A tension worthy of analysis through the eyes of James Morone is unfolding in the United States. It starts with a lawsuit filed by a group of families of 9/11 victims against the Saudi Arabian Government, charities and businesses. The families’ attorney’s claim that information found in the 9/11 Commission Report provides evidence that Saudi officials, and charities were involved in providing support to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers. The lawsuit has been struck down by a Federal Court ruling that there was not enough evidence to overcome Saudi Arabia’s sovereign immunity. In response to this congress proposed bill number S.2040 aka. Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. If passed this bill will take sovereign immunity away from foreign sponsors of terrorists, leaving them open for civil liability. The Obama Administration strongly opposes S.2040 on the premise that it will cause economic fall out and put Americans abroad at legal risk. The Saudi Government has threatened to liquidate treasury securities equaling 750 billion dollars, if the bill passes. The Saudi threat and opposition from the executive office are increasing party tensions in the capitol. Further, a 28 page section of the 9/11 Commission Report that believed to contain evidence implicating Saudi Arabian officials in the terrorist plot has been under classification for 13 years. Government secrecy surrounding the documents is fueling distrust in the government and angry accusations that the White House cares more about its Saudi interests than its own citizens. A recent 60 Minutes Segment titled 28 pages reveals some of the controversy surrounding the documents.
This case study is fine example of American Governmental checks and balances working against justice. The battle between the Executive and Legislative branch stagnates the ability of the 9/11 victim families to find out the truth about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks. The information in the classified documents may reveal serious implications for the Bush and Obama administrations and could potentially add to American’s distrust of government.
If United States Government officials, motivated to protect financial interests, buried information about a Saudi tie to one of the worst attacks on American soil, it will call into question the legitimacy of the “War on Terror”, and the willingness of the government to protect its citizens above all else. The conflict is now in the Gridlock stage described by James Morone in The Democratic Wish, its evolution remains to be seen. We will not know the full ramifications of the information concealed in the documents until they are declassified. In this situation Democratic leadership and transparency seem to be little more than a wish. Will this result in the outrage of the American people who would call for reform, will this reform be managed by even larger institutions that would essentially increase Congressional oversight of the Executive, or will this turn out to be little more than another attempt by Congress to wrestle power from the Executive?