Saudi Arabia turns U.S. veterans against 9/11 families
In September 2016, much to the dismay and protest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Congress in large numbers overrode a presidential veto to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). In short JASTA allows U.S. victims of state sponsored terrorism to take those states to court and seek legal redress for a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. JASTA is another tool in the Global War on Terror. Many decry it is a stance against international norms. I submit, since 9/11, we live in a new world.
As we know, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. In the 28 previously classified pages of the 2002 Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Communities Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 report is a direct link between the 9/11 terrorists and Saudi officials. The Saudis, who are infamous for human rights abuses and fostering terrorism abroad, have plenty to hide, and the below is how they intend to keep the skeletons hidden.
Since the passage of JASTA, the Kingdom has embarked on a quiet campaign; the largest of its kind in the history of the U.S., not just in the halls of Congress, but across the nation. They have hired 17 lobby & PR firms in D.C., and numerous smaller regional firms spending reportedly $1.3 million a month to overturn the new law.
The Saudi strategy? Turn U.S. veterans against the 9/11 families by selling the veterans a false bill of goods, stating they and their brothers in arms, stand personally exposed to possible lawsuits from foreign states and citizens for defending our country or when forward deployed. In this effort, they’ve recruited retired officers to spew their propaganda even though, JASTA only allows a victim of terrorism to file suit against a nation for the role it played in financing and/or providing logistical support to the designated terrorist organization that carried out the attack. Diplomats, military personnel, contractors and U.S. citizens don’t fall under the scope of JASTA and any act of war is specifically excluded from the law. See: http://passjasta.org/facts/.
What are our veterans asked to do you might ask? Veterans are sent on an all expenses paid 3-4 day trip to D.C. at the lavish $500 a night Trump hotel. They are toured around Congress to lobby for an amendment or repeal of the law based on the Saudi talking points/falsities. But there’s a catch, before the trip, most are asked to send prewritten letters to 3-4 representatives in Congress, against the law or thanking them for their efforts to change it. How do I know this? I was approached and made the same offer. I declined.
I’m a U.S. Marine veteran. I was deployed to several conflicts and my career in international business has taken me all over the world. My second career in public relations and politics has given me a qualified perspective on this, so I’m not new to the concepts in question. One of which is, the Saudi idea, money can buy anything and anyone. In some parts of the world…it can.
One of our country’s most prized treasures is our heroic, selfless veterans. It’s evil to pit them against the families who have suffered so much at the hands of terrorism, the families the veterans risked their lives to defend, and against the families who continue to suffer new heartbreak, as 9/11 rescuers continue to die at an alarming rate due to their exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero while doing the unimaginable search and rescue after the Twin Towers came crashing down in New York City.
We should stand together with our 9/11 families and survivors, support JASTA, and warn our veterans not to become a pawn in this Saudi game.
Edward Vento is a U.S. Marine veteran and an international business branding and trade expert and currently works in government relations. He lives in Reno.