Last-Minute Change to Bill Dashes Hopes of Suing Saudi Arabia

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U.S. Senator Charles Schumer added a last minute amendment to a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, as reported by the New York Post. The addition would allow the Justice Department to delay any legal action against foreign governments indefinitely.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House. The change effectively renders the bill powerless.

The section added by Schumer to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is titled "Stay of Actions Pending State Negotiations." It allows the secretary of state to suspend litigation proceedings as long as they can "certify" that the U.S. government is "engaged in good-faith discussions with the foreign-state defendant concerning the resolution of claims against the foreign state."

The attorney-general would also be able to petition the court to add additional 180 day stays which could be repeated indefinitely.

Even Iran's PressTV was outraged by the last minute addition.

The full text of the bill is available here.

By editing the bill in this way Schumer has ensured that even if the bill passes the state will be able to block legal action, effectively denying 9/11 families the right to justice. 


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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org