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U.S. Congress Defies Obama On 9/11 Lawsuits Against Saudi Arabia

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Congress has defied President Barack Obama on the question of whether relatives of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks should be allowed to sue Saudi Arabia.

Congress' two chambers voted September 28 to override Obama's veto of legislation that authorized such lawsuits, handing Obama his first veto override of his nearly eight years in office.

The vote of more than two-thirds in both houses drew on strong support from both Republicans and Democrats and means the bill now becomes law.

The override was a blow to Obama, as well as Saudi Arabia, a stalwart ally in the Middle East.

Obama in an appearance on CNN called the override "a mistake" and "basically a political vote" by lawmakers facing re-election in November.

Obama said the bill sets a "dangerous precedent" that will encourage other countries to sue the United States and its military over what they see as abuses and damages from U.S. war actions.

"It's a dangerous precedent," he said. "If we eliminate this notion of sovereign immunity, then our men and women in uniform around the world could potentially start seeing ourselves subject to reciprocal loss."

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and CNN
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