A widow whose husband was killed while working at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, filed suit against Saudi Arabia recently. Stephanie Ross DeSimone’s suit is the first civil suit by an American citizen against Saudi Arabia over 9/11, according to GOP USA. DeSimone's suit says that Saudi Arabia should compensate her and her daughter for the death of DeSimone's husband, Navy Cmdr. Patrick Dunn, because Saudi Arabia is culpable for 9/11.

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DeSimone was able to file suit thanks to the recently enacted Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. JASTA allows the families of 9/11 victims to “take civil actions against foreign governments shown to be sponsors of terrorism” according to GOP USA.

President Barack Obama vetoed JASTA when it came to him to be signed into law, according to KQED. Congress worked together to override Obama’s veto. The Senate voted 97 to 1, and the House of Representatives voted 348 to 77 to bypass Obama's veto and enact the legislation. JASTA was the first successful congressional override of a presidential veto during the Obama administration.


KQED reports that President Obama said he vetoed the bill not because he’s against people seeking justice for wrongs perpetrated against them but because the bill could lead to the disappearance of “sovereign immunity” for the United States in other nations. Sovereign immunity is a long-practiced doctrine in international law that maintains that a sovereign nation cannot commit a legal wrong and is therefore immune from civil suits and criminal prosecution.

If other nations follow suit and enact laws similar to JASTA, the Obama administration fears that members of the U.S. government and even men and women serving in the U.S. military could be subject to lawsuits in foreign courts, according to KQED.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said to KQED that the erosion of sovereign immunity would be disastrous for the United States.

"Let's face it. We're the greatest nation on earth. We have more involvements around the world than any country," said Corker. "We've got assets deployed all around the world more than any country. So if sovereign immunity recedes, we're the nation that is most exposed."
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While it remains to be seen if JASTA will cause other nations to take civil action against the United States en masse, citizens in Iraq have petitioned their parliament to sue the United States for compensation for its actions during the Iraq War in 2003, according to Mint Press News. Mint Press News reported that a group called the Arab Project in Iraq called for “a full-fledged investigation over the killing of civilians targets, loss of properties and individuals who suffered torture and other mistreatment on the hand of US forces.”