JASTA veto is based on common sense

JASTA veto is based on common sense

Bikram Vohra
US President Barack Obama showed tremendous common sense when he vetoed the JASTA bill which would allow US citizens to sue Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks.
Not only would this open up a whole new dimension but it has been proven beyond any shadow of doubt that the individuals involved in the Twin Towers attack were not state sponsored and the Saudi government was in no way party to it. This fact has been reiterated again and again.
There isn’t and there never has been a single shred of evidence linking the state to the individual and the US president is aware of that. It is ironic that Saudi Arabia is itself a victim of multiple terrorist attacks and pays a price in life for its stance against militancy.
Consequently, for the US Congress to pass such a bill is to actually give terrorism a boost in that if foreign policy can be turned into a chaotic affair it only helps those who thrive on disorder.
Driving a wedge into partners in the war against extremism only encourages more violence.
By this token it also makes vulnerable all Americans engaged in operations around the world that might have a quasi-military texture to them.
Let’s go a step further. If this bill was to be passed then it sets a global precedent and any nation inimical to another one can begin a legal process under which private citizens suing foreign governments would become the norm resulting in long-term inconclusive litigation and rivers of bad blood and international tension.
What is worrying is that Obama’s resistance is temporary and being in his lame-duck period lacks that effectiveness. That his possible successors have both come out in favor of the bill does suggest that somewhere down the line either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will OK the bill. Indeed, even that may not happen if Congress overrides the veto with a simple two-thirds majority.
Seeking redress where there is no complicity seems to be a populist indulgence and what is going to happen is exactly what Obama has underscored; and no country has more to lose, in the context of those exceptions, than the United States of America, given the preeminent role that we play in global affairs. The bill, if passed, is not limited to just the kin of 9/11. It is also extended to other countries and ends the era of ‘sovereign immunity’ where one nation could not take legal action against another.
That means the US could sue any country where it feels done down. By that token any country’s citizens could sue the US for acts of omission and commission, real and imagined, to have their day in court. Nor is any statute of limitation in time stipulated.
President Obama understands that while it is populist to support this bill in the US and gain the hurrahs of one’s constituency his fear that the senate and the Congress are failing to see the far-reaching implications of this development. There is still time to let sanity prevail. But will it?
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view