WASHINGTON, May 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement on behalf of the family members of 9/11 Victims identified below:
The survivors and loved ones of the Americans who lost their lives on 9/11 are gratified by the United States Senate's unanimous passage today of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. We applaud especially the tireless leadership of Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) in this effort.
Known as JASTA, this legislation reaffirms the commonsense principle that no person, entity or government enjoys blanket immunity from legal responsibility for participation in a terrorist attack that takes lives or causes injury inside the United States of America.
The American people, as well as our families, deserve the truth about 9/11 and those responsible deserve to be held to account. JASTA promises us the truth, accountability and a strong warning that the United States finally will stand behind its promise of justice to those who were injured and the survivors of the three thousand children, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands who were murdered in our homeland on 9/11.
As has been widely reported, the White House vigorously opposed the passage of an earlier version of JASTA. Senior government officials raised a variety of objections, especially relating to a threat that Saudi Arabia might withdraw its assets from the United States and that exposing other governments to terrorism suits here might result in copycat suits against the United States for our legitimate activities in other countries.
The feared threat of Saudi asset withdrawal has proven to be hollow, as economists and financial experts have pointed out that any such move would hurt Saudi Arabia far more than it would hurt the United States. Administration officials have recently also indicated that no such threat was seriously made.
As for the perceived threat of reciprocal suits against the U.S. or its representatives, a key distinction between what JASTA addresses and what some claim foreign states may threaten in return is that the United States does not provide support to terrorist organizations to target civilian populations.
The Senate sponsors of JASTA long ago realized the danger in indulging any purported equivalency between foreign governments' support of terrorism and our efforts to prevent it. Even so, the sponsors of JASTA have carefully redrafted the relevant parts of the bill in the last few weeks to eliminate with even greater certainty this remote concern. The bill that was unanimously approved by the United States Senate today is narrowly tailored to apply only to terrorist attacks on our soil, and will serve as a powerful deterrent to the sponsorship of terrorism by any foreign government or private actor.
While issues of all kinds can result in fair differences of opinion, the fact that not a single member of the Senate disagrees that JASTA is good policy speaks volumes. In fact, the Senate has now twice passed JASTA unanimously. We hope that, in light of the robust public discussion over the last weeks as well as the revisions that have been made to the bill, the House of Representatives will also pass the bill without undue delay and that the President will sign it into law.
Our hope is for justice. We believe that, justice assured, America can have a relationship with any other nation that is committed to working with the United States to address valid grievances, and to honoring the obligations arising from injustices committed by its citizens, institutions or employees. If, instead, our people are sacrificed at the altar of diplomatic intrigue, they will support neither our alleged foreign partners who have received unjust protection nor those who are the architects of our sacrifice.
Lorie van Auken
Jack Quinn (T: 202-320-9266)
Sean Carter (T: 215-665-2105)
James Kreindler (T: 212-973-3449)
Jerry Goldman (T: 212-278-1783)
Robert Haefele (T: 843-216-9184)
Co-Counsel 9/11 Families and Victims
in re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001
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SOURCE Plaintiffs' Executive Committee representing the 9/11 Families and Victims