CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday criticized Congress for voting to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would let families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia, calling them “misguided.”
“I find it hard to believe that they are supporting this override when I think many of them understand what the impact is going to be on U.S. national security issues,” Brennan said during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Washington.
His remarks came just hours after the Senate voted to override Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and shortly before the House followed suit.
Brennan called the legislation “badly misguided,” noting that the 9/11 Commission report found no evidence linking the Saudi government to the terrorist attacks.
Other countries, Brennan argued, would be compelled to enact similar laws that would harm U.S. interests abroad.
“Foreign governments are going to start to pass similar types of legislation that is going to haul the United States into court overseas even for the most frivolous charges and allegations,” he said.
Brennan also said that the Saudis are now “among our best counterterrorism partners around the world” and that the legislation could cause them to pull their investments out of the U.S. for fear that they would be vulnerable to lawsuits under the law.
The CIA director said he had made a visit to Capitol Hill earlier in the day. He released a statementjust before the vote Wednesday, acknowledging the emotional baggage that the issue carried.
“The events of that September day will stay with us forever,” Brennan said in the statement. “I can only imagine the lasting anguish that the families of the victims must feel, and I sympathize with their devoted efforts to find justice,” he said in a statement.
“However, I believe that the ‘Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act’ (JASTA) will have grave implications for the national security of the United States. The most damaging consequence would be for those US Government officials who dutifully work overseas on behalf of our country.”
By Harper Neidig