WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed legislation sent up by Congress that seeks to allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue foreign governments complicit in the terrorist attacks.
The White House has indicated for days that the president would most likely reject the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which narrows the scope of foreign sovereign immunity by authorizing federal courts to hear criminal and civil cases against a foreign state or official suspected to have been involved in an act of international terrorism.
In the case of 9/11, If passed, the bill would allow relatives of victims to seek financial reparations from any nation accused of being complicit in the attacks -- perhaps most notably, Saudi Arabia, which has been linked indirectly to the 2001 attcks.
Obama said in his veto message that the bill would undermine U.S. national interests and possibly create severe diplomatic complications.
"I have 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," Obama wrote.
"I must veto the bill."
"It's not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members or even U.S. companies into courts all around the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said earlier this month.
However, Congress is expected to have sufficient support to override the president's veto. If that happens, it would be the first override of Obama's presidency.