Saudi foreign minister implores Congress for changes to terrorism bill

Following a string of meetings with lawmakers during his brief visit to Washington, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters Sunday part of his mission was to urge Congress to amend the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).

An amendment to the both the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, JASTA allows civil claims against foreign states for injuries resulting from acts of terror.

Al-Jubeir, who previously served as ambassador to the U.S., emphasized part of his duty was “to try to persuade (Congress) that there needs to be an amendment of the [terrorism] law.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh, al-Jubeir said JASTA will ultimately threaten the relationship the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed for decades and may potentially come back to haunt America.

“We believe the law, that curtails sovereign immunities, represents a grave danger to the international system,” Jubeir said. “The United States is, by eroding this principle, opening the door for other countries to take similar steps and then before you know it international order becomes governed by the law of the jungle.

Introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in June 2015, the measure passed Congress’ upper chamber in May by voice vote with no opposition.  The bill passed similarly in the House on Sept. 9, but was vetoed by President Obama two weeks later.

In what became the first override of a presidential veto during his presidency, Congress reversed Mr. Obama on Sept. 28, and JASTA became law.

In the Senate, the veto-override vote was 97 “yeas”, one “nay” and two abstentions. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the lone vote in opposition, while Sens. Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine abstained from voting.

 

[AFP via Yahoo News] [Photo courtesy AFP via BBC]