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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

Obama Unites Congressional Democrats, Republicans, in Overriding Veto Damaging 9/11 Families

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby was in the middle of his daily press briefing Wednesday when a reporter informed him that the House had just joined the Senate in overriding the presidential veto on a law permitting the families of 9/11 attacks victims to sue Saudi Arabia should it turn out that the Kingdom was involved in carrying out those attacks. The reporter wanted to know if the Obama Administration, as it had warned would happen, had been approached by any foreign government threatening to “pass legislation that could affect the sovereign immunity of the United States and U.S. officials abroad?”

As expected, Kirby admitted he was not aware “that any government has expressed an intention to do so since the President’s veto. Before the President’s veto, though,” he noted, “some of our European friends — who are less likely to have been affected by the intent of the law itself — have expressed concerns about the issue of sovereign immunity surrounding the law. … France being one of them.” But no country like, say, Saudi Arabia, has so far stated its intent to seek anti-American retribution.

Possibly because Saudi Arabia is not interested in alienating the American public even more at this stage of the game, when the Iranians are running roughshod along its borders and the only reliable protection for the Saudis comes from the US.

However, as Kirby pointed out, the new law, now officially on the books, is forcing the US’ European allies “to rethink the whole issue of sovereign immunity. We didn’t make that up. That was communicated to us by other countries.”

Is the State Dept. expecting diplomatic difficulty with Saudi Arabia as a result of the veto? In Kirby’s view, “it goes beyond just Saudi Arabia. It goes to a larger concern that we have had about this idea of sovereign immunity — not just for diplomats but for our troops, for US companies that operate overseas.”

Possibly. What was most poignant about this vote was the fact that Congressional Democrats clamored to support the veto override, signaling to their voters that they are not captives of an irrational White House on this and other issues. Congressman Jerry Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat whose 10th Congressional District actually includes Ground Zero, was adamant in attacking the president’s arguments.

“Despite the overblown rhetoric of some critics of this bill, JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) will not pose a threat to American military personnel or diplomats,” Nadler told the house. Debunking Kirby’s fretting, he added, “They would be absolutely protected if another country passed legislation mirroring this bill because JASTA applies only to governments. To the extent that a foreign government might pass broader legislation that would make American personnel subject to liability, that country would not be reciprocating. It would be engaging in a transparent and unjustifiable act of aggression.”

Nadler also noted that, despite Obama’s exaggerated fears, “the economic, diplomatic, and military strength of the United States makes such action unlikely, and any rogue state inclined to target US interests can already do so. We must not hold justice for the 9/11 families hostage to imagined fears.”

Over at the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cast the only vote in favor of Obama’s veto. No Democrat argued in favor of Obama’s version of reality before the vote. The Senate voted 97-1 Wednesday to override the veto.

The White House was irate, obviously, and spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One following the Senate override, “I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983.”

For speculations as to what act of the Senate Earnest was referring to, check out this website, which tried to figure it out (White House Is Profoundly Wrong About the Most Embarrassing Thing Senate Has Done). We went to Wikipedia (so you won’t have to) and dug up possible embarrassing things Joe may have been thinking about, although, to be fair, most of them were attributed to the president, not the Senate:

On February 24, 1983, a special Congressional commission released a report critical of the practice of Japanese internment during World War II. That sure was embarrassing, but the shameful stuff didn’t happen in 1983, obviously.

On April 18, 1983, the US Embassy was bombed in Beirut, resulting in 63 dead. Then, on October 23, 1983, simultaneous suicide truck-bombings destroyed both the French and the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, killing 241 US servicemen, 58 French paratroopers and 6 Lebanese civilians. That was horrifying and embarrassing, especially since at that point President Ronald Reagan decided to cut and run — a point not mentioned often enough in those stories glorifying him as a brave commander-in-chief.

Finally, on October 25, 1983, American troops invaded Grenada, possibly to show the US could still defeat somebody. Yes, that was pretty embarrassing.

Of course, Earnest was not referring to any of the above. He was merely responding to a reporter who had told him that Wednesday’s veto was the most overwhelming since a 1983 95-0 veto override. President Reagan vetoed a land bill that gave a few acres to six retired couples who had paid good money for it only to find out later that, due to a surveying error, it was still government property.

No Saudis were harmed in the commission of that other veto.


Obama Vetoes Bill Letting 9/11 Families Sue Saudi Arabia

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

President Obama on Friday vetoed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” which was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, helping families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia. The bill enables the families to sue the Kingdom should it be shown to be legally liable, having supported the attack. Out of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists, 15 were Saudi nationals.

Obama released a statement Friday, saying he bears “deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously. I also have a deep appreciation of these families’ desire to pursue justice and am strongly committed to assisting them in their efforts.”

However, the president explained, the 9/11 bill is sure to “invite consequential decisions to be made based upon incomplete information and risk having different courts reaching different conclusions about the culpability of individual foreign governments and their role in terrorist activities directed against the United States — which is neither an effective nor a coordinated way for us to respond to indications that a foreign government might have been behind a terrorist attack.”

Yes, he actually used that as his argument: it’s going to cause a mess in the courts system.

A group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism released a statement Friday saying it is “outraged and dismayed” over the president’s veto, arguing that his reasoning is “unconvincing and unsupportable.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she supports the bill. Her spokesman said in a statement that “Clinton continues to support the efforts by Senator Schumer and his colleagues in Congress to secure the ability of 9/11 families and other victims of terror to hold accountable those responsible. She would sign this legislation if it came to her desk.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Obama’s veto was “shameful,” adding in a statement: “That President Obama would deny the parents, spouses and children of those we lost on that horrific day the chance to close this painful chapter in their lives is a disgrace.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said earlier last week that he believes ” the votes are there for the override.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), who co-sponsored the bill, is on the record as promising to help override a veto.

This is the 12th veto by President Obama in his eight years in the White House, and none of his first 11 have been overturned. His predecessor, President GW Bush, used his veto power 12 times and was overturned four times. Out of President Bill Clinton’s 36 vetoes, two were overridden; President GHW Bush had 29 vetoes (in one term) and lost only one.


9/11 and Beyond: Dealing with Tragedy

Friday, September 16th, 2016


While in Southern California, Yishai spoke with renowned trauma and grieving expert Dr. Ken Druck about 9/11, about coping with terror in Israel, and about the death of Dr. Druck’s own daughter and his 5-point system of “honoring” the dead with a recipe for life.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Moshe Herman

The Danger Zone – 9/11 With Rabbi Aryel Nachman [audio]

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

This episode of the Danger Zone was recorded on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and we had the honor of having Rabbi Aryel Nachman Ben Chaim join us for an interview. Rabbi Nachman is the co-creator and artist of the Jewish comic strip, 4 Corners. He is also the author of “Zeyde and the Hidden Mine” which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He founded the world’s first interactive online synagogue, http://sevenbeggars.com/ and sat down for a candid discussion about terrorism, antisemitism and the world around us.


Israel News Talk Radio

Yishai Show: 9/11 and Beyond: Dealing with Tragedy [audio]

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

While in Southern California, Yishai spoke with renowned trauma and grieving expert Dr. Ken Druck about 9/11, about coping with terror in Israel, and about the death of Dr. Druck’s own daughter and his 5-point system of “honoring” the dead with a recipe for life.

The Land of Israel

Empowering 9/11 Families: The President Should Get Out Of The Way

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

As it now stands, President Obama intends to veto a bill passed unanimously by the Senate and House that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts based on its government’s alleged involvement in the attacks.

Despite evidence of such involvement, the Saudis have previously been immune from legal action in the United States pursuant to a 1976 American law recognizing the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which bars suits against foreign governments in U.S. courts.

While the previous law granted such immunity to foreign governments for terrorist attacks committed off American soil, the new law would carve out an exception for such acts carried out on American soil. The previous law was at the heart of a $655 million U.S. jury verdict against the PLO and the PA for terrorist acts committed In Israel, which was recently vacated by a federal appeals court. The court reasoned that the Constitution requires terrorist acts to have been committed in the U.S., or to have specifically targeted Americans overseas, for Americans to sue in U.S. courts.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that he anticipates the president will veto the legislation but that it hasn’t been presented to him yet. Mr. Earnest went on to explain that the new law was “objectionable” because it “opens the United States to the risk of being hauled into courts in countries around the world.”

New York Senator Charles Schumer, one of the prime movers of the legislation, said he thinks there would be enough votes to override a presidential veto.

It is certainly not an idle concern that there could be adverse repercussions for the U.S. should the new law actually take effect, but that risk should be trumped by the prospect of justice for 9/11 class victims. Additionally we must not forget that the U.S. is still a major power with significant leverage around the world. Further, if in practice the cases brought in U.S. courts are based on compelling rather than circumstantial evidence, the chances of retaliation might be diminished.

There is also something buried in the law that should have some impact. A belatedly added provision would allow a president to bring about an indefinite halt in any case brought against a foreign government if the Department of Justice can demonstrate that the administration was engaged in good faith settlement negotiations with a defendant country.

To be sure, this provision could enable the executive branch to unilaterally render insignificant a piece of legislation unanimously passed by the Senate and the House. However, since many who voted for the law are said to have misgivings over the retaliation issue, the way the legislation now reads is probably the most realistic way forward.

Editorial Board

Aftershocks of 9/11

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, Abu Yehuda}

Fifteen years ago, America took a punishing blow to the jaw, a strike aimed at its business, military and political centers of power. It was both a military and psychological blow, but above all it was a financial one.

The quality of American response was mixed. President Bush promised that anyone who wasn’t with us was against us, and crushed the Taliban. But then he depended on Afghans to fight and on Pakistanis to guard the Afghan border east of Tora Bora, and despite the deployment of massive firepower, Bin Laden escaped.

In 2003, the US invaded Iraq , which had no connection with 9/11, and managed the aftermath of Saddam’s quick defeat so badly that his deadly enemy, Iran – which was implicated in the attack – was enabled to ultimately gain control of much of that country. Elements in Saudi Arabia, including members of the royal family that were involved, also got off scot-free.

The US financial industry recovered from the destruction almost in its epicenter, although a minor recession occurred afterwards (the Big One hit in 2008, unrelated to 9/11). The Pentagon was repaired and the WTC was finally rebuilt.

Americans were angry and united immediately after the attacks. They wanted to use their massive military power to crush the terrorists and teach them a lesson that would end Islamic terrorism for 400 years, if not forever. But that didn’t happen. Instead, a massive quantity of human and financial resources were wasted in Iraq. The “spirit of 9/12” soon dissipated and political and business leaders became even more self-serving and corrupt than before.

President Bush took the line that the terrorists had “hijacked Islam” and tried to “build bridges” to American Muslims, who almost immediately began to make demands and complained about “islamophobia,” although there were remarkably few actual incidents of anti-Muslim prejudice. The groups chosen to represent Muslim opinion tended to be sympathetic with the goals, if not the methods, of radical Islamists.

But if Bush did not succeed in confronting the Islamic challenge to the West, Obama tried to make allies of the hostile Muslim world. For Obama there was no Islamic jihad against the West, only a few “extremists.” If Bush invaded the wrong country, Obama took the wrong side in the war.

Raised as a Muslim, Obama may not practice the faith today but he is so sympathetic to Islam and Muslims that it doesn’t matter. One of his first acts as president was to go to Cairo where he gave a speech promising to drastically change course after the confrontations since 2001. He made the well-known (and absurd) statement that “Islam has always been a part of America’s story,” promised to remove all US troops from Iraq by 2012 (thus giving the go-ahead to Iran and the forces that would become Da’esh), and equated Palestinian suffering “in pursuit of a homeland” to the Jewish Holocaust. He helped precipitate the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and he supported (and still supports) the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood against the pro-Western Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In the US, he decreed that it is forbidden to mention “Islamic terrorism” or to use the word “jihad” to describe it. He moved the American position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict closer to that of the Arabs, rejecting the Bush-Sharon understandings that construction in settlement blocs was acceptable and that a Palestinian right of return was off the table. He pushed Israel hard on settlement freezes and prisoner releases. During the 2014 war with Hamas, his administration called for Hamas allies Turkey and Qatar to be cease-fire mediators, cut off supplies to Israel of critical weapons, and even had the FAA embargo flights to Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport after one Hamas rocket landed in a nearby town.

But Obama’s signature foreign-policy “achievement” has been the nuclear deal with Iran, which not only guarantees Iran the right to produce nuclear weapons after its expiration, but has inadequate safeguards to prevent cheating that will allow the regime to go nuclear even sooner. If that wasn’t enough, it turns out that there are side agreements that loosen the already loose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities.

The administration has also taken the position that the UN Security Council resolution intended to limit Iran’s ballistic missile development is not binding, after supporting the cancellation of tougher resolutions as part of the deal. And finally, it has recently been revealed that the Obama Administration may have transferred as much as $33.6 billion in cash, on pallets to the Iranian regime.

Iran, which is the greatest supporter of terrorism today by virtue of its sponsorship of Hezbollah and other terror organizations, which has kept the Assad regime in business to the tune of half a million casualties and millions of refugees, now has the means to pay for almost unlimited terror attacks, worldwide. The 9/11 attacks only cost al-Qaeda about $500,000. Imagine what terrorists can do – will do – with $33.6 billion.

The 9/11 attacks were a great success. One estimate put the cost to the US at $3.3 trillion (a trillion is 1000 billion, 1×1012), including the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if the Iraq war ($860 billion, including veterans’ benefits) is subtracted, it is still a remarkable return on investment: each dollar invested by al-Qaeda cost America $4.8 million. America is still suffering the crippling effects of this blow.

The money had to come from somewhere. It came from the government, whose domestic programs and military preparedness have both been seriously impacted, but it also came directly from the pockets of businesses and individuals. Much greater suffering may be yet to come if the massive government debts that were incurred are made to evaporate by printing money.

It’s hard to distinguish the causes of the negative social and psychological trends that followed the attacks. Some may have no connection to it, but others clearly hark back to it. One is what could be called the 9/11 guilt complex: the feeling that “such a horrible thing would not have been done to us if we hadn’t deserved it.”

Bin Laden made much of the guilt of the US for “colonialism” (although Western colonialism in the Arab world was short-lived and mostly perpetrated by the French and British), as well as for its support for Israel. In America, the remark that 9/11 was payback for the nation’s “crimes” was sometimes heard, and indeed Barack Obama hinted on several occasions that Americans are as responsible for terrorist mass murders as the terrorists who pulled the triggers. Of course, after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Muslim world has an almost unlimited supply of grievances against the US to “pay back.”

There is also the frustration that Americans feel because they know that although Bin Laden himself was finally killed, the forces that he represented are stronger than ever. They feel the humiliation and the weakness of their country. American sailors are captured and mistreated, and instead of punishing the Iranians, their government meekly apologizes. It pays ransom for hostages. A jihadist murders 49 in a nightclub and their president lectures them on gun control and tolerance for LGBT people. The enemy is primitive and contemptible, and yet for some reason their leaders can’t or won’t confront it. They feel like animals waiting to be slaughtered by the next terrorist outrage, and they don’t like the feeling. Perhaps this is behind some of the conspiracy theories about 9/11 that are so popular.

It seems to me that the US has gone rapidly downhill, economically, socially and politically, since 2001. 9/11 was a historical inflection point, a watershed moment, a date that will certainly be in future history books. Osama Bin Laden didn’t end the Age of America by knocking down a couple of buildings and making a hole in a third, and even by killing almost 3000 innocents and heroic first responders – there is no way he could have done that. But his blow destabilized an already wobbly nation. And the Islamic jihad, as embodied by the soon-to-be-nuclear Iran and the less-confrontational but equally patient Muslim Brotherhood, is waiting for its chance to step in and deliver an even worse blow.

The US has historically had the ability to make big mistakes and its large area, relative isolation and plentiful natural resources gave it the resilience to recover. I suspect that now it has less leeway, less ‘strategic depth’ in the broadest sense, than ever before. America now needs leadership that will not make any more big mistakes, will understand the threat, and will enunciate an ideology that will inspire its people to pull together in a way that they are not accustomed to doing. He or she will have to restore national pride in its citizens as well as respect and deterrence among the nations.

If America goes down, so does that thing called Western civilization. Unfortunately, the American political system has failed: there is no such leader anywhere near the horizon. America needs a Winston Churchill, but at least in this coming election, it isn’t even going to get a Warren Harding.

Vic Rosenthal

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/abu-yehuda/aftershocks-of-911/2016/09/14/

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