In the wake of Wednesday’s high-profile veto override votes in the House and Senate, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) became law, and with it, victims of 9/11 and their families gained the right to sue Saudi Arabia in US courts over their involvement in the lead-up to the attack.
Lawyers are scrambling to quickly file such suits, and with good reason: Congressional leaders are already openly promising to totally revise JASTA, likely dramatically watering it down in such a way as to placate Saudi Arabia, which has been livid over the matter.
At least one bill was already filed in Washington D.C. by the widow of a Navy officer killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Other suits were in the process of being filed elsewhere, with an attorney from a New York firm predicting “the biggest docket of any piece of litigation in US or world history.”
Whether any of the cases see the light of day is another matter. The JASTA allows for the attorney general to request a 180 day stay of any lawsuits under JASTA, and senators are saying they believe the revisions will happen shortly after the November election, during the lame duck session.
This too is by design. Overwhelming public support obliged the House and Senate to override President Obama’s veto, coming so close to the election, but once everyone has cashed in on their vote in the election, many are only too eager to reverse course and get back to placating the Saudis.
The White House and Congress continue to spend time arguing over whose “fault” the passage of the legislation is, but the reality is that even this is just political theater, as there is every indication that the pieces are already falling into place to ensure that JASTA, even if it is the law of the land for now, will never amount to anything.