With the first lawsuit against Saudi Arabia filed last week, the US has inadvertently exposed itself to the long-overdue backlash for decades of reckless foreign policy.
As True Activist reported last week, the passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) became law when Congress overwhelmingly voted to override Obama’s veto, which even he had trouble justifying. Following the bill’s enactment as law, a September 11 widow became the first American to sue Saudi Arabia under the JASTA framework. Stephanie Ross DeSimone is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from the Saudi Kingdom for wrongful death and the intentional infliction of emotional stress. DeSimone is suing on behalf of her daughter, whose father, Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, was killed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Her lawsuit alleges that the Saudi Kingdom provided material support to Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, which resulted in Commander Dunn’s death. More lawsuits are likely to follow in the coming days, which will only add to the Saudi’s troubles as their economy is tanking. As mentioned in a previous article, a likely and unintended consequence of all this is Saudi Arabia’s likely retaliation, which could well be the selling of US-denominated securities – especially if their economic situation continues to unravel.
Yet, in an unexpected turn of events, JASTA appears to have not only weakened Saudi Arabia’s sovereign immunity but that of the US as well. Al-Arabiya News reports that the Iraqi group “Arab Project in Iraq” is pressing Iraqi parliament to demand compensation for the unjustifiable 2003 US Invasion of Iraq. The group is not only seeking compensation for the invasion that has since plunged the country into chaos, but also for other violations (i.e., war crimes) perpetrated by US forces during the occupation of Iraq. The lobbyist group has also asked for a full-fledged investigation over the killing of civilian targets, loss of property, and compensation for individuals who were tortured or mistreated by US forces.
Though this was not the intended effect of JASTA, it is likely that the Iraqi group will not be the first to take advantage of the precedent set by JASTA’s historic overturning of sovereign immunity. The US has a long list of war crimes and illegal actions abroad, including dozens of illegal coups executed in the last century as well as the instigation of numerous unjustifiable and horrific wars. Perhaps this explains the “buyer’s remorse” many senators have expressed since the bill’s successful override, with some congressmen suggesting that the bill be “modified” to avoid negative repercussions for the US. Fears that the consequences of JASTA would also extend to veterans were openly expressed by former Senator Larry Pressler, a Vietnam War veteran. Pressler openly worried that he, as well as other Vietnam veterans, could now be vulnerable to lawsuits from the Vietnam government:
As a Vietnam combat veteran, I could almost certainly be sued by the Vietnamese government or by a Vietnamese citizen. The Gulf War, Iraq War and Afghanistan War veterans are more protected by constitutional congressional actions, but we, Vietnam veterans, will be raw targets if Americans can sue Saudi Arabia.
However, the evidence suggests that this is fear-mongering, as JASTA weakens sovereign immunity for governments, not individuals. This means governments can now be sued for their role in war crimes and terrorist attacks. Individuals have always been fair game, though individuals belonging to the global elite are certainly more protected than others. If the US does indeed become the target of numerous lawsuits regarding its past criminal actions, perhaps the US government will finally start to think twice before instigating unnecessary, deadly wars at the expense of other nations and people.
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