Sanders, Clinton back away from Obama over 9/11 bill

Washington, April 24 (IANS) US Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are distancing themselves from President Barack Obama, also a Democrat, over a bill that would allow 9/11 victims to sue foreign governments.

The terror attacks on September 11, 2001, which killed nearly 3,000 people, mainly in New York and Washington DC, left in their wake thousands of bereaved US family members.

Some in the US Congress were pushing a bill that would allow victims’ families to sue in court foreign governments for playing a role in financing or otherwise supporting Al-Qaeda, the radical Islamist group that staged the deadly attacks, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Republican senators are split over the bill, and in an unusual twist, Democrats strongly support the bill, even though it puts them at loggerheads with Obama.

But while Obama has threatened to block the bill on fears of repercussions from some foreign governments, Sanders and Clinton have pledged their support for the bill, in an apparent bid to woo the voters who support it.

Clinton has said: “If there are people or institutions or governments who should be held accountable, that should be part of the bringing to justice anyone or any state that had any role in the horrors of 9/11.”

Obama is against the 9/11 legislation because it is upsetting relations with allies, Brookings Institution’s senior fellow Darrell West said.

Still, several presidential contenders support the bill because they want to give the families who lost loved ones the opportunity to sue foreign governments that were shown to have some involvement in the terrorist attack, West said.

Indeed, Sanders said earlier this week that he supports the legislation “that would allow Americans, including the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, to use US courts to determine if foreign entities are culpable for terrorist attacks in the US and seek restitution for the damage and lives lost.”

Sanders continued that he believes “it is time to declassify the 28-page section of the 9/11 Commission Report on the potential sources of foreign support received by the hijackers.”

He referred to the classified part of the official US government report that shows potential sources of support for the group of men that hijacked four commercial airplanes and flew them in a suicide mission into buildings in New York and Washington in the September 11 terror attacks.

“The families of those lost on that terrible day have the right to review any evidence that connects the hijackers to foreign supporters,” Sanders said.

“If no such connection exists, then our country deserves the information necessary to put that speculation behind us,” he added.

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