Analysis & Opinions - CNN

This Congressional Act Threatens US National Security

| Aug. 29, 2017

On August 1, 2017, Saudi Arabia filed, in the US District Court in Manhattan, for the dismissal of 25 lawsuits that claimed it helped plan the 9/11 attacks and should therefore pay damages to victims. The request was in response to a lawsuit filedon March 20, 2017, by the families of 850 9/11 victims. 

The lawsuit filed by the families was made possible by the passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, and while JASTA's initial target is Saudi Arabia, the inevitable victim will be the United States itself, because JASTA will prove devastating for US-Saudi relations, US ties with the Arab world, and overall US foreign policy.

The act became law last year when Congress overrode a veto by then-President Barack Obama for the first and only time. It authorizes US courts to hear cases against foreign nations accused of aiding terrorist acts, even if those nations have not been designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Before JASTA, nations that had been so designated could be tried in US courts, but suits involving other nations would have been dismissed as violating the sovereign immunity to which nations are entitled under international law.

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For Academic Citation: Obaid, Nawaf.“This Congressional Act Threatens US National Security.” CNN, August 29, 2017.