Congress today resoundingly overrode President Barack Obama’s Sept. 23 veto of S. 2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), with the Senate vote tally of 97-to-1, in favor of override; and the House of Representatives tally of 348-to-77. The override required a 2/3 majority vote in both Houses of Congress, and it was achieved by a wide, bipartisan margin.
The implications are massive.
With JASTA now the law of the land, the loopholes that blocked the 9/11 survivors and families from suing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in U.S. Federal Court for their complicity in 9/11 have now been removed. A hearing is already scheduled in Federal Court for the Southern District of New York in November, at which the 9/11 families will be able to finally directly confront the Saudi Monarchy and pursue further evidence of the Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi citizens.
The opportunity for discovery about the Saudi role in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was recently further enhanced by the public release, on July 15, 2016, of the 28-page chapter from the original 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, which revealed previously secret evidence about the role of former Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin-Sultan in supporting at least two of the 9/11 terrorists, along with evidence of ties to the hijackers by scores of other Saudi officials at all levels of government and the Royal Family.
The role of Prince Bandar in the 9/11 attacks is of special significance because of his close ties to the Bush family and even closer ties to the British. Bandar was the broker, along with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, of the Al Yamamah deal, a barter arrangement of British weapons for Saudi oil. Under Al Yamamah, hundreds of billions of dollars were squirreled into secret off-shore joint Anglo-Saudi accounts for the purpose of funding terrorism, assassinations and political coups around the globe. A prominent Member of the British House of Commons, who is also a senior figure in the British defense establishment, candidly warned in June that, if JASTA were to become U.S. law, the British Monarchy and the British government could be sued, along with the Saudis.
“An Historic Victory”
Lyndon LaRouche, whose LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC) had mobilized intensively for today’s results, described the vote as “An historic victory. It is a cause for rejoicing; it has turned the pages of history. The worldwide positive potential is enormous.” However, LaRouche cautioned, “How far and where it takes us, is not yet clear. Get ready to find out.” He added, “Remember, you’ve hurt the devil hard. And the devil ain’t going to thank you for that!”
The overwhelming defeat of President Obama and the Saudis came despite the fact that the entire Obama Administration had been mobilized to pressure Congress to support his veto, and the Saudi Monarchy had poured in a reported $9.4 million, in a desperate lobbying effort to buy off Members of Congress. In the end, a bipartisan coalition of leading Senators and Representatives rejected the Obama Administration lies that JASTA posed a threat to American interests abroad, and delivered the biggest political defeat to President Obama since he first took office.
Yesterday, both Houses of Congress engaged in two hours of debate, preceding the historic vote, and the vast majority of speeches emphasized the rights of the 9/11 families to at long last obtain justice, and to confront the Saudi Monarchy and its agents for their complicity in the worst terrorist attack to ever occur on U.S. soil.
Much of the debate was taken up debunking the Obama claim that JASTA would open American servicemen, corporations and diplomats to retaliation by foreign government. Leading JASTA proponents, including Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Charles Schumer (D-New York), and Representatives Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jerome Nadler (D-New York) made clear, repeatedly, that JASTA merely closes a loophole in legislation that has existed since the 1970s, allowing American citizens to sue foreign governments, proven to have provided support for terrorist attacks that took place on U.S. soil. But that loophole allowed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to evade American justice for the past 15 years—and that has now come to an end.
Broader Strategic Opportunities
The successful bipartisan effort, beating President Obama’s veto of JASTA, can and must now be directed, with equal intensity, at other vital issues, starting with the need for Congress to immediately pass the bills already before both Houses of Congress to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act, to break up the too-big-to-fail banks that are on the edge of a collapse far worse than 2008. Germany’s Deutsche Bank, the largest holder of derivatives of any bank in the world, is about to collapse, and the entire trans-Atlantic banking system is set to crash, as the direct result.
Reinstating Glass Steagall is the indispensable first step towards launching a genuine economic recovery through massive capital investment in urgently-needed infrastructure projects, research and development, and particularly a revival of America’s now collapsed NASA space program. Such an effort, now, can create millions of new productive jobs. In Eurasia, under the leadership of China, a massive program of infrastructure investment is being implemented, under the banner of President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road initiative. Russian President Vladimir Putin has embraced the initiative and has proposed to integrate the Eurasian Economic Union into the effort, which former U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman recently described as the biggest infrastructure project in human history.
Rather than working to sabotage the New Silk Road project, as has been the U.S. policy under President Obama, the United States should fully embrace the One Belt, One Road program and thus expanded into a true World Landbridge.
The U.S. Congress, for the first time in a long time, has acted with a single voice, on behalf of the vital interests of the American people. The JASTA bill benefits all Americans and particularly those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks or were themselves severely injured.
That vote offers a larger beacon of hope, that the same spirit of national interest can now rapidly be translated into the other actions, that are vital to the survival and prosperity of the United States and the world.