The Senate and House have passed a bill, without a roll call vote, that promises to bring relief to victims of the 9/11 attack but actually would harm the United States without bringing either compensation or accountability. President Obama has threatened to veto this bill, and should.

The legislation, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to allow anyone who suffers an injury in the United States to accuse foreign states of sponsoring a terrorist attack and sue for compensation. So, for example, a victim of the 9/11 attacks who believes that Israel lay behind the plot (a belief that is widespread in Europe and the Arab world) could sue that state and demand that it prove its innocence. All the generous rules of U.S. civil litigation would apply, including broad discovery and no risk of paying the other side’s costs.


Paul B. Stephan, U.S. Must Not Privatize Anti-Terrorism, Richmond Times-Dispatch (September 14, 2016).