Connecticut lawmakers urge Obama to sign 9/11 justice bill - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Connecticut lawmakers urge Obama to sign 9/11 justice bill

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal. (WFSB file photo) Sen. Richard Blumenthal. (WFSB file photo)

Connecticut lawmakers called on the president to sign a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue governments and terror organizations involved in the attacks. 

The "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act" passed the Senate in May with no opposition. Last Friday, it made it through the House of Representatives; but, lawmakers said the fight isn't over as it heads to the White House and President Barack Obama's desk.

The president indicated that he may veto it.

"This bill closes a loophole that denies a fair day in court to American victims of some of the most heinous terrorist attacks in our history," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal in a letter to Obama. "I urge you to sign this bill without delay."

He made his plea to the president Monday morning on the steps of the U.S. District Court in New Haven.

Families of Connecticut victims joined Blumenthal and Rep. Rosa DeLauro in urging the president's signature.

"We are begging our President, please do the right thing, do not hinder this legislation. Sign this bill and let it become law," said Brett Eagleson, who lost his father during the attacks. "Please do not let another anniversary of 9/11 go by. Honor the victims. Honor America and let's seek the truth."

Brett Eagleson said he lost his father, Bruce Eagleson, who had been helping coworkers escape the south tower of the World Trade Center.

"These families deserve the opportunity to seek justice and to achieve closure," DeLauro said.

The bill would allow the victims' families to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, but the government has denied any involvement in the attacks.

"Hijackers with limited English, no sources of funds [and] limited training can hijack commercial airliners and fly them into hitting a needle in a haystack of a building, that can't be done without support from another entity," Brett Eagleson said.

"If the Saudi Arabian government had no involvement in these insidious, horrific attacks on the United States 15 years ago, it has nothing to fear in a neutral, public forum," Blumenthal said.

The president has argued that the measure would hurt diplomatic ties with a key ally in the Middle East and open the door for other countries to sue the United States. Some local Connecticut victims' families have agreed.

If the president does veto it, Congress may have the votes to override it.

"I don't think we out to cow tow to Saudi Arabia," Blumenthal said. "It may be friendly for some purposes but even allies should be held accountable."

The families at the news conference said after all these years, they deserve an avenue to pursue justice.

"I think anybody would feel that way," said Gail Eagleson, wife of Bruce Eaglson. "If their loved one was murdered, they want to find out who did it and hold them accountable."

The nation marked 15 years since the attacks on Sunday.

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