9/11 Families Outraged at Report that Two Republican Senators will seek Delay of Veto Override of Anti-Terror Sponsorship Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420; David White: (202) 607-0766

9/11 Families and Survivors irate at effort to delay enactment of Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, S.2040

Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2016  – Reports by Bloomberg and the New York Times that two leading Republican voices on national security – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (TN) and Lindsey Graham (SC) – are trying to delay a vote to override the president’s anticipated veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) have 9/11 families and survivors outraged.

JASTA would allow victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil to seek accountability against foreign states in U.S. courts, essentially the same way they could if the foreign state had caused injury in a car wreck.  After more than six years of consideration in Congress, and several holds on the bill earlier this year – in part to address inquiries to the ultimate satisfaction of Senators Corker and Graham – the Senate passed the bill unanimously in May and the House did so unanimously last week on Sept. 9, 2016.  But the president has vowed to veto the bill, premised publicly on two unfounded rationales.  The Democratic White House’s rationales, presumably along with reported heavy pressure from high-priced Saudi lobbyist, seem to have given the two Republican senators unnecessary pause.

The White House has said JASTA would cause U.S. diplomats and citizens to be at risk from reciprocal legislation or lawsuits overseas.  But JASTA does not – and cannot – have anything to do with suing diplomats.  That issue is controlled by a 55-year-old treaty – the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – to which the U.S. and 190 other nations are signatories, including nearly every U.N. member state.  And JASTA has nothing to do with whether a private citizen can be sued for alleged wrongdoing; it deals with immunity of foreign states.  With or without JASTA, if a U.S. citizen causes wrongful injury in another country, local law can authorize suit against that U.S. citizen.

In statements from Senator Corker and Senator Graham, they have expressed similarly misplaced concerns that reciprocal legislation may put the U.S. at risk, for example, due to drone strikes against terrorist and other enemy targets.  But the narrow text of JASTA, like our legal history, specifically distinguishes between acts of war and acts of terrorism. Moreover, JASTA requires that the terrorist attack at issue to have been done by a terror organization formally designated under U.S. law.  Because the U.S. does not outsource our drone strikes to designated terrorist organizations, reciprocal legislation would not threaten us.  By equating what we do to protect ourselves from terrorism with what others do in support of terrorism, the senators misread the narrow text of JASTA and disparage U.S. policy.

The White House’s second rationale for opposing JASTA is because, it says, JASTA allows judges to designate foreign states as terror sponsors outside of the formal U.S. process for imposing U.S. sanctions.  But JASTA has nothing to do with designating nations as terror sponsors or imposing sanctions.  Like in any car wreck case where a foreign state bears responsibility, JASTA allows victims of terror attacks on U.S. soil to seek accountability in a U.S. court.  For forty years, U.S. sovereign immunity laws have allowed suits against sovereigns for death or injury, not just for car wrecks but also for terrorist attacks.  That is why, as recently as 2004, in a brief to the Supreme Court, the U.S. government expressed the view that U.S. sovereign immunity law authorizes suits in terrorism cases like 9/11.  Neither the preexisting law nor the government’s earlier position ever caused a flood of retaliatory legislation or litigation.

Because no rationale for vetoing JASTA withstands scrutiny, the bill should be enacted without any delay – including the delays suggested by Senators Corker and Graham.  The horrific events of the 9/11 attacks took place over fifteen years ago.  JASTA has been under Congressional scrutiny for nearly half of that time (it was first introduced in 2009 – with Senator Graham as a co-sponsor at each introduction). Both Senators Corker and Graham studied the bill earlier this year – delaying its Senate passage – and made changes to the bill’s text for many of the same concerns they are now raising.  If they had lingering concerns at that time, they never voiced them when the Senate unanimously passed the bill.  Not until the Saudi lobbyists came knocking.  But after years of consideration and careful scrutiny (including by both of these senators), both chambers of Congress fully vetted and unanimously agreed that JASTA is good policy.  Where Congress spoke so resoundingly in favor of JASTA, neither one president, two senators, nor an army of Saudi lobbyists should prevent it.

Fifteen years is already far too long to be asked to wait for accountability for the deaths and injuries suffered in the 9/11 attacks.  The delays attributed to Senators Corker and Graham, trying to push off consideration of a veto override for several months until after their election campaigns, asks far more than the families and survivors should ever be asked to accept.  The pledge of the Democratic president to veto JASTA was already more than enough insult.  But two Republican senators’ eleventh hour suggestion to delay a vote to ultimately enact JASTA is simply outrageous.

9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism consists of thousands of family members and survivors, seeking the truth, accountability and justice against all perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack against our nation. PassJASTA.org

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UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF SENATORS JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) & CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) S.2040, THE JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT – “JASTA” IS VOTED OUT OF COMMITTEE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420; David White: (202) 607-0766

 9/11 Victims’ Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism Applaud Senators John Cornyn’s and Chuck Schumer’s 19-0 vote in favor of JASTA

Legislation Ensures Justice Against Those Who Aid Terrorism and Deters Future Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2016 – S.2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (“JASTA”) passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee today with a 19-0 vote in favor of moving JASTA out of committee.  Senators urged Congress to act swiftly and to move the bill through both chambers of Congress.

Lead sponsor Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) pointed out that the families have suffered long enough and stated, “It is time to see JASTA passed and moved to the President’s desk for signature.”  Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) opening remarks reflected his longtime support of the 9/11 victims’ families and survivors quest for justice and thanked his fellow members for their support of JASTA.

Several Senators, including Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) went on record stating the need for this legislation. The ranking member, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), also a long time supporter of the 9/11 victims’ families and survivors, hopes to see JASTA pass in the Senate and move over to the House in a timely manner.

An amendment was introduced into the record supporting changes to the original language reflecting input by Republican leadership in the House. The counterpart to S.2040 is H.R 3815 in the House and is being championed by lead sponsor Rep. Peter King (R-NY, 2nd district) along with Jerold Nadler (D-NY, 10th district).

JASTA reaffirms the original intent of the “Anti-terrorism Act of 2001” (ATA) to hold accountable in U.S. courts those who provide material support toward terrorist attacks against Americans on American soil. In particular, it ensures that those who provided material support for the nineteen hijackers who carried out the worst terrorist attack on American soil can be held accountable in a U.S. court.

Marge Mathers, a 74 year-old widow from Texas who is seeking justice for the murder of her husband Charles Mathers in the brutal attacks of 9/11, attended the committee meeting and said, “While nothing will ever completely heal the pain of losing my husband in such a horrific way, I am thankful we have dedicated lawmakers such as Senator John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer who are leading the charge in D.C. for the prompt passage of JASTA. No family should ever have to suffer at the hands of terrorism and JASTA will certainly play an important role in deterring future attacks against our country.”

“The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act will create a path to justice for all the 9/11 victims’ families and survivors” said Terry Strada, National Chair of the 9/11 Victims’ Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism. Ms. Strada lost her husband, Tom Strada in the North Tower at the WTC. She also attended the committee meeting and added, “I remain dedicated to working with members of Congress for the swift passage of JASTA. It was an honor to witness the committee doing such great work in voting 19-0 in favor of JASTA. Listening to the Senators go on record for their strong support of JASTA and hearing the last aye spoken brought tears to my eyes. The justice we have been seeking for fourteen years will finally come closer to being a reality when JASTA is enacted into law.”

SENATORS JOHN CORNYN (R-TX) & CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) INTRODUCE JUSTICE AGAINST SPONSORS OF TERRORISM ACT – S.2040 – JASTA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Terry Strada: (973) 945-7420; David White: (202) 607-0766

9/11 Victims’ Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism Applaud Senators John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer’s Efforts to Guarantee a Path Toward Justice

Legislation Targets Those Who Aid in Terrorism Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 2015 – The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act S.2040 (“JASTA”) was introduced in the Senate on September 16, 2015 with 18 bipartisan cosponsors under the leadership of Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

JASTA ensures that those who provide the financing and support to terrorists who carry out attacks on U.S. soil, such as the nineteen al Qaeda hijackers and plotters behind September 11, are held accountable in U.S. courts.

By holding financiers accountable, JASTA also will deter other terrorist supporters from contributing to terrorist organizations. Depriving terrorist organizations of such sources of funding would materially degrade their ability to carry out terrorist attacks against Americans here in the homeland and abroad.

Marge Mathers, a 74 year-old widow from Texas who is seeking justice for the murder of her husband Charles Mathers said, “Thank God we have dedicated lawmakers such as Senator John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer who are leading the charge in D.C. for the passage of JASTA. While the terrorists who committed the cowardly act of murdering my husband died with the victims on that horrible day, the people who gave logistical and financial support to the nineteen terrorists have never been brought to justice. JASTA will lead us to our day in court.”

“The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act will allow victims’ of terrorism to seek justice – one of our most cherished American values” said Terry Strada of New Jersey, who lost her husband, Tom Strada in the North Tower at the WTC. “My commitment, dedication and conviction for justice has never been stronger. Fourteen years is a long time to wait for justice and JASTA will help us accomplish our goal of holding the bankrollers of 9/11 accountable in a U.S. court.”