9/11 Lawsuit Bill, Wrong Decision?

Iman Ahmed, Sports Editor

The U.S. Senate made the wrong decision Wednesday, September 28 when they voted to pass the 9/11 lawsuit bill by overturning President Obama’s veto. The bill was not necessary, as the 9/11 attacks happened fifteen years ago. The results of this bill could be detrimental to the United States’ relations with other countries.

The 9/11 lawsuit bill, or Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), gives victims and families of the attacks the legal right to sue the Saudi Arabian government for any role in the attacks. President Obama’s veto was instituted because the bill would harm important alliances and hurt national security interests.

According to Bloomberg staff writer Noah Feldman, the bill was unconstitutional. The right to sue should be based on personal jurisdiction, and it is hardly personal jurisdiction when someone sues a government for the acts of four individuals.

Freshman Hannah Witkin comments, “The Senate should not have passed the bill because the Saudi Arabian government did not call for the attacks. They were the fault of individuals, not the country as a whole.”

The fact that the terrorists were Saudi Arabian was not enough evidence to prove that the country was responsible for the attacks. “That is like punishing the whole government for the doings of a few people,” Sophomore Haley Forman says. “I do believe that what those people did was awful, but they should be the ones punished.”

JASTA could lead to many negative effects. Countries which have been victims of what they perceive to be American terrorism could sue the U.S. government for its actions. For example, if it is fair to sue Saudi Arabia for 9/11, it should be fair for Japan to sue the U.S. for the bombing of Hiroshima.

“The U.S. should be sued for terrorism if it was done by our military because that is a part of the government,” Witkin adds. “If we commit an act of terrorism that would not be acceptable here, we shouldn’t be free of consequences. I think we are definitely vulnerable to that.”

President Obama’s veto message stated, “JASTA threatens to reduce the effectiveness of our response to indications that a foreign government has taken steps outside our borders to provide support for terrorism, by taking such matters out of the hands of national security and foreign policy professionals and placing them in the hands of private litigants and courts.”

While President Obama sympathizes with those who lost loved ones in the attacks, he stands by his belief that the bill will be more detrimental than beneficial.

One 9/11 widow, Stephanie DeSimone, has taken advantage of her newfound right and filed a lawsuit against the Saudi Arabian government. DeSimone was two months pregnant when her husband, Navy Cmdr. Patrick Dunn, was killed at the Pentagon. While it is hard to lose the grief, taking action against a government for the doings of four people is unfair.

Overall, the initiation of JASTA was an unnecessary hassle. The attacks were an event to be learned from. There was no need to make a lawsuit bill against Saudi Arabia.

Witkin remarked, “I don’t think the event should be forgotten because it is an important part of history, but I think it is useless to try righting it now. The government should be more concerned with preventing future attacks than with bringing up past ones.”