JEDDAH: Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey came down strongly against the so-called Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The bill was enacted into law by the US Congress last week despite a presidential veto.
Speaking on Fox News TV, Mukasey said JASTA would hurt the United States “a lot more than it helps any of the families of 9/11 victims.”
He expressed his hope that the law would be repealed in light of the larger interests of the United States.
Explaining his opposition to the law, he set out the reasons for his outspoken stand.
“A couple of days ago, there was a drone strike in Afghanistan. According to the Afghans, it killed civilians and the United States said, ‘We are going to look into it.’ If the Afghans had said, ‘Well, you killed our citizens and that is an act of terror. We want you to show us what intelligence you have. We want to talk to whoever was operating the drone and whoever was working at the airbase in the Midwest. We want the name of that person. We want to go through your intelligence files and communications.’ There is no way we can allow this and it will hurt us tremendously.”
He reminded the viewers that the United States had the greatest number of serving military personnel, the greatest number of intelligence personnel and the most diplomats in the world. “There have been people who have been trying for years to get at those folks in places as diverse as Belgium, Italy, Afghanistan, and if we do something like this, it gives them the perfect excuse to do so,” said Mukasey.
He said there was no evidence linking the Saudi government in any way to the 9/11 attacks.
To a question from the news anchor about assumptions that some of the information was held back from 9/11 families, Mukasey said if there was a person or some individual who had funded anything, then that person or individual could be sued.
“Those 28 pages (of a 2002 congressional report on the 9/11 attacks) don’t support any claim that the Saudi government was involved, and the notion that somehow we withheld information would require you to believe that two presidents and the whole intelligence apparatus of the United States was involved in a massive coverup conspiracy,” he said.
He defended America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. “They have helped us with enormous numbers of terrorism cases. (There have been attacks) that haven’t happened because the Saudis have been cooperative,” he said.
He reiterated that the families of the 9/11 victims deserve not only sympathy but support as well and obviously, compensation.
“But this bill is the wrong way to do it,” he said. “I am sure none of them (the 9/11 families) want to hurt the United States.”
He said he hopes that Congress will repeal the law.
“I am hoping they will, and I am hoping that they will get the president back in charge of our foreign relations,” he added.