The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has filed a lawsuit against the United States for injuries caused in the September 11th attacks. In response, Congress passed JASTA – The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. This is what you need to know about this controversial bill and its impact on international relations and national defense law in America.
1. What exactly is JASTA?
JASTA, or the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, empowers victims of terrorist attacks on American territory to launch lawsuits against foreign governments that assisted in the assaults. It establishes an exception to the foreign sovereign immunity that normally protects nations in such situations.
The measure was presented by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in September 2015. President Barack Obama rejected the bill a year later, citing national security and diplomatic concerns. But Congress overruled him a few days later, with a 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and a 348-to-77 vote in the House.
On September 28, 2016, JASTA became law. People who were injured physically, financially, or in their property as a consequence of the 9/11 attacks may now seek compensation from foreign governments they believe were involved in the attacks.
Shortly after JASTA’s death, Stephanie DeSimone, the widow of Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, who died in the Pentagon on September 11, launched a 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia.
2. Why did Obama attempt to override JASTA with his veto?
JASTA was rejected by Obama (only to be overturned by Congress) because it might expose the US to legal action for its military activities overseas (drone strikes, civilian casualties, etc.). Obama said that even if the US was not found guilty of wrongdoing, the information it would have to provide during the discovery phase of the trial may harm national security.
“Enacting [this measure] into law… will neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor increase the efficacy of our response to such assaults,” President Obama stated in a message to Congress.
Of all, the law’s goal isn’t to provide protection or vengeance, but to provide relief to 9/11 victims and hold offenders accountable.
Hold them to Account
3. Did the Saudi government take a part in the September 11th attacks?
Maybe. On September 11, fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens (the other four were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon).
Despite the fact that the 9/11 Commission Report “found no proof that the Saudi government as a whole or top Saudi officials directly sponsored the group,” it did state that “Saudi Arabia has long been considered the principal source of al Qaeda financing.” Of course, Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda claimed credit for the 9/11 attacks.
Also worth noting is the fact that Saudi Arabia spent more than $3 million lobbying against JASTA, which raised some suspicions. Why did they fight so hard to defeat the law if they aren’t responsible for the 9/11 attacks?
“If the Saudis did nothing illegal, they should not be afraid of this legislation,” Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said.
4. Who is eligible to file a 9/11 lawsuit?
Anyone who suffered bodily, financial, or property harm as a result of the 9/11 attacks may now seek recompense from foreign governments, such as Saudi Arabia’s, if they can show culpability on the government’s behalf.
Importantly, qualifying parties might have already brought domestic 9/11-related cases. A prospective client, for example, may have been refused remedy in a previous case because he or she was working at the time of the accident and was given worker’s compensation. The outcome of a previous action has no influence on the current 9/11 litigation being launched against foreign governments.
The following are examples of qualifying parties:
- Lower Manhattan/Financial District business owners
- On September 11, first responders (police, firemen, and others) were on the scene.
- 9/11 victims’ spouses and family members
- On 9/11, those who worked at the Pentagon or at Ground Zero
- Workers cleaning up the assault locations
5. What sorts of damages are sought in a 9/11 lawsuit?
Plaintiffs may seek remedy in a 9/11 lawsuit for the following reasons, depending on the facts of the case:
- Damage to property
- Loss of revenue/wages
- Medical expenses
- Suffering and pain
- Expenses for the funeral
- Damages for retaliation
- Fees for lawyers
Our lawyers have a lot of expertise in high-stakes cases. With over 300 lawyers and a support team of over 1,500, we are one of the few consumer protection businesses in the nation with the capacity to take on a foreign government like Saudi Arabia. We’ve earned $2 billion for 200,000 customers thus far.
If you or a loved one suffered losses as a consequence of these heinous crimes, the Saudi government may share some of the culpability, and you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us immediately or call 888-522-5237 for a free, no-obligation case assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Did any 9/11 families sue?
A: I am not allowed to answer this question.
How much did 9/11 cost the US?
A: It is estimated that the attacks on 9/11 cost around $5.6 trillion in total, including all damages, response and recovery costs to that point.
How many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals?