White House

President Barack Obama attempted to veto a new law that gives Americans the power to sue other counties when terrorism is involved, but Congress used its power to push the law through, anyway. Under it, when a terrorist attack happens in the United States and another country is connected to it, those who have lost loved ones can then sue that country for compensation. It is called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).

September 11

The most common example being cited is the largest terrorist attack on American soil: September 11th. It has been said that Saudi Arabia was connected to the attacks by sponsoring those who carried them out, though the country itself did not attack the United States. Because of that alleged backing, those who saw family members die on that tragic day could sue Saudi Arabia.

International Tension

The idea here seems to be that it's impossible to get financial compensation for a wrongful death from a terrorist group itself, but victims and families need somewhere to turn when they are wronged. Countries that helped make an attack possible are the logical target, as they're unable to hide and can afford to pay compensation.

However, opponents of the law say that it's going to cause international tension if Americans begin suing other countries. This could especially be true if those countries deny that they were involved or if there is not much in the way of solid proof tying them to the attacks. They say it could hurt diplomatic relations across the globe. After all, Saudi Arabia is just one example; legal experts have noted that the Act makes it possible to sue any country that is tied to an attack, not just those stereotypically associated with this behavior.

The president was opposed to the law because it could be used against the United States, as well. There are those who feel that aid to foreign rebel groups and foreign countries from the U.S. could be seen as financing military action elsewhere and causing wrongful death cases.

Your Right to Compensation

How effective this will be remains to be seen. Still, it is a big legal step, especially with the way the presidential veto was overridden, so it's important for people to know if they have a right to compensation under the new law when a loved one is killed.

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