This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 30, 2016:
Senator Ted Cruz could hardly contain himself as he celebrated the Senate’s first successful override of an Obama veto on Wednesday:
I applaud my colleagues for joining together and with the American people to stand against President Obama’s attempt to deprive terror victims from receiving full recourse under the law. Our nation has a duty to ensure that American victims of terrorism, first and foremost the 9/11 families, are able to receive justice.
Congress, by passing JASTA, will do just that and will continue to protect our brave men and women in uniform who defend our freedoms and way of life across the globe. I encourage my colleagues in the House to follow the Senate in overriding the president’s veto and enact JASTA into law.
The House followed shortly thereafter, overriding Obama’s veto 349-77.
JASTA – the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act – has been languishing ever since it was introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn in 2009 in response to pressure from families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The bill got traction as the election drew nearer and concerns over Islamic attacks in Manhattan, Minnesota, and Orlando, Florida continued to grow.
The Senate overrode Obama’s veto 97-1, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid being the only Senator to vote to sustain Obama’s veto.
Cornyn was delighted with the outcome along with Cruz: “In our polarized politics of today, this is pretty close to a miraculous occurrence. [JASTA] gives victims of the terrorist attack on our own soil an opportunity to seek the justice they deserve.”
That the override was political was made clear by Alexander Bolton, writing in The Hill:
Lawmakers don’t want to be seen as soft on punishing terrorist sponsors a few weeks before the election, at a time when voters are increasingly worried about radical Islamic terrorism in the wake of recent attacks….
But at what cost? JASTA inserts an exception into the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) signed into law in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. FSIA placed specific limitations on abilities of American citizens to sue foreign governments in US courts, granting them essential immunity against those lawsuits. This was done partly to protect sensitive internal intelligence sources and networks along with the decision-making processes. The exception, just now enacted as a result of the veto override, allows a lawsuit by 911 victims’ families to proceed against Saudi Arabia.
In that process will come “discovery,” which may then prove the long-standing assumption (denied by the 911 Commission) that Saudi Arabia and/or its agents were supporters of the attackers back in 2001. It’s that discovery process that worried both former UN Ambassador John Bolton and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, expressed in an op-ed appearing earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal:
JASTA is far more likely to harm the United States than [to] bring justice against any sponsor of terrorism….
We have far more to lose than other nations from creating exceptions to sovereign immunity that others could use [in retaliating] against us. There is no shortage of people hostile to America … who would welcome JASTA’s passage.
Foreign national lawsuits against American officials accused of terrorist acts (i.e., drone strikes gone awry) would force them to expose intelligence and other highly sensitive information to public view, thus potentially providing America’s enemies with information heretofore not readily available to them. Concluded Bolton and Mukasy: “JASTA has great potential for mischief and little for good.”
President Obama’s complaint that the bill would injure American interests over time was largely ignored, resulting in the veto that White House spokesman Josh Earnest called “the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done….”
It may turn out to be more than just embarrassing. America, thanks to its hyper-active policing of the world by the CIA, has lots of enemies who are just salivating over the opportunity to retaliate with similar measures. The discovery process would then likely expose much of the CIA’s backroom maneuvering and black operations, putting that information – which is not otherwise readily available through other means – into the hands of America’s enemies.
It’s an increasingly dangerous world, and this override, celebrated as a victory by people who should know better, gives America’s enemies a valuable tool.