House Passes Justice Against Terror Sponsors Act
Source: DNA Info
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, who authored the bill, along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Senate, released the following statement on House passage of JASTA:
“I’m pleased the House has taken this huge step forward towards justice for the families of the victims of 9/11. There are always diplomatic considerations that get in the way of justice, but if a court proves the Saudis were complicit in 9/11, they should be held accountable. If they’ve done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about. I hope for the sake of the families who have suffered such losses and fought so hard, the Administration will not veto this bill.”
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) had urged her colleagues to pass this bill from the House floor earlier that day. The following is a statement she released following passage of the act:
“The attacks of September 11th were acts of appalling cruelty that knowingly and specifically targeted innocent Americans. So today, two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I applaud the House’s passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
“Though the hijackers of those planes died that day, it is virtually indisputable that people who conspired with them in the planning, preparation, execution and financing of those horrific acts still walk freely in foreign capitals. In fact, they are currently protected by a peculiar interpretation of international law that shields them from justice in U.S. Courts for terrorist acts on U.S. soil. However, this bill corrects those misinterpretations of previous legislation and lower court decisions and empowers survivors and families of the victims of international terrorism to seek a measure of justice through our civil courts.
“We know that civil litigation against terror sponsors, including foreign governments, can have an important deterrent effect – so let’s allow for that action.
“The attacks of 9/11 affect and were condemned by people and governments around the world. So this bill is needed – not just [sic] the families of those who died in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – for our global community.
“Let us never forget and allow those seeking justice to finally find it.”
Victims of terrorism on U.S. soil already bring civil suits against foreign states for aiding and abetting terrorism on the basis of existing laws that were passed and affirmed by Congress. However, due to confused interpretations of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), the results have been inconsistent. Claims brought forth by September 11th victims have been undermined for these reasons.
JASTA works to restore the understanding of the law that existed from the enactment of the FSIA through the September 11th attacks themselves by clarifying the FSIA’s tort exception and the ATA’s substantive liability provisions. This narrowly drawn statute will deter international terrorism, guarantee American citizens the protections that Congress intended already to provide, and grant the Executive branch new powers to resolve terrorism-related civil litigation of this nature through diplomatic means.