US President Barack Obama (Photo by AFP)
US President Barack Obama has used his veto power to block legislation that allows the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for reparations.
In his veto message, Obama said Friday that the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," or JASTA, which was passed in Congress on September 9, would be “detrimental” to America's national security interests and its key alliances.
The legislation “does not enhance the safety of Americans from terrorist attacks, and undermines core US interests,” Obama said, adding that the victims’ families will not be able to gain justice through the bill either.
“A number of our allies and partners have already contacted us with serious concerns about the bill,” the presidential message read.
On Wednesday, the European Union (EU) called on Obama to veto the bill, warning that it would “put a burden on bilateral relations between states.”
Smoke billows from the Twin Towers in New York, September 11, 2001. (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has strongly opposed the bill, threatening to sell off $750 billion in American assets if it becomes law.
Despite the warnings, support for JASTA ran high among US lawmakers, who unanimously voted to pass the bill and effectively end foreign countries' immunity from legal action in American courts.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who spearheaded the bill, said Congress was set to overturn the veto.
“This is a disappointing decision that will be swiftly and soundly overturned in Congress. I believe both parties will come together next week to make JASTA the law of the land,” the New York senator said.
“If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation. If they were culpable in 9/11, they should be held accountable,” Schumer noted.
Of the 19 hijackers that allegedly carried out the attacks, 15 had Saudi Arabian nationality and available evidence suggests that some of them were linked to high-ranking Saudi officials.
Official 9/11 investigations have long been described by politicians and experts as a series of whitewashes aimed at concealing the roles that the Saudi regime and American intelligence agencies played in coordination with the Israeli regime during the period leading up to the terrorist attacks.