By Chris Salazar
Congress dealt a sharp rebuke to President Obama on Wed. Sept. 28 as they voted to override his veto and enact the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The legislation allows the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. But that move threatens to harm American interests as JASTA guts the principle of sovereign immunity, tempting other nations to answer our silly advance by suing American diplomats, military personnel and other officials in foreign courts.
The congressional gaff set a new precedent for gross ineptitude. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y) told reporters at a press conference the following day that “It appears as if there may be some unintended ramifications . . . nobody had really focused on the potential downside in terms of our international relationships, and I think it was just a ball dropped.”
Unfortunately, Congress’ sweeping, bipartisan vote to reject Obama and his pleas regarding national security fell on deaf ears—maybe they’re too preoccupied with their reelection as political virtue, or excellence, is often unconventional.
That is, a Machiavellian approach which relegates the traditional, lofty and honorable virtues to a sphere of irrelevance except when necessary. And even when such a necessity of circumstance arises, the import is the illusion of conventional virtues.
With 469 seats in Congress up for election on November’s ballot, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that our representatives acted less on their responsibilities to the American people and more on their career aspirations.
In a public letter, Obama wrote to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that "JASTA sweeps more broadly than 9/11 or Saudi Arabia, and its far-reaching implications would threaten to undermine important principles that protect the United States, including our U.S. Armed Forces and other officials overseas, without making us any safer."
Supposedly, the enactment of JASTA is about justice. In a statement about the legislature, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who worked in tandem with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) on the bill said that “Overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts.”
Fortune, the fickle ebb and flow of chance and collective sentiment, ignores no one but a politician’s livelihood hinges on their prudence—their ability to navigate the tumultuous sea of circumstance; foresight and control their proverbial north star.
So, the legal maneuver, allegedly favoring “families of the victims of 9/11,” may be in the honest pursuit of justice. Then again, it may not.