NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama is intent on vetoing legislation that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.
The legislation gives victims’ families the right to sue in U.S. court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest says other countries could use the legislation as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats, U.S. service members or U.S. companies into court.
Long Island Congressman Peter King disagrees, saying the amendment is narrow in scope, it does not allow all lawsuits and is meant to help Sept. 11 families and other victims of terrorism.
“This law is finely drawn. It only applies to acts of terrorism that are supported or funded or planned by a foreign government,” King said. “You’d have to have a foreign government actually planning and coordinating and working and being behind a terrorist attack in the United States such as 9/11. That’s all it is.”
Earnest also said the executive branch can already designate certain countries as state sponsors of terrorism, and the bill would give judges across the country the ability to make a similar designation. He says that’s not an effective response to terrorism.
The House passed the legislation Friday by voice vote, about four months after the measure cleared the Senate despite vehement objections from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
King said Sept. 11 families deserve their day in court and he’s confident Congress will override the president’s veto, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
Saudi Arabia denies involvement in the terror attacks.
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