Yesterday, Obama was handed a stinging defeat by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. By a vote of 97-1 in the Senate, and 348-77 in the House, Congress overrode his veto of a bill that enables the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for its obvious complicity in the 9/11 attacks. The White House had rolled out an utter parade of horribles as to why this was a bad idea:
For starters, it will complicate the United State’s already complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia. But it also risks opening the door for foreign governments to return the gesture by amending their own laws to allow their citizens to sue the U.S. government and its employees in foreign courts. That would cause quite the headache for Washington given how active the United States is abroad with everything from drone strikes to foreign surveillance to backing foreign militias.
These arguments are basically specious bullsh**. Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is complicated because they have continued to be the single largest source of funding for Islamic terrorism in the world. We know this. The Saudi government knows this. But because the Saudi government sympathizes with the goals of the Wahhabism-plus-beheadings theology of ISIS and al-Qaeda it turns a blind eye as billions of dollars flow into those organizations from Saudi citizens. This bill does nothing more that call the Saudis into account for their duplicity and give them an incentive to change the way they do business. The United States and its soldiers have already been “tried” in any number of countries for actions before this bill became law, so it isn’t like any new jeopardy will attach to its passage.
If there was ever a time to do this, now is it as the Saudis desperately need us a counterweight to Obama’s new BFF, the terrorist regime in Iran.
The White House was not amused:
Q Josh, the Saudi bill — the Senate override of the Saudi bill came back. It’s the most overwhelming override vote of a presidential veto since 1983. I’m wondering both what your reaction is to that, but what the margin says about either the President’s effectiveness at this point in his term or the effectiveness of your argument on this issue.
MR. EARNEST: I would venture to say that this the single-most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983.
This seems to be just another of the silly and nonresponsive answers to press questions that has kept the Obama White House afloat for four long and ugly years. There are any number of things that the Senate has done since 1983 that are much more embarrassing. For Heaven’s sake, for years the Senate had a Ku Klux Klansman as its president pro tem. This is the body that included Ted Kennedy. This is the same Senate that, when under Democrat rule, tried to give Central America and Western Europe to the Soviets.
What Obama’s, and therefore Earnest’s, real complain is that this was an affront, an act of lèse-majesté committed upon the person of Barack Hussein Obama. Take, for instance, this headline from Politico: Congress disses Obama one last time. Far from dissing Obama, the story told is one of an Administration that refused to cooperate even with the Democrats in Congress to shape this bill in a way that was acceptable to the White House. Despite people from both sides of the aisle reaching out and asking the White House to participate.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the leading supporters of JASTA, said he was “surprised” at the White House’s pointed response Wednesday to the override vote.
“Let’s remember, with all due respect — and I said this to one of the senior White House officials last night — they were late to this game,” Blumenthal said. Asked why there was so little direct involvement, he responded: “I have no idea. I don’t know enough about the way the White House works.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said earlier this week that he shared “concerns,” but “it doesn’t seem important enough to this administration for the president to lift a finger.”
This bill was long overdue. It is to the everlasting shame of the Bush administration that they did not hold the individual Saudis who funded al-Qaeda before and after 9/11 as responsible as Osama bin Laden for that attack. That is passed in its present form is due solely to the imperiousness of a tiny ineffectual man who will soon be gone.