Why the Families of 9/11 Victims Want to Sue Saudi Arabia
On September 11, 2001, Margaret Mathers was living in New Jersey and her husband Charles was on his way to a meeting at the World Trade Center.
Mathers had scheduled a dentist appointment that morning but stayed home when a neighbor told her to turn on the TV after the first plane hit. They watched the second plane hit and Mathers remembers thinking, "We're at war. Somebody is at war with us and I don't know who it is."
Mathers didn't know what had become of her husband, but weeks later, officials found his remains. That didn't bring the sense of closure she and others hoped, nor did the memorial services that followed, the ceremonies honoring the victims, the wars fought in retribution.
Today she's on Capitol Hill, urging U.S. lawmakers to let her do the one thing she hopes will make things right – or as right as they can be. She, along with the families of other victims, are pressing the U.S. House of Representatives to pass JASTA – the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
"I want the name of a person who paid the hijackers," Mathers says.
The bill, which Sen. John Cornyn of Texas sponsored, passed the Senate. With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 just days away, the House is under pressure to follow suit.
But the Obama administration has promised a veto. Mathers says she's not looking for money – she wants accountability.
"I want somebody to be tried and convicted and executed," Mathers says. "And I want to be there at the execution."
Rachael Bade, reporter for Politico, says Republican sources in the House say they're likely to vote on the JASTA bill Friday, about four months after it passed the Senate.
"[JASTA] basically would allow the families of the victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia for damages," she says. "This goes against current international law, which bars families from suing another country. The reason why it hasn't gone anywhere over the past 15 years is because diplomats worry that this could hurt foreign policy with Saudi Arabia ... [and] they worry that civilians that live in other nations might actually sue the United States on other things in the future. So, this pressure has been building all week, right up to the anniversary."
What you'll hear in this segment:
– Why Obama plans to veto
– Whether Congress will try to override the veto, because Bade says it seems Congress will have the votes to do so
– Why there hasn't been public opposition to the bill
Post by Hannah McBride.