Senate passed bill allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia

Families of the victims of 9/11 are one step closer to being able to sue Saudi Arabia after the Senate passed new legislation on Tuesday.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow families of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for damages. The proposition, however, was shunned by the Obama White House.

The Senate unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act on Tuesday, allowing legal action against the Saudi government from families of those killed on 9/11.

"The purpose of this Act is to provide civil litigants with the broadest possible basis, consistent with the Constitution of the United States, to seek relief against persons, entities, and foreign countries, wherever acting and wherever they may be found, that have provided material support, directly or indirectly, to foreign organizations or persons that engage in terrorist activities against the United States," the text of the bill states.

The act is co-sponsored by Charles Schumer (D-NY) and must now be passed by the House before it heads to the President’s desk.

"For the sake of the families, I want to make clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that every entity, including foreign states, will be held accountable if they are found to be sponsors of the heinous act of 9/11," Schumer said. "If the Saudis did not participate in this terrorism, they have nothing to fear about going to court. If they did, they should be held accountable."

Obama has already said that even if it does reach the White House he plans to veto it.

"If we open up the possibility that individuals and the United States can routinely start suing over governments, then we are also opening up the United States to being continually sued by individuals in other countries," Obama said last month.

President Obama traveled to Riyadh last month to discuss the issue with King Salman.

The Saudi government warned of financial consequences if the legislation makes it to law. The government said in March that it might sell off $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets in the United States for fear they could be frozen by courts.

Although Saudi Arabia has never been conclusively linked to the 2001 terrorist attacks, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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