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A long time coming

Nearly lost in all the campaign rhetoric and discussion on which bathrooms should be used by whom and who gets to be the bathroom monitor was news that the U.S. Senate has okayed a bill which would allow families who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 September 11 attackers were Saudi nationals. Multiple plaintiffs who lost family members in the attacks have used lawsuits in an attempt to hold members of the Saudi royal family and various Saudi charities liable for allegedly giving financial aid to the attackers. Those suits have been largely blocked by a 1976 law that gives foreign nations some immunity from lawsuits in American courts. Whose bright idea was that? Though the Saudis have never clearly denied providing support to the terrorists, they have threatened to sell off $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets they hold in the U.S. to avoid the risk they might be frozen by our courts. Economists are skeptical the Saudis would follow through because such a sell off would be hard to execute and could hurt the Saudi economy worse than ours, according to the New York Times. The Senate bill will now be taken up in the U.S. House of Representatives where it is likely to pass quickly. Not surprisingly, President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation but Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York sponsored the bill and says the votes are there to override any such veto. America has long kissed up to the Saudi royals because we needed their oil. But, fracking technology and other advances have helped boost U.S. oil production and our dependence on foreign oil has dropped. The environmentalists run amok in the Obama administration have fought the American oil industry tooth and nail. If not for that, we might not need Saudi oil at all. It is not surprising that Obama sides with the Saudis. He spends so much time bowing down to Muslim leaders he might as well start a sandal shining business. But he is not alone. In the days after the 9-11 attacks, when Americans were absolutely prohibited from flying, the Bush administration quietly gave preferential treatment to the Saudis. Members of several prominent Saudi families were allowed to flee the country in their private jets despite the airspace shutdown. FBI agents took flights to multiple locations around the country to round up members of Osama bin Laden’s family and clandestinely flew them back to the sandbox. This was done to protect them from anti-Saudi, anti-Muslim retribution by outraged Americans. Donald Trump brought this up in one debate. Jeb Bush hemmed and hawed but never really disputed the flights his brother’s administration arranged. Hopefully those who lost family members in the deadliest ever attack on mainland American soil will get to argue their case in court. It will be interesting to watch. It will also be interesting to see if more information is forthcoming about the post September 11 exodus of Saudis on flights arranged and approved by the White House while you and I were grounded. Something just doesn’t smell right about this whole thing but we know for sure that justice for these families has been a long time coming. Hopefully it is on the near horizon now. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter. His email is

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