LETTER: To protect Americans, amend or repeal JASTA David Robinson

The North State Journal | Madeline Gray

In October, Congress passed the well-intentioned Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) with overwhelming bipartisan support and then over-rode President Obama’s veto. JASTA narrows the scope of the legal doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity. It amends federal law in regards to civil claims against a foreign state for injuries, death, or damages from an act of international terrorism.Without specifically mentioning 9/11 victims, JASTA quickly permitted the filing of suits against the government of Saudi Arabia over its alleged involvement in the 2001 terror attacks.Whatever its intentions, JASTA opens a Pandora’s box — other nations will almost certainly amend their laws to permit their citizens to sue our military, diplomats, and government officials who are dutifully serving to protect our interests abroad. These lawsuits are particularly troubling to the men and women who serve in countries with questionable, often biased legal systems, that frequently blur the lines between civil and criminal actions.Fortunately, 28 senators with buyer’s remorse immediately signed a letter pledging to work in “a constructive manner to appropriately mitigate the unintended consequences” of the bill. Additionally, 19 high-ranking retired members of the military wrote to Congress, saying “Congress must take great care to ensure that soldiers must be able to do their jobs without threat of foreign influence or repercussion. We must do all we can to protect them from the potential legal action in far-away lands.”It is critical that a solution is crafted to protect our men and women in uniform and our diplomatic corps. Americans who so proudly and honorably serve our nation require the full support of Congress, including the amendment or repeal of a law that in practice undermines their ability to protect our great nation.David RobinsonFellow, Institute of Political LeadershipJapan’s Honorary Consul to North Carolina