Repeal JASTA, New York Times urges US Congress

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, second from left, and his colleagues listens to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Sept. 13, 2016, file photo. (AP)
Updated 03 October 2016

Repeal JASTA, New York Times urges US Congress

JEDDAH: The New York Times has urged the US Congress to repeal the so-called 9/11 Bill or the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) before it could do more damage.
The US Senate and the House of Representatives delivered a stinging rebuke to President Barack Obama on Wednesday by overriding his veto of the bill that was meant to allow the families of the 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.
In its editorial, America’s leading newspaper and one with worldwide influence, damned what it called the “baldfaced admission of gross ineptitude” after reports that Republican leaders were discussing the possibility of changes to the bill.
The editorial referred to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s statement on Thursday that “nobody had really focused on the potential downside in terms of our international relationships, and I think it was just a ball dropped.”
The New York Times was livid. “Instead of putting the responsibility entirely where it belongs — on Congress — McConnell went on absurdly to blame Obama for failing to communicate the potential consequences of the bill,” it said. “In fact, Obama, the national security agencies, the Saudi government, retired diplomats, the European Union and big corporations had all bombarded Congress with warnings. Yet lawmakers ignored all of them in a rush to pass the legislation and then, this week, override Obama’s veto by a large bipartisan vote.”
In its sharp rebuke, the editorial said: “Congress seems determined to set a new standard for craven incompetence.”
The New York Times pointed out that the aim of the bill — to give the families their day in court — “is compassionate, but it is already complicating the American relationship with Saudi Arabia, and it could expose the American government, citizens and corporations to lawsuits abroad.”
The newspaper said while the families believe that Saudi Arabia allegedly played a role in the attacks because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, “an independent American commission that investigated the attacks found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials directed or financed the terrorists.”
The newspaper said it is not clear what the lawmakers can do to mitigate the problems with this “ill-conceived” law.
The Saudi government, in a statement, said it hoped Congress would “correct this legislation” in its lame duck session after the November election.
Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has suggested that changes could include limiting suits to the Sept. 11 attacks or creating a separate legal tribunal.
But, as the New York Times pointed out, foreign governments could still retaliate by taking similar steps, such as carving out sovereign immunity exceptions for specific incidents of importance to them — perhaps America’s mistaken bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan in 2015 that killed 42 people.
“Congress has once again embarrassed itself and harmed American interests in the process,” said the newspaper. “The only way to fix this law is to repeal it.”

World celebrates Saudi National Day

Updated 2 min 46 sec ago

World celebrates Saudi National Day

DUBAI: From Dubai to Beirut to New York and Washington, D.C., Saudi National Day was celebrated outside of the Kingdom on Sunday as a show of patriotism by Saudis abroad and as a sign of friendship by countries around the world.

The Dubai airline operated a special one-off A380 service, known as EK 813 and EK 814, on Sunday to the capital city of Riyadh, touching down at King Khalid International Airport at 3:30 p.m. The return flight was scheduled to depart at 6:50 p.m.

A YouTube video from Emirates also showed crew handing out scarves embroidered with the countries’ flags, as well as white roses, to passengers while boarding the A380 aircraft.


The Burj Khalifa was illuminated with the Saudi flag last night, while the Nasdaq Tower’s electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square was lit up with photos of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

The images were posted by Nasdaq Dubai, the UAE-based operation of the New York equities exchange, on Twitter with the message: “Best wishes from #NasdaqDubai to #SaudiArabia on the occasion of the 88th National Day.”



In Lebanon, Pigeons’ Rock, also known as the Rock of Raouché, located in the sea of the western capital of Beirut, was lit in the colors of the Saudi flag. The rock, one of the most important Lebanese monuments, was lit during a ceremony attended by the charge d'affaires of Saudi Arabia, Waleed bin Abdullah Bukhari, along with a crowd of dignitaries, including the Mayor of Beirut.

In Washington, the Saudi embassy’s National Day bus toured around the capital on the weekend inviting people to its celebrations on Sunday in National Harbor, Maryland.

In the UAE’s capital, the General Command of Abu Dhabi Police decorated 88 of their cars - one for every year being celebrated – with the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the words “Together Forever.”

The UAE’s airlines got in on the game. Emirates operated a special one-off A380 service on the routes EK 813 and EK 814 on Sunday to the capital city of Riyadh, touching down at King Khalid International Airport at 3:30pm. Crew handed out scarves emblazoned with the countries’ flags, as well as white roses, to passengers boarding the

Etihad said it was using the only Saudi A380 pilot in the world, Wesam Sameer Al Najjar, to fly its Year of Zayed plane to Jeddah with the UAE’s Captain Ahmed Almalood.

In the UAE, children at some schools dressed in green and sang the anthems of both countries, carrying both of their flags. In the evening, there was a Saudi National Day celebration at La Mer beachfront in Dubai that featured a supercar parade, traditional Saudi dancers and, of course, fireworks.