenting vote on the over-ride, the bipartisanship on this bill in this Congress, is amazing.

They can’t agree on something good, but they can all agree on something bad?

Obviously on the surface there is some feel good benefit to making Saudi Arabia suffer in court because we had to suffer in real life.  There is a sense of justice behind that…

But what is so amazing about the myopia of this Congress is that they don’t look outside their four walls when making this decision…

When you go against a tradition and smash it down, others will do the same… Which eventually means that what once protected you… now protects you no more…

The legislation will permit courts to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurs inside US borders, according to the terms of the bill. But it would make the US vulnerable to retaliatory litigation in foreign courts that could put American troops in legal jeopardy.

If an American GI even allegedly rapes what he thought was a hooker, he has no protection even if based on a military base.  The laws of that land prevail..  We could have public stonings of US soldiers ordered by courts because of this. One more kink in making the world run smooth.  Furthermore if called upon to defend oneself under fire, the victims of those bullets can now sue him personally for just doing his job. These lawsuits can now come even if brought forth on the flimsiest of evidence… Even false evidence would be enough.

This too effectively will end our drone policy.  For if we are allowed to sue an Arab nation who had some of its nationals bring down 4 airplanes… how can a nation like Yeman, Somalia , Syria, and Iraq, not be tempted to sue us when the military forces of our state itself, commit terrorism on their soil with collateral damage hurting women, children, and first responders…

Someone who should have know better, Senator Bob Corker (R TN), chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, said “With tremendous reservations and concerns about where this legislation is going to lead us, with tremendous empathy towards the victims that have lived through so much, have seen loved ones gone, that has affected their lives and will affect their lives for the long term, I’m going to support passage of this legislation today, but I do so understanding that there could be in fact unintended consequences that work against our national interest and with a determination, should that occur, to work with others in this body to try to overcome that.”

So the threat is there; just that it is too hard to be accused as kowtowing to Saudi Arabia this close to election… When voting against the bill was actually in America’s best interest…

The sentiments behind the bill’s passage and override can be gleaned from statements from Grassley and Schumer…

Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said the families of 9/11 victims favored the measure and accused Obama of bowing to Saudi pressure. “All they want is the opportunity to present their case in a court of law,” he said on the Senate floor. “And that’s what this legislation would give them.”

True, the Saudi’s pressuring which included a massive hiring of lobbyists, backfired and made overriding this veto become almost a symbol of national pride..Their effort almost forced anyone trying to do the right thing (which would be to protect American troops overseas), to be accused of bowing before Saudi pressure by their political opponents back home… Something no one would want to do… and the vote was rather overwhelming… 97-1 in the Senate to override; 348-77 in the House…

As Texas senator John Cornyn noted about the unity: “In our polarized politics of today, this is pretty much close to a miraculous occurrence . 

On the softer Democratic side, Schumer was quoted by the Associated Press as saying: “The White House and the executive branch [are] far more interested in diplomatic considerations (like War and peace)… We’re more interested in the families and in justice.”..

One would certainly hope the president would be concerned about War and Peace… What is surprising is that Congress puts the perception of kowtowing, and the perception of support of families and justice, over the very real element of protecting American lives working for us overseas…

We know certain other countries would jump at a chance to use JASTA to justify similar immunity exceptions  to retaliate against us, to target US policies and activities which they oppose.Foreign governments would be able to act “reciprocally” and allow their courts to exercise jurisdiction over the United States and its employees, for allegedly causing injuries overseas through American support to third parties.

“If any of these litigants were to win judgments – based on foreign domestic laws as applied by foreign courts – they would begin to look to the assets of the US government held abroad to satisfy those judgments, with potentially serious financial consequences for the United States,” Obama wrote to Senate Leaders…

Here is the sober reflection given by the director of the CIA, John Brennan… “The most damaging consequence would be for those US government officials who dutifully work overseas on behalf of our country. The principle of sovereign immunity protects US officials every day, and is rooted in reciprocity. If we fail to uphold this standard for other countries, we place our own nation’s officials in danger.”

The United States has a larger international presence, by far, than any other country, and international sovereign immunity principles protect our Nation and its Armed Forces, officials, and assistance professionals, from foreign court proceedings.

Enactment of JASTA could encourage foreign governments to act reciprocally and allow their domestic courts to exercise jurisdiction over the United States or U.S. officials — including our men and women in uniform — for allegedly causing injuries overseas via U.S. support to third parties. This could lead to suits against the United States or U.S. officials for actions taken by members of an armed group that received U.S. assistance, misuse of U.S. military equipment by foreign forces, or abuses committed by police units that received U.S. training, even if the allegations at issue ultimately would be without merit.

Pandora’s box…. just got opened…..

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