Up until today, it seemed as if there would never be any closure for families of 9/11.
It seemed as if the current administration would continue the senseless foreign policy of the Bush administration that came before it. There was no way to stop it, and no matter who we voted for, the people in office would continue on the same trajectory.
But today, Wednesday, September 28, 2016, something extraordinary happened. The Senate voted 97 to 1 to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabian officials for their funding of the terrorists who killed their loved ones. This represents a complete departure from everything that has happened up to this point.
The bizarre events of September 11, 2001, were followed by an undeclared war against Iraq under the Bush administration — a war waged against an enemy that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.
The Patriot Act, one of the worst infringements on American civil liberties since the Alien and Sedition Acts, was a punishment to the American people for the misdeeds of a few terrorist armed with box cutters. Almost nothing that happened as a result of the 911 attacks seemed directed at anyone responsible for those acts of terrorism.
In the political atmosphere immediately following the attacks, people went along with President Bush out of a sense of patriotism. And when that misplaced patriotism began to die down, President Obama was elected, in the mistaken belief that he would lead the country out of war and would restore our civil liberties.
But the Obama administration continued the same anti-terrorism policy, keeping the Patriot Act, illegal torture of prisoners and drone bombings of innocent civilians. The one thing that nobody seemed willing to look into was the funding of the assassins who attacked Americans on 911. The money, we knew, had not come from Iraq.
The terrorists were all funded by the Saudis. But the Saudis are our allies, and so mainstream foreign policy demanded that we look the other way, and keep trying to find other scapegoats.
But today was different. According to an article in The Hill:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)was the sole vote to sustain Obama’s veto. Not a single Democrat came to the Senate floor before the vote to argue in favor of Obama’s position.
That President Obama did not have the support of his party members in helping to sustain his veto is an embarrassment.
The bipartisan legislation that the president sought to veto was sponsored by Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).
The bill was crafted by families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks, and it would create an exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. Links have been found between Saudi Arabian officials and the 911 attacks, but up until now, those officials were shielded from any recourse, no matter what they may have done to help fund the terrorists.
President Obama objects to this legislation because he does not want to give civilians authority to act against “state-sponsored terrorism.” He believes it would create problems for State Department personnel and operatives.
If the House also votes to override the veto, which is expected to happen next week, this law might be the first of many allowing civilian recourse against state sponsored terrorism.