9/11

Congress May Have Transformed US-Saudi Relations While Overriding Obama's Veto

Bill allows 9/11 families to sue Saudi government, might be beginning of the end of U.S.' "special relationship" with the Kingdom.

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JASTA in your face
SHAWN THEW/EPA/Newscom

Saudi Arabia has long been a troublesome ally for the United States.

Sure, the government has provided space for military bases, but those ended up being Osama bin Laden's top grievance with the United States. And sure, the Saudis have been helpful in cracking down on some violent radical Islamist groups, but they've sponsored and created just as many. And yes, they're a major trading partner in both oil and arms, but they've also been using our military support to indiscriminately kill civilians in Yemen. And of course, they're basically among the worst in the world when it comes to freedom of speech and religion, women's rights, LGBT rights, and human rights in general.

But the special relationship between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States may be forever transformed by Congress handing President Obama an overwhelming veto override yesterday—the first of his administration—on a bill that strips immunity of foreign governments and their officials from lawsuits regarding terrorism on U.S. soil.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) enjoys its robust support in Congress due to its association with 9/11—and congresspeople don't want to be seen as voting against the interests of 9/11 victims' families in an election year, just weeks after the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks.

The bill was spurred by allegations that certain Saudi government officials provided financial support to 9/11 hijackers, which were detailed in the recently-released "28 Pages" of a congressional inquiry into 9/11. But President Obama and the few dissenters of the bill in Congress have argued JASTA is too broadly written and not limited to 9/11 victims' families, and that it could also make U.S. military personnel and officials liable to legal retaliation in foreign courts.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest called Congress' override of the president's veto "the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done" in decades, and that by not fully considering the consequences of the bill to diplomatic relations and military servicepeople, "Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today."

At least two senators who supported the bill and the veto override—Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)—have suggested trying to "tighten up" the bill during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress by limiting the legislation only to 9/11. The Washington Post quotes Corker as saying the bill as written could end up "exporting…foreign policy to trial lawyers" and make U.S. personnel liable for lawsuits from anything to drones strikes to support for Israel's military actions.

Congressional support for Saudi Arabia was once as good as a rubber stamp, but a number of congresspeople recently made a bipartisan push to restrict a more than $1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the Kingdom's bombardment of schools, hospitals, and civilians in Yemen. The resolution almost certainly will not have the support to stop the sale, but the pushback from Congress is new and noteworthy, regardless.

There are legitimate concerns about the reciprocal nature of laws pertaining to the liability of foreign officials, but editor emeritus of World Policy Journal David A. Andelman made some pretty weak arguments against the bill in a CNN op-ed. One of his concerns is that the Saudis could clamp down on oil production and thereby contribute to a rise in fuel prices worldwide. A fair if potentially overstated economic concern, but it assumes the Saudis would be more concerned with lawsuits than they are with their ongoing proxy war against Iran, where keeping oil prices low is in the Saudi interest.

An even worse argument Andelman makes is that American jobs could be lost if Saudi Arabia stops buying weapons from the U.S., even though the U.S. military-industrial complex is in no danger of running out of international clientele any time soon. Further, as William D. Hartung notes in Security Assistance Monitor:

Since taking office in January 2009, the Obama administration has offered over $115 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia in 42 separate deals, more than any U.S. administration in the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The majority of this equipment is still in the pipeline, and could tie the United States to the Saudi military for years to come.

U.S. arms offers to Saudi Arabia since 2009 have covered the full range of military equipment, from small arms and ammunition, to howitzers, to tanks and other armored vehicles, to attack helicopters and combat aircraft, to bombs and air-to-ground missiles, to missile defense systems, to combat ships. The United States also provides billions in services, including maintenance and training, to Saudi security forces.

It will take a lot more than JASTA becoming law as presently constructed for U.S.-Saudi military and economic interest to be untangled. But the fact that Congress no longer considers Saudi Arabia's government to be impervious to consequence is a development to watch closely.

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220 responses to “Congress May Have Transformed US-Saudi Relations While Overriding Obama's Veto

  1. So this means that the families of drone strike victims can sue the U.S. government, right? Right?

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        1. Suing Saudi Arabia?

    1. In their own courts? Maybe. Enforcing the verdict may be a problem, however. Not sure how much Pakistan or Afghanistan would be influenced one way or another about Saudi officials being in trouble, though.

      In US courts? Only if Congress passes similar legislation. Which, I’ll go on a limb and call it “somewhat unlikely”.

      1. The judgment-creditors could try to garnish US assets in their countries. But good luck garnishing a tank.

        1. Tank can’t leave the base ’cause it got booted, Predator drone getting towed away

          1. “Goddamn it, Specialist – what happened?”

            “Shit, TC – we threw a track….because we got Denver Booted!!!”

    2. I can just about guarantee you that any verdict by a foreign court against the US government or officials will be unenforcable in the US. Here’s where you run into sovereign immunity.

      They could try to enforce against assets that are under their jurisdiction, but I doubt there’s much there.

    3. Every downside anyone brings up just sounds like a plus for me. The US more hesitant to bomb shit in case of lawsuits?? Fuck yeah.

  2. It would be just peachy keen if US officials *cough* Secretary of State *cough* could be sued into oblivion for their interference in foreign countries *cough* Libya, Syria *cough*

    1. Why isn’t RAISIN reporting on Scarecrow’s coughing fits? What kind of secret health problems is he hiding from the commentariat? Will he even make it to the PM links?!

  3. handing President Obama an overwhelming veto override yesterday?the first of his administration

    Checks and balances wha wha.

    1. Oh I’m sure he’ll offer some regulatory “guidance” and various other diktats that will straighten this congressional intransigence out.

      1. Did the veto take away his pen and his phone?

      2. Or what b-m said directly below…

    2. They just told him to stick his pen and phone up his ass.

      1. Obama will instruct the “Justice” Department to stall every effort by 9-11 victims up to and including providing lawyers for the Saudis. If they could protect someone as worthless as Cheryl Mills then protecting the Evil Kingdom shouldn’t pose any problem. They’ll simply make sure that the judges involved have the “severed horse head in the bed” treatment.

  4. Even though it will be hard to extract any settlements from the Saudis, them having billions of unpaid funds to 9/11 survivors will make them politically impossible to support (in the US anyway). This is a very good thing-screw the Saudis.

    1. Even though it will be hard to extract any settlements from the Saudis,

      I’m not so sure. Saudi assets within our jurisdiction are probably pretty sizable, given the oil trade.

      1. It’s not just the oil trade. You could seize a good chunk of Twitter too.

      2. Could just invalidate T-Bills they currently hold.

    2. All the Saudis have to do is stop pricing oil in dollars, stop pegging their currency to the dollar, and stop buying weapons from the US. Saudi is probably second to China as the country which keeps reserve currency status going for the US$. And to the degree they actually drive the price of oil worldwide, the most significant. Our financial sector in particular is totally dependent on that status and I’m not sure it can take a hit of prob $50 or so billion a year.

      On the bright side, losing reserve currency status would help exports a lot; render US foreign policy a bit toothless when it comes to the blowhard stuff we do like sanctions; and make it impossible for the Fed to do much of its global market manipulation.

      I can understand why Obama vetoed it. It’s an ‘end of empire’ type of legislation

  5. “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done”

    Ugh. Don’t they care about Obama’s legacy?

    1. Some Afghani wedding participants would like to have a word. Oh wait, they can’t….

    2. Obama is so disappointed in us. We should feel ashamed.

  6. Not the Saudis! Whatever are we going to do?

    1. Don’t worry dude, I’m sure the US will find another murderous oil-rich autocrats to give reacharounds to. Hey, what’s Maduro up to these days?

      1. Point of order, Maduro is oil-poor. And that’s 100% of the Venezuelan problem.

  7. Our relationship with the Saudis was important because of the Cold War. Oil was mostly important because of the Cold War. When the Iranians joined the Soviets, that took their oil off the world market and sent it behind the Iron Curtain.

    Iran’s relationship with the Soviets was important because of the Cold War, and our relationship with the Saudis was important because if the Iranians took over or endangered the Saudi oil fields, the same thing that happened to BP’s oil assets in Iran would happen to Saudi oil–it would disappear off the international market.

    Our relationship with the Saudis is still important because Saudi Arabia is a check against Iranian expansion in the region. When we say the United States is fighting an ongoing proxy war in Yemen and elsewhere, understand that Saudi Arabia is our proxy against Iran’s proxies. So long as Iran remains an important enemy of the United States, our relationship with Saudi Arabia will still be important.

    Unfortunately, Barack Obama’s woefully foolish nuclear arms deal with Iran has all but ensured that Iran will remain a formidable enemy for the foreseeable future; indeed, Iran is all but certain to become a more formidable enemy than it is now because of Barack Obama’s woefully foolish nuclear arms deal with Iran. The more formidable an enemy Iran becomes, the more important our relationship with Saudi Arabia will become.

    1. In fact, if and when Iran performs a nuclear weapons test, be sure that Saudi Arabia will soon follow with a test of its own.

      1. We already HAVE a nuclear-powered ally in the reason to serve as a check for Iran.

        We don’t need to give fucking nukes to Wahhabi zealots and their horrible ideology.

        1. Regional conflicts under the shadow of nuclear weapons are ground affairs and Saudi Arabia offers all sorts of geographic advantages.

          Regardless, you seem to be talking about this as if foreign policy is some kind of test of purity of intention.

          We already have one ally, so we don’t need anymore?

          Wake up, Pollyanna!

        2. We already HAVE a nuclear-powered ally in the reason to serve as a check for Iran.

          And setting aside the most notable example, I think Pakistan has a far worse record as a sponsor of terrorism, a worse record as an ally in general and the fundamentalist sects in Pakistan are far more lawless and liable to generate instability.

    2. “So long as Iran remains an important enemy of the United States, our relationship with Saudi Arabia will still be important.”

      Fuck NO. The Wahhabi shits literally invented modern Islamic terrorism. Their ideology is what founded the basis for the deobandi. Their ideology drove the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.

      You think that fueling Islamic terrorism around the world is a GOOD TRADE OFF for a buffer against Iran when we already have Israel in our pocket?? That’s dumb.

      1. Iran will remain an enemy of the United States no matter how much you hate Wahabis or whatever.

        And having strategic allies against Iran will remain an important part of U.S. security policy no matter how you feel about their religion either.

        It’s simply beside the point.

    3. Obama and his State department thought they could tame the fanatics who Iran with diplomacy and an appeal to reason, showing no knowledge of history or the worldview of the people sitting across the table from them. You’re absolutely right–we and the Saudis have no other choice than to stick together for the sake of the global economy.

      1. No. We should stop funding the fucking terrorists. Wahhabism does nothing to benefit America, it only hurts us. We don’t fucking need their oil now that we have fracking. Cut them loose, or conquer the oil-rich regions of Saudi Arabia for ourselves. But for the love of all that is sane, stop funding that terrorist state!!

        1. 1. Someone will always want Saudi oil.
          2. The Saudis buy lots of US weapons
          3. So what do you think.

          Give it a rest.

          1. “The Saudis buy lots of US weapons”

            Oh no, the Military-Industrial Complex might not make as much money if we stop ARMING FUCKING TERRORISTS.

            Cry me a river.

          2. What’s with all the Wahhabi apologism??

            Oh, it’s okay that it’s an ideology that wants to kill us, because they buy weapons from us!!

            1. I think he’s saying that there is no option to stop funding terrorism through the Saudis, because if it isn’t us, somebody else will buy the oil. It doesn’t matter if the terrorism is being funded via USD or RMB, it’s still going to get funded no matter what. So we might as well wet our beaks while we can.

              Not saying I necessarily agree with the logic, but I believe that’s the point he’s making.

        2. If the Saudis start accepting currencies othe thaan the Yankee Dollar then we would have to call for regime change as a pretext for invasion.

          Let’s be careful what we wish for just in case we get it.

        3. We don’t fucking need their oil now that we have fracking.

          We haven’t been in the Middle East because we need oil. We’ve been there because oil needs dollars and has for over 100 years.

    4. Ken, respectfully you are full of shit.

      Our “special” relationship is based on two things: first Nixon’s petro-dollars deal and second to keep them inactive on Israel. We started that while the Shah was still on the throne.

      1. It didn’t matter where they sold the oil so long as it wasn’t to the communists.

        We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 because the winner promised to nationalize BP’s assets and they were friendly with the Soviets.

    5. Wow what a load of extortion and hostage taking propaganda. You don’t have to support a ‘crazy person’ because otherwise ‘that other crazy person’ will get too much power. Fool me once. #NeverAgain

      1. I wish I understood what the heck you’re talking about . . . I think.

    6. Oil is way too fungible and valuable for it to be locked up like that. You think Iran “gives” oil to Russia? My ass! They can get far too much hard currency to waste it like that. If they trade it for weapons, that frees up money to buy other things with. The biggest problem the US had during the two oil embargoes was price controls which kept it from being valuable enough to tell OPEC to fuck off. It was the worst response the US could have had.

      1. “Oil is way too fungible and valuable for it to be locked up like that.”

        That’s the way it is now–not when it went behind the iron curtain of the old Soviet Union.

        The AFL-CIO under George Meany was wildly anti-communist and nominally pro-free trade–because they saw the Soviet Union as an embargo against American labor.

        When oil went to the Soviet Union, it effectively6 exited the world market.

        1. If the USSR had a surplus they would have sold it to raise hard cash.

          If the USSR needed more, they would have had to buy it with hard cash or something else that Iran wanted, like weapons.

          Oil is fungible.

          1. Because the Soviets theoretically could have sold oil on the world market to raise . . . ahem . . . currency, it’s no big deal strategically if a big chunk of the world’s oil supply gets gobbled up by the Soviets and their allies?

            There are so many things wrong with that. Just because you’re against something doesn’t mean you have to support every stupid thing people say against it.

            Now, presumably, because you don’t like our relationship with Saudi Arabia, whether the Soviets controlled the world’s oil supply was of no strategic importance—during the Cold War?

            That’s what you’re going with?

            That’s how Jane Fonda went from opposing the Vietnam War on reasonable grounds to posing on an anti-aircraft battery with spent shells all around and vouching for the good treatment of tortured American POWs. Don’t fall into that trap. Just because you’re against something doesn’t mean you should believe everything everybody says against that thing.

            1. I’m not arguing ethics. I’m saying oil is fungible, and the idea that Iranian oil in Soviet hands was locked away from world markets is Krugmanesque misunderstanding of basic economics.

              1. “I’m not arguing ethics. I’m saying oil is fungible, and the idea that Iranian oil in Soviet hands was locked away from world markets is Krugmanesque misunderstanding of basic economics.”

                If you believe the Soviets were about trading oil with non-capitalist countries during the Cold War, then you’re an ignoramus.

                If you believe that oil wasn’t an incredibly important commodity during the Cold War or that the foreign policy of the USSR didn’t involve denying it to the U.S. and our allies, I don’t know what to say.

                Being aware that the USSR wasn’t an especially open market during the Cold War that actively traded oil on the international market does not make me Krugmanesque.

                It doesn’t make me knowledgeable either.

                In foreign policy terms, it means I can count to ten.

                1. Do you remember the USSR buying …. wheat…. from the west?

                  If you think it’s one set of ethics for wheat and another for oil, or that the laws of economics apply differently, please explain.

                  1. You’re tripling down on the stupid?

                    “Largely self-sufficient, the Soviet Union traded little in comparison to its economic strength. However, trade with noncommunist countries increased in the 1970s as the government sought to compensate gaps in domestic production with imports.

                    In general, fuels, metals, and timber were exported. Machinery, consumer goods, and sometimes grain were imported. In the 1980s trade with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) member states accounted for about half the country’s volume of trade.

                    The Soviet currency (ruble) was non-convertible after 1932 (when trade in gold-convertible “chervonets”, introduced by Lenin in NEP years, was suspended) until the late eighties. It was impossible (both for citizens and state-owned businesses) to freely buy or sell foreign currency

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Economy_of_the_Soviet_Union# Foreign_trade_and_currency

                    Talk about the Soviets selling oil on the world market to raise currency is retarded.

                    COMECON was the Eastern Bloc, and the rest of it mostly went to Soviet allies or clients in places like Cuba or Vietnam.

                    Why is it hard for you to understand that the Soviets weren’t into trading with the West?

            2. You probably also thought it was good to keep Saddam out of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, because he would …. I dunno … sell the oil they were already selling?

              It made no more difference than who controlled Iranian oil or what oil the Soviets controlled.

              Unless you are arguing that without Iranian oil, the Soviets would have been immobilized due to lack of oil, which is just as Krugmanesque.

              1. “It made no more difference than who controlled Iranian oil or what oil the Soviets controlled.”

                I’m sorry you feel like you have to make such ridiculous statements.

                I’d rather admit I was wrong than say willfully stupid shit like that.

                1. Then admit you are wrong.

                  Oil is fungible. All your sideshow arguments haev done nothing to refute that, everything to draw attention away from it.

                  1. Oil is fungible–when it isn’t bartered away to other communist bloc countries.

                    “Basic features of the state trading systems of the Comecon countries were multiple exchange rates and comprehensive exchange controls that severely restricted the convertibility of members’ currencies.

                    These features were rooted in the planned character of the members’ economies and their systems of administered prices. Currency inconvertibility in turn dictated bilateral balancing of accounts, which has been one of the basic objectives of intergovernmental trade agreements among members. An earlier system of bilateral clearing accounts was replaced on January 1, 1964, by accounts with the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, using the transferable ruble as the unit of account. Although the bank provided a centralized mechanism of trade accounting and swing credits to cover temporary imbalances, it could not establish a system of multilateral clearing because of the centrally planned nature of the members’ economies and the inconvertibility of their currencies. In 1987, the transferable ruble remained an artificial currency functioning as an accounting unit and was not a common instrument for multilateral settlement. For this reason, this currency continued to be termed “transferable” and not “convertible.”

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Comprehensive_Program_for_ Socialist_Economic_Integration

                    1. If oil disappears behind the iron curtain, is never converted into anything that is sold outside the communist bloc, and is never turned into any convertible currency, then how is it fungible?

                      They were communists.

                      Do you not know what that means?

                    2. How did the communists buy wheat from the west then?

                      If communists can buy wheat, they had hard cash; where did that come from?

                      If they can buy wheat, I guess they can sell oil or anything else.

                      You probably believe in trade deficits too.

                      Your economics literacy is piss poor.

                    3. Oil is fungible–when it isn’t bartered away

                      Barter is just another form of trade. You may as well say “sell” because that’s what both sides are doing.

                      Oil is fungible, whether you barter it or buy/sell it.

                      You keep on dancing around that with words that mean the same thing. I guess you think if you say “utilize” people will think it sounds better than “use”.

                    4. “Barter is just another form of trade.”

                      The oil was consumed without ever entering the world market.

                      As far as the world market was concerned, it might as well have never come out of the ground.

                      Things are different now that the Iron Curtain came down and the Soviet system of central planning disappeared.

                      Oil was a vitally important strategic resource during the Cold War because if the Soviets got control of it, either by themselves or through their proxies and allies, then it never entered the world market. That oil is no longer of such vital strategic importance because it doesn’t matter where you sell it so long as you sell it on the open market somewhere–is a blessing from the end of the Soviet Union specifically and communist central planning generally.

                      If Iran nationalized British Petroleum’s assets in their country and joined an alliance with the USSR, it was a much bigger deal then than it is now. Thank God the USSR is gone.

    7. Major problem with your analysis.

      The Saudis cannot afford to pull their oil off the global market. The minute the cash train from that oil stops the House of Saud comes toppling down and is replaced by a Wahabbi theocracy.

      You think Iran is going to conquer them and pull the oil off the market? Well they might try but wars, especially wars of conquest are expensive so if they are not selling their oil on the global market they’d never be able to finance the occupation of a hostile foreign country and lets face it, those Mullahs need pretty much all their military strength to keep their own populace in line, invading and occupying a neighbor is beyond their strength.

      No, that Saudi oil will be being sold to someone on the global market one way or another and oil being a fungible commodity, if they aren’t selling it to us they are selling it to someone else and we’ll just buy the oil that those other guys used to buy or replace it without own fracked supply.

      1. “The Saudis cannot afford to pull their oil off the global market.”

        My point was not that the United States is dependent on the Saudis to keep the oil pumping on the world market.

        My point was that our relationship with the Saudis was always about security, and as long as that remains true, it will be an important relationship–regardless of what happens with their oil.

        Read my statements again:

        “Our relationship with the Saudis was important because of the Cold War.”

        “Iran’s relationship with the Soviets was important because of the Cold War”

        “Our relationship with the Saudis is still important because Saudi Arabia is a check against Iranian expansion”

      2. The minute the cash train from that oil stops the House of Saud comes toppling down and is replaced by a Wahabbi theocracy.

        I have doubts the various Arabian tribes will be able to unite to form a government without a civil war.

    8. Saudi Arabia is our proxy against Iran’s proxies

      You have it backwards. The United States is one of Saudi Arabia’s proxies in its holy war to crush the Shiite heresy.

    9. Wait, but aren’t we fighting in the same side as Iran in Syria? I have no idea whose side the Saudis are on there.

      There was once a chart that tried to sort the mess that are Middle Eastern conflicts out. Only thing I got from it was we shouldn’t be involved.

    10. The chief check against Iranian expansion in the region is simple sectarianism and the relative populations of Sunni and Shia. Besides which, Iran has repeatedly flirted with liberalism, and a Persian Spring would actually probably be a net improvement. If we were going to pick a side, they would be the better option, though it would only be workable if we could get them to play nice with Israel.

      1. As many as 20% of Saudi Arabians are Shia. They’re scattered all over the Middle East. For the most part, religious strife between Shia and Sunni has been subdued. Remember, ISIS’ break with Al Qaeda occurred mostly over ISIS (back when ISIS was called Al Qaeda in Iraq) starting to target Shia civilians. Osama bin Laden* did not want them to attack Shia civilians. Religious strife between Shia and Sunni has mostly only been an issue in Iraq and Syria and mostly just limited to ISIS attacking Shia–since the Iraq War.

        Certainly, the state of Iran isn’t limited by fear of Sunni as much as it was limited by the Iraqi war machine (under Saddam Hussein) and by the military strength of the U.S. and its allies–particularly the nation of Israel and the nation of Saudi Arabia. Having Turkey and Egypt on our side doesn’t hurt either. If and when Iran tests a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will be hot to get them.

        All that being said,the Hajj can sometimes get complicated, and the mullahs no doubt would love to have their influence felt in Mecca.

  8. Fuck yes. Let’s cut loose the Wahhabi scum.

    1. Have to agree, here. The Saudis are their Wahabbist bullshit are one of the principle causes of Islamic terrorism.

  9. Until the Saudis can protect the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz themselves they’ll be a frenemy of the US.

    1. Having a strategic ally in the region to counterbalance a nuclear armed Iran is not a bad idea.

      1. Yeah. Sure.

        We already have one, though.

        We don’t need to fund terrorist attacks against OURSELVES through the fucking Wahhabi assholes just to counteract Iran.

        1. Think about how bad the Wahhabis will be if we stop being their ally. Keeping our enemy close and all that. We’re saying “nice doggie” until we can put our hands on a rock eventually.

          1. “Think about how bad the Wahhabis will be if we stop being their ally.”

            Yeah, they might start aggressively expansive terrorist states, or behead people over slight theological differences.

            Fucking hell, the Wahhabi political ideology is already the most violent political ideology on the planet right now.

            What are they gonna do if we stop giving them fucking weapons and funding, form a SECOND ISIS?? That’d be fine with me. ISIS wouldn’t be as scary as it was without US weapons and money behind it.

          2. How much worse are they going to do? Do you think they are not already doing as much damage as they are currently capable of? Now is as good a time as any to pick up that rock and use it.

        2. “We don’t need to fund terrorist attacks against OURSELVES”

          Go off the deep end much?

        3. We already have one, though.

          LOL. Oh, you meant Israel. We are their ally; they are not ours. Big difference.

      2. The enemy of your enemy can still be your enemy. How good an “ally” is the House of Saud when they are the engine that drive global Islamic terrorism?

        1. We can talk to them about cutting that shit out. Saying that as their ally works better than saying it as an enemy.

          1. How’s that been working out so far?

            1. ^ This, so much this

              Strongly worded letters won’t sew that shia cleric’s head back on.

              1. Unless we’re willing to show we can take ACTION against the fuckers, they’ll continue ignoring all the strongly worded letters condemning their actions.

        2. “The enemy of your enemy can still be your enemy. How good an “ally” is the House of Saud when they are the engine that drive global Islamic terrorism?”

          I don’t believe they are the engine that drives global Islamic terrorism.

          In fact, if Al Qaeda and ISIS agree on anything, it’s that the House of Saud should be overthrown.

          If they’re the engine that drives global Islamic terrorism, it’s because they’re authoritarians.

          If we replaced the House of Saud with their enemies, their enemies might make ISIS in Libya, Syria, and Iraq look like amateurs.

          1. Well just the underlying religious dogma, and the finance – but other than that.

            You are neck deep in stupid on this Ken.

            1. “Well just the underlying religious dogma”

              If you think we should forgo a strategic defense relationship because of people’s religion, then you’re the one that’s knee deep in stupid.

              As far as the finance goes, what are you talking about exactly?

              1. Ken, read the article linked below about US and Sunni. It isn’t religion per se, it is Wahhabism and it underlies the politics of Islamic extremism. The ME in general is a shit hole and you are exemplary in demonstrating American naivety about it.

                1. “Ken, read the article linked below about US and Sunni. It isn’t religion per se, it is Wahhabism and it underlies the politics of Islamic extremism. The ME in general is a shit hole and you are exemplary in demonstrating American naivety about it.”

                  The naive guy isn’t the one that’s talking about doing what’s in the best interests of the United States regardless of how ugly it is. That isn’t naivete. That’s pragmatism.

                  The naive guy is the one who thinks we should go to battle with 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. The naive guy is the one who thinks people’s religion is a problem that can be solved with foreign policy.

            2. The Saudis have founded and funded hundreds, maybe thousands, of Wahhabi mosques.

              Those are the ideological and operational core of Islamic terrorism.

              So I feel safe in saying the House of Saud is the engine of global Islamic terrorism, yes. Not the only one (Iran is another one), but the Saudis are the main one, yes.

              1. Some members of the House of Saud (there are 8,000+ of them) use their wealth to finance mosques and madrasas elsewhere in the world. The madrasas they finance are not specifically terrorist, and the radical ones they finance are mostly in opposition to those members of the House of Saud who are in power. That is to say, the official government with which we have a security relationship is largely in opposition to radicals. The Saudi government is fighting ISIS.

                One more time with feeling, the Saudi government is fighting against ISIS. . . . and Al Qaeda has always hated them.

                Al Qaeda and ISIS are a reaction against Saudi institutional Islam. They don’t have a fig leaf of institutional legitimacy to stand behind from the Imams in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else. It isn’t just that none of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence (AKA sharia courts) stand behind Al Qaeda and ISIS–it’s that all four schools have openly denounced them as heretics.

                1. Regardless, even if what you are saying were true, if it’s in the United States’ interests to have a security relationship with the Saudi government despite some of the powerful people in the country working against us, it’s still in our best interests. As long as they’re fighting our enemies and remain a threat to our enemies in the region, that’s what they can do.

                  And if there is anything that makes the Saudis fight against our enemies within their country, it’s having a strategic relationship with the United States. Trashing that relationship will not lower the threat to American security from Saudi extremists. It will open us up as a legitimate target. How can anyone imagine that the Saudi government would fight against anti-American interests within their own country if only they weren’t the allies of the United States?

                  2 + 2 does not equal potato.

  10. Congress May Have Transformed US-Saudi Relations…

    Long overdue. And i expect that the political leadership and State dept prefer it that way, frankly, because then they aren’t left holding the bag. “Can’t blame us! it was those populist rubes”

    Anyone who hasn’t read this, should

    1. Woefully accurate

    2. Also worth a listen = Peter Bacevitch on the history of US ME political/military engagement

  11. Um…yeah…always a little fuzzy with how one sues anyone on foreign soil…

    So let’s say Saddam Hussein sues me. Let’s say he wins. Let’s say I say, “Fuck off and die in a fire, Saddam!”

    Who exactly is going to enforce a lawsuit from a foreign government’s justice system?

    And let’s say it’s done in international court. What’s to prevent the SA from just saying fuck off, we are backing our own citizens?

    To collect, there has to be an enforcer. WHo is that, exactly?

    Any lawyers help me out here?

    1. The US enforced a successful lawsuit against Iran by seizing Iranian assets in US banks.

      They can likely do similar things against Saudis.

      Which will tank our relations with the Saudis, but that’s a win in my book.

      1. Okay, fair nuff.

        But that only works when you are suing a government, no? (Which would be the case here)

        What about suing individuals?

        1. If the individuals happen to have money held in the US, same thing.

        2. “What about suing individuals?”

          If you have an extradition treaty, you can get them in your country to face the trial. If you don’t, you at the very least bar them from your country and any other that has an extradition treaty with you. Keeping high-ranking Saudi officials out of the US sounds good to me. Since, you know, they organize terrorist attacks when they’re here.

        3. As long as that individual has assets which are under jurisdiction then those assets can be seized. The rulers of Saudi Arabia own massive quantities of US property in their own personal wealth portfolios.

    2. Seize Saudi government assets in the US, assuming that’s where the verdict was reached? Like you win a lawsuit right now and send the County Sheriff to the loser’s house to auction off his stuff to pay you back.

    3. Two ways. First, any assets the foreign government owns within the jurisdiction where you got your judgment are subject to seizure to satisfy that judgment. The Saudi Royal family and government has a significant amount assets that are subject to US jurisdiction.

      Second, countries recognize valid foreign judgments. To take your example, Saddam sues you in Iraqi court and wins some big judgment. You say fuck off. Even if he couldn’t get a US court to enforce it, he could likely get a foreign court to enforce it and seize any assets you have in those countries. You don’t have assets in Europe or Asia, but the Saudi government certainly does.

      1. Other shithole countries better be worried about this, too. Consider how much sovereign wealth has poured into US real estate and securities over the course of the Arab Spring, seeking safe investments. Same with China and Russia.

        1. I always laugh when I hear defense hawks talking about how China buying all of these assets in the US is some kind of national security threat. Its like they can’t grasp that the US government could take all of that any time it liked.

          1. “Now available: Affordable penthouse public housing, Manhattan, NYC, just off the park. Plenty of duplexes and brownstones opening up soon as well. Some homes may include looted foreign artwork and bearer bonds hidden under the floorboards. Contact, US Department of Justice, DC”

          2. And that is the real basis of international “law”. The greatest power gets to do whatever the fuck they like and everyone else can fuck off. You won a judgment against the US? That’s nice, how are you going to enforce it? Try seizing US assets and wait until you experience the retaliation.

          3. On the other hand, one reason all that money flowed here is that people felt it would be less likely to be seized versus parking it in, say, Venezuela.

    4. When you are a centre of the banking world, it’s a bit easier.

      “Yup, you guys are in the right. So, that account we froze 18 months ago? Have at it. Also, repossess those lovely penthouses. And if he shows up in US to visit his son at his university, have him arrested.”

      Harder for Sadam to do, unless you land in Baghdad and are like “Hey Saddam, I’m in town, wanna grab a falafel?”

      And if it’s on “not this official, but his government is responsible” you have an even greater range of options, from tariffs to garnishing foreign aid.

    5. IANAL, but this is about allowing US citizens to sue Saudi officials in US Courts. There is no way to compel their appearance or testimony, but if the US citizens prevail, including by default judgements (ie, if the Saudi doesn’t mount a defense) then any US assets can be frozen. That’s the whole point is to sweat them by freezing their assets. This was recently done against Sudanese officials by the families of the USS Cole victims.

    6. If you have money or stuff under his jurisdiction, Saddam can legally seize it to pay the tort. Otherwise, there isn’t shit he can do, but the judgment still hangs over your head.

      If it was in an international court, then presumably any nation that respects the authority of that court might also be obligated to seize your assets.

  12. The CIA argued vehemently against it – they know the Saudis will point the finger right back at them – because they provided the visas and training for the 9/11 hijackers, just as they had been doing for years with the Afghani mujahedeen. Since when does no one care about the CIA any more? It’s funny that Obama and Reid (the only Senator to vote against the veto override) are their staunchest defenders. The Troll-pocalypse approacheth….

    1. Wow, that’s incredible, aren’t you worried the Illuminati will come for you for revealing their secrets?

    2. I didn’t know the CIA issued visas.

  13. Will it transform my relations with Saudi women? I never had an Arab chick before.

    1. Admit it Jim, you just want to murder them.

      1. I think I can get away with it, therefore I am more likely than not to actually do the deed.

        1. It’s obvious!

          *returns to self-flagellating to drive out the impure thoughts*

    2. And you never will.

      *drops mic*

    3. We’ll dress Crusty in a burka and send him over, you’ll never know the difference.

        1. Does your pussy smell like oppression? That’s what I think the key distinction for Arab chicks is.

          And yes, this is why there are no female libertarians. Because they can’t get with the fucking program and realize that all women are life-support systems for the precious, precious vaginas.

          1. Calvin Kline is fucking overrated.

      1. He’d be able to tell. Arab women traditionally remove all hair below the neck; Crusty does the opposite of that.

        1. He adds hair to Arab women below their neck? With super glue? Or something else that I don’t want to think about?

      2. Initially I read that as ‘bend him over’.

        1. That too.

  14. Though I am against this law on principle (‘reciprocity’), I think it will help expose the fact that the real threat to the West isn’t ISIS, but Saudi Arabia. (And the American intelligence masterminds that orchestrated this.)

  15. Incidentally, is having trade and engagement with a foreign power a bad thing from a stability and security standpoint? Hasn’t our trade and engagement with China (as opposed to having regular battles over MFN trading privileges) proven to be a stabilizing force in the world? I remember when “Maoist rebel” designated the source of financing–more so than ideology.

    This is sort of like when people imagine that if only the United States cut off all support for Israel, then maybe the Israelis would treat the Palestinians with respect. . . . not realizing that if the United States cut off all support for Israel, Israel would be more likely to drive the Palestinian people into the sea.

    Do you think the South Koreans would tolerate North Korea shelling them or sinking their ships periodically if it weren’t for their relationship with the United States? If it weren’t for the United States, I suspect the South Koreans would have invaded in response to the North’s provocations long ago.

    Can you imagine what we Americans would do if Mexico did to San Diego what terrorists do to Israel or what North Korea does to South Korea?

    What does any of that have to do with Saudi Arabia?

    If Saudi Arabia were free of its relationship with the United States, they would not become paragons of virtue towards their neighbors and their internal dissenters. To suggest otherwise is hopelessly naive.

    1. Why did Pinochet hold an election and respect the results? I’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t because his regime had no relationship with the United States.

    2. Your opposition to this law just makes me want to support it even more.

      1. I’m not necessarily opposed to the law. In fact, I think I’m in favor of it.

        I’m opposed to the foolish reasoning being used to justify it in this article. It’s full of faulty assumptions that have little basis in reality–although they’re commonly accepted assumptions.

        Just because the victims of state sponsored terrorism should be free to sue the governments that sponsored the terrorism that hurt them doesn’t mean we should end our strategic arrangement with Saudi Arabia.

        Maybe we should do what’s in the best interests of American security regardless of whether the victims of terrorism should be free to sue.

        1. “our strategic arrangement with Saudi Arabia” = providing logistical support for them to export terrorism on a massive scale. No thank you.

          1. “Our strategic arrangement with Saudi Arabia” = providing logistical support for them to export terrorism on a massive scale.”

            Do you just randomly take things and put equal signs between them?

            A strategic ally against Iran = head chopping and child brides!

            Supporting trade with China = Prison Labor!

    3. “If Saudi Arabia were free of its relationship with the United States, they would not become paragons of virtue towards their neighbors and their internal dissenters.”

      Oh, so chopping off people’s heads is okay, as is founding terrorist groups and organizing terrorist attacks against us, because the alternative if they might become a second ISIS and get the shit kicked out of them by other countries in the region.

      Who the fuck cares if Saudi Arabia gets a BIT more violent?? Without US protection do you think the surrounding nations will put up with their shit??

      1. “Oh, so chopping off people’s heads is okay”

        Yes, that’s exactly what I said–you quoted it! Why state it again.

        Saying that, “If Saudi Arabia were free of its relationship with the United States, they would not become paragons of virtue towards their neighbors and their internal dissenters.” is the same thing as saying that, “Chopping off people’s heads is okay”.

        Either that or it’s pointing out that whatever leverage there is against Saudi Arabia chopping off people’s heads, it probably comes from their strategic allies–like the United States. If they weren’t worried about our relationship anymore, I suspect they’d chop off a lot more heads.

        It means one of the two or maybe something else that it doesn’t say. You just go back to arguing with the voices in your head, and I’m sure you can come up with something even better than that. Maybe what I wrote really means that we should all become polygamists!

        1. Though I think EBS is usually completely psycho, he does actually kinda have a point there.

          1. He may be a paranoid schizophrenic. I don’t know.

            Sometimes it’s hard to tell people who go bananas over Islam and paranoid schizophrenics.

        2. You’re willing to accept terrorist attacks against the US as a necessary evil because you imagine the Saudis will somehow be worse if we stop funding them.

          Who cares if they become more extreme after we stop giving them shit?? A more extremist enemy with less assets is preferable to a SLIGHTLY less extreme enemy with more. The Wahhabis are already founding violent expansive states, decapitating people, blowing up our buildings, and shooting our citizens. How much more extreme do they have to be before this relationship is not worth it??

          I would prefer a MORE extreme Saudi Arabia with less American assets to a “less” extreme Saudi Arabia that STILL ENACTS TERRORISM against us and others using vast American assets.

          1. “You’re willing to accept terrorist attacks against the US as a necessary evil”

            Are you on medication, or are you really that stupid?

          2. “You’re willing to accept terrorist attacks against the US as a necessary evil”

            When I say I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, do the voices in your head tell you that it really means, “Dicks out for Harambe”?

    4. Incidentally, is having trade and engagement with a foreign power a bad thing from a stability and security standpoint?

      Generally, sure, but there are exceptions.

      Of course, this law doesn’t terminate the oil trade or any other trade with the Saudis, and doesn’t close a single embassy, so I’m not sure what your point is.

      1. “Of course, this law doesn’t terminate the oil trade or any other trade with the Saudis, and doesn’t close a single embassy, so I’m not sure what your point is.

        Not sure I’m opposed to the idea of the victims of state sponsored terrorism being free to sue the governments that sponsored the terrorism.

        It’s ending the special relationship that bothers me.

        It’s stupid from a number of perspectives. Among them:

        “The Saudis have been helpful in cracking down on some violent radical Islamist groups, but they’ve sponsored and created just as many. And yes, they’re a major trading partner in both oil and arms, but they’ve also been using our military support to indiscriminately kill civilians in Yemen. And of course, they’re basically among the worst in the world when it comes to freedom of speech and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and human rights in general.”

        I’d take issue with the wording of some of those grievances; regardless, how many of them do you suppose would improve because of American disengagement?

      2. Do you imagine freedom of speech, religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, or human rights in general would improve because of American disengagement?

        Do you imagine they’d kill fewer civilians in Yemen if only they didn’t have their relationship with America to worry about?

        Do you imagine radical House of Saud family members (there are 8,000+) would be less free to finance anti-American interests abroad–if only the Saudi government didn’t have a relationship with the U.S. to worry about?

        The law I might support (in general spirit). It’s the stupid trash canning of our strategic relationship–despite it benefiting the U.S.–that bothers me.

      3. P.S. I also have a special distaste for idiot pollyannas whose primary understanding of foreign policy seems to have it that we shouldn’t do what’s in the best interests of American security unless our partners are the nicest, gentlest, sweetest, most democratic and loving people in the whole wide world.

        It isn’t always in the best interests of American security to make common cause with evil bastards, but when it is, it is. You want to argue that in the case of Saudi Arabia, it isn’t in our interests, I’m all ears. But my opinion of our security arrangements isn’t likely to change because some foreign country doesn’t let women drive and doesn’t support gay marriage–not by itself.

  16. This whole thing is more about US Treasuries and the petrodollar than it is about liabilities in foreign courts. It could get interesting for the financial markets if a case makes it to court.

  17. I hope all those nice military toys we sold them have some sort of secret “they can’t fire them at us” kill switch. Cause otherwise thats just dumb. So I am inclined to go with Just Dumb.

    1. Of course they do, same as the weapons the US sold bin Laden in the 70s and Iraq in the 80s.

      1. the weapons the US sold bin Laden in the 70s

        i had no idea you were a truther, Hugh.

        The US didn’t know who Osama bin Laden was until the 1990s. When he was in afghanistan, he was referred to as “one of those arab jihad-tourists” that had no role whatsoever in the fight against the soviets. And the US didn’t ‘sell them’ shit. we funnelled arms through pakistanis and saudis, and if any ever landed in their few hands, it wasn’t on purpose and certainly didn’t have any effect on anything.

        1. Actually I just didn’t know there was a difference between the foreign mujahadeen and the locals-only hipster mujahadeen in Afghanistan.

          1. I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or not, but the tension between native Afghani insurgent groups and foreign jihad-tourists, including the Pakistani Taliban (who are different than the Afghani Taliban), is a huge dynamic in the region.

            1. Yeah no I seriously had no idea. I was in diapers when the Mujahadeen fought the commies. My only source of information about foreign policy in the 80s is Bloom County comics.

              1. From what I understand everyone hates (and fears, because they’re fucking psychos) the Chechens.

                1. I think the “everyone” are really the more-upper-class (*college-educated) Arabs, who consider themselves the default Ideological Authorities in any arbitrary group of jihadi-douches, by virtue of their ethnic superiority, closer familial ties to Ol’ Mo’-daddy, money-connections, etc.

                  But the Chechens are the ones who have the decades of guerilla-warfare experience, and are often the most tactically-proficient about how to blow things up/kill lots of people. So, you tend to find the Chechens being the “Operations Commanders” in things like ISIS or whatever brand name is currently du-jour. But as you say, they’re often looked down upon or considered 2nd-class citizens despite their practical experience and proficiency.

  18. http://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1877199/…..st-wanted/

    Iraqi housewife beheads and cooks ISIS fighters to avenge the killing of her family. Now there is a woman who understands how to deal with these animals.

    1. That’s so awesome I really hope it’s true.

    2. You’d be into her, i bet, if she wasn’t so skinny.

      1. She’s WORKING on it, be patient!! Those ISIS fighters won’t eat themselves!!

    3. Jesus what a violent place. It’s macabre.

      Good for her and all but ISIS will get her eventually.

    4. ISIS fighters are probably kind of stringy and tough. I wonder, does she do a dry brine, first? Or possibly sous vide?

      1. I believe wet brine is the way to go for Long Pig.

      2. I think you would probably have to make some kind of a stew or curry.

        1. Those fuckers would probably be pretty good if you braised ’em for like eight hours, but who has time to do that AND run a militia?

    5. Bad ass, but it’s sad to think about what drove her to it.

  19. It would be just peachy keen if US officials *cough* Secretary of State *cough* could be sued into oblivion for their interference in foreign countries *cough* Libya, Syria *cough*

    I’d be okay with it if they snatched her off the street and took her home to be the star in a show trial.

  20. “Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today.”

    Not sure if this is sarcasm.

  21. The Washington Post quotes Corker as saying the bill as written could end up “exporting…foreign policy to trial lawyers” and make U.S. personnel liable for lawsuits from anything to drones strikes to support for Israel’s military actions.

    Oh jeez that would be terrible.

    1. Accountability is a bitch.

      1. It’s like L&O types bemoaning the chilling effects if police are held to a standard any higher than mass-casualty psychopath. “They might hesitate in split-second decisions!” Well, sweetheart, second-guessing is kinda the idea.

        1. Second guessing is for first losers, brah

          hth

          smooches

    2. Corker as saying the bill as written could . . . make U.S. personnel liable for lawsuits from anything to drones strikes to support for Israel’s military actions.

      Unless the bill also says “US personnel are liable for lawsuits filed by foreign countries”, he’s just lying.

      1. He’s not lying, merely discussing second order effects. Primary effects of legislation should not be the only consideration; second and third order effects must also be considered, or else a nation falls into a trap of doing really stupid things simply because they sounded good. The law does not give foreign nations sovereignty over our citizens, but by usurping sovereignty over foreigners it invites reciprocal behavior. As long as we remain the strong man on the block we don’t have to worry too much about reciprocity, as the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must, but relying on brute force is not always the smartest foreign policy to take.

  22. and that it could also make U.S. military personnel and officials liable to legal retaliation in foreign courts.

    Well, if a member of the US military or an official goes “off the reservation” and rapes a woman or kills an innocent person in another country, shouldn’t he subject to proper legal punishment in that jurisdiction? It’s not supposed to be a Praetorian Guard, and the perception that it is is at least part of what fuels resentment towards us.

    And aren’t we often sanctimoniously told by the libs like Obama and his ilk that 9/11 was a criminal act, and not an act of war? Well, if that’s true, then that means that any person anywhere in the world who knowingly and deliberately conspired with the 9/11 hijackers engaged in conspiracy to commit murder, and should be punished. Does Mofo not even really believe his own BS, or is he more more on the side of the Muslim conspirators than the American victims for some nefarious reason?

    1. That book won’t finish itself, fuckface!

      1. Dave, part of me truly feels sorry for you and all your fellow “sad clowns”.

        1. Delusional D, I feel sorry for you and all your fellow Trumpkins. I really do. It will get better I promise. First step is to admit you have a problem:

  23. Seriously, only America could respond to an ideology violently opposed to its own existence by allying with them and giving them money and weapons, and turning a blind eye when the money and weapons are used to kill American civilians because the ideology MIGHT be more extreme without America’s monetary support.

    Seriously. I would prefer a MORE extreme Saudi Arabia with less American assets to a “less” extreme Saudi Arabia that STILL ENACTS TERRORISM against us and others using vast American assets.

    1. Wow EBS – sometimes you say things that actually sound cogent and reasonable.

    2. Plus getting into a tiff with Iran. Since we insisted on disrupting our policy of mutual antagonism between Iran and Iraq maybe we can foment another stalemate conducive to our interests.

      *prepares for HM’s blistering correction*

      1. we insisted on disrupting our policy of mutual antagonism between Iran and Iraq

        *blistering correction*

        1. Aww snap.

        2. Seriously though, it seems like Obama is working to replace that strategy with one in which we play Israel off Iran, only now we have to raise Iran’s retributive power by permitting them to go ahead with their nuclear arsenal. That seems… unwise.

    3. It is amazing what a few hundred billion dollars in sovereign wealth will do. And it wasn’t just America, it is Europe as well.

    4. Well, only America and the EU and Israel, anyway.

  24. They vetoed Obama?!?!

    OMG OMG OMG CONGRESS IS SOOOO RAAACIST!

    1. No, Constitutional law professors hardest hit!

  25. Almost 140 comments on this article… 178 on the murderous humans article… 219 for Gary’s Johnson… 91 for Settle’s folly… and more than a couple on the previous two articles, not to mention almost 400 for the links.

    Are any of you actually working today?

    1. Thursday is the new Friday, brah.

  26. So we piss off the Saudi government. What will they do? Tell the US to get our military bases out of the Kingdom? OK, so we do that. Which means what? We’re no longer pissing off that portion of the Saudi population that objects to our having bases there, and reduces an important justification for anti-US terrorism by Islamic fanatics. How is this a loss?

    That one of bin Laden’s prime goals has been achieved (US out of the birthplace of Islam) is something I can live with – I’m alive and he’s dead.

    1. Didn’t US pull the bases after Ira

      1. Thanks, squirrels.

    2. Didn’t US pull their bases out after Iraq War 2? They were only there because Saddam invaded Kuwait and Saudis asked the US to stay in case he tries it again.

      Yup, Wiki says US bases got transferred to Saudis. There are still US advisors and technicians in there, but without them, the entire Saudi military would stop eventually, because all the shit would break down past the point of functioning. Since they were there before 1990, I don’t think Bin Laden had as huge a problem. And if booting non-Muslim technical contractors ever becomes Saudi policy, their oil industry is done.

  27. The Obama administration is just pissed off they didn’t get their way…like they always are. Fucking cry babies.

  28. Here’s an analysis by someone who might know something (I found this in a Google search and decided to link to it before I found out which side the guy was on):

    (“William S. Dodge is Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law and Co-Reporter for the Restatement (Fourth) of Foreign Relations Law: Jurisdiction. From August 2011 to July 2012, he served as Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State.”)

    “If one looks at state practice with respect to foreign sovereign immunity, one finds some situations in which states are consistently held to be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of other states, other situations in which states are consistently held not to be immune, other situations in which the practice is mixed, and still other situations in which there is no practice at all. How should one make sense of this practice?…

    1. “…There is lots of state practice supporting a territorial tort exception to sovereign immunity ? that is, an exception for torts that occur in the nation that would exercise jurisdiction over the foreign state. (See Jurisdictional Immunities paragraphs 62-79.) This is what allows Americans injured in traffic accidents by a foreign government employee to sue the foreign state for damages. One might argue that this state practice should be read narrowly to apply only in these sorts of situations. But states that have codified the exception have done so in general terms applicable to any tort…

      “[the prior American rule was that it was necessary that] the “entire tort” occurs within the United States….It is this limitation that JASTA would remove. JASTA would still require that there be “physical injury or death, or damage to or loss of property, occurring in the United States,” but it would make clear that the territorial tort exception applies “regardless of where the underlying tortious act or omission occurs.”

      “Customary international law does not seem to require the “entire tort” limitation….

      “I am not so sure that the terrorism exception violates customary international law….”

      [much of the article skipped; based on the bill as of April]

  29. White House press secretary Josh Earnest called Congress’ override of the president’s veto “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done” in decades

    Of course, he was just saying that because Congress dared to rebuke the black Jesus. Not out of any genuine policy concerns.

    1. Every time Josh opens his mouth his face gets just a little more punchable.

  30. “White House press secretary Josh Earnest called Congress’ override of the president’s veto “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done” in decades.”

    He has obviously forgotten a lot.

  31. I would say the U.S. and Saudi Arabia should negotiated a treaty (to be ratified by the Senate like all treaties) setting up a Claims Commission where American citizens can seek compensation from the Saudi government for Saudi-sponsored terror. There’s a bunch of international arbitrators registered at the Hague, right? Pick the Commission members randomly from among that crowd.

    Then block U.S. courts from hearing these cases, except to enforce the Commission rulings.

    The Saudis would pledge their embassy property, ambassadorial housing, etc. etc. as security for the payment of any Commission judgments, so that these assets will have to stay in the U.S. until the Commission stops hearing cases.

  32. RE: Congress May Have Transformed US-Saudi Relations While Overriding Obama’s Veto
    Bill allows 9/11 families to sue Saudi government, might be beginning of the end of U.S.’ “special relationship” with the Kingdom.

    One must not contradict Dear Leader’s wishes.
    If he wants no one that suffered during 9/11, then so be it.
    He knows what is best for us and Saudi Arabia, and suing those responsible for the destruction and death caused during 9/11 only gives the wrong message those responsible should be held accountable for their actions. This will only annoy the super-wealthy elitists in SA, and they may let us play in their sand box anymore.

  33. it’s good to know that 15 years after the event, politicians still have an inability to say “no” to anyone or anything 9/11 related.

  34. But the special relationship between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States may be forever transformed by Congress handing President Obama an overwhelming veto override yesterday

    Good! I hope it gets transformed into “non-existent”.

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