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Iran Press TV

Obama slams 9/11 bill against Saudi Arabia

Iran Press TV

Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:58PM

US President Barack Obama has condemned legislation allowing victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to hold the Saudi ruling family accountable in US courts.

"This is a matter of how ... the United States approaches our interactions with other countries," Obama said Tuesday in an interview with "CBS This Morning."

The president argued that allowing Americans to "routinely start suing over governments" would open the floodgates to lawsuits by individuals in other countries against the US government.

The bipartisan bill, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, would allow families of victims of the 9/11 massacre and other attacks to sue foreign governments in cases "arising from a terrorist attack that kills an American on American soil."

Obama has come under intense pressure to declassify 28 pages of a 2002 congressional report which could implicate Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks.

A group of families who lost loved ones in the attacks wrote a letter to President Obama Monday, saying there was "no excuse for refusing to reveal the truth, whatever it may be."

"We were pleased to hear news reports, uncertain and conflicting as we may find them, that you are now reconsidering declassification of sections of the 9/11 Joint Inquiry report that address possible involvement in the attack by persons and institutions for which the Saudi government has responsibility."

Former US Sen. Robert Graham, co-chairman of the joint congressional commission that wrote the full 838-page report on 9/11, recently told CBS's "60 Minutes" the secret material could reveal a possible Saudi support network for the hijackers who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The former senator said the hijackers were "substantially" supported by elements within the Riyadh regime, as well as rich Saudi individuals and charities. Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

Obama told CBS that the US intelligence community has been reviewing the controversial documents and that James Clapper, director of national intelligence, must ensure that whatever is made public does not compromise "some major national security interest of the United States."

Saudi Arabia has threatened that it will sell off $750 billion in American assets if legislation to hold it liable for the 9/11 attacks is passed.

The White House said Monday that the president will veto the bill if it comes to his desk for approval.

The administration contends that broader concerns – rather than just the alliance with Saudi Arabia – are at risk, including a loss of immunity for US troops if the Saudis retaliate.

Obama was scheduled to leave Washington Tuesday and arrive Wednesday in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The visit is expected to be overshadowed by the debate over congressional efforts to expose any Saudi involvement in 9/11.

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