After Lorie Van Auken lost her husband in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, she tried for years to hold the government of Saudi Arabia accountable in federal court, believing that the hijackers were helped by Saudi agents. But because foreign governments are currently immune from suits in the U.S., the efforts of Van Auken and other 9/11 families have failed.
The 9/11 bill, which would allow victims of terror attacks that take place on U.S. soil to sue the governments of nations that support terrorism, would finally change that, however. And yet, the White House has signaled that President Obama would veto any such legislation that reached his desk.
Understandably, Van Auken is “completely outraged.”
"If someone you loved was murdered and the person was just able to go away Scott free, would you be OK with that? I don’t think anybody would,” she said. “It feels like blackmail, the government, the president is siding with Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 families."
Saudi Arabian officials have long denied any allegations that their government played a role in the 9/11 attacks.
The 9/11 Commission report said the Saudi government “as an institution” or its senior officials individually did not fund the attackers.
But there has long been speculation that lower-level officials may have been involved. And victims' families and lawmakers in both parties have pressed for the release of 28 pages of a 2002 report on the attacks that reportedly detail Saudi officials’ role in the plot. […]
[The legislation] has bipartisan support; Sens. John Cornyn(R-Texas) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) both authored the bill. They argue it would allow American citizens to recoup damages from countries that have provided financial support to groups like al Qaeda.
Saudi Arabia has vowed to sell off $750 billion in U.S. assets if the legislation becomes law.