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Connecticut Lawmakers Press Obama to Sign Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act

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Ron Cogswell flickr.com/photos/22711505@N05
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Creative Commons
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in August 2016, behind the base of the Washington Monument and the reflecting pool at the National Mall.

Just days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. House unanimously passed legislation that would allow families of the victims to have their day in court. The bill, which passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year, now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk, where politicians speculate it may be vetoed. 

But some Connecticut lawmakers are pressing the President to sign the bill.

Under U.S. law, victims are able to sue countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Currently, there are three such countries: Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act would allow victims and their families to sue countries, like Saudi Arabia, that do not have that designation.

Some lawmakers said there’s mounting evidence that Saudi Arabia played a significant role in the 9/11 attacks.

At a press conference Monday in New Haven, the wife and son of Bruce Eagleson of Middlefield -- who died in the World Trade Center attacks -- stood in support of the bill.

Eagleson's son Brett said a veto would be hard to accept.

"Hijackers with limited English, no sources of funds, limited training can hijack commercial airliners and fly them into... hitting a needle in a haystack of a building," Eagleson said. "That can’t be done without support from another entity. We want the truth. We want justice, and we want accountability."

Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro support the measure. But the White House has argued against it, raising concerns that it could strain diplomatic relations, and expose the U.S. to legal action in foreign courts.

Blumenthal said that’s a myth.

"The United States does not sponsor acts of terrorism in other countries, and the courts of law in other countries could not hold the U.S. responsible for acts that it does not do," said Blumenthal. "And the U.S. has nothing to fear from real justice." 

Blumenthal said the bill would close a technical loophole in an already existing sovereign immunities act.

The bill is scheduled to reach Obama’s desk within days. If vetoed, he could face the first veto override of his presidency.

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.

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