An advocacy organization representing scores of Iraqis killed or wounded by U.S. forces has threatened to sue the American government for war crimes, according to a recent announcement that cites a new bill as opening a pathway for citizens to sue foreign governments over terror attacks.
The Iraqi National Project, a group that advocates on the behalf of Iraqi nationals, says that it is laying the groundwork to sue the United States for its war effort in the country.
The announcement comes as Congress attempts to override a presidential veto of legislation that would provide Americans with the legal power to sue Saudi Arabia over its role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Critics of the legislation, including the White House, have warned that the bill would set a legal precedent that allows foreign governments to sue the United States over its past war efforts and for possible war crimes.
The Iraqi National Project cites this legislation as the impetus for its decision to move forward with lawsuits against the United States
"In light of the majority vote by the U.S. Congress and Senate in support of the 9/11 bill removing the sovereign immunity rights of Saudi Arabia and other countries accused of being implicated in terrorism—and in spite of President Obama’s veto on September 23rd 2016—we hereby declare that if this bill is actually passed and becomes a law, then it constitutes a window of opportunity for millions of Iraqis who have lost their sons and daughters in military operations by U.S. military forces and U.S. contracted forces since the U.S. invasion in 2003 to pursue compensation from the U.S. government for what they have endured," the letter states.
The group is planning to establish a committee comprised of Iraqi lawyers and judges, as well as international allies, to plot a way to advance such a lawsuit.
The group accuses the United States of launching attacks in Iraq that have been based on poor intelligence sources.
"These U.S. operations included bombings of civilians, arrests, torture (like in Abu Ghraib prison), and in numerous camps set up by the U.S. forces across Iraq," the letter states. "There are also tens of thousands of maimed and handicapped Iraqis as a result of this injustice."
"The majority of the injustices were based on very sketchy information and very discriminatory methods with numerous omissions from U.S. official and ex-officials," the document adds. "Once the 9/11 bill becomes law, we will endeavor and assist on a strong effort towards the formation of special committees seated by top Iraqi lawyers and judges along with numerous international legal advisers."
Congressional insiders who object to the 9/11 bill for what they describe as its flawed approach to providing U.S. terror victims legal recourse told the Free Beacon that the U.S. government is expecting to face an onslaught of similar lawsuits should Congress override Obama’s veto.
"When you hear critics talk about this bill setting a dangerous precedent, this is exactly what we mean. It’s backfiring before Congress even has a chance to override the veto," said one senior congressional aide tracking the matter. "The U.S. government is unnecessarily exposing itself to countless frivolous lawsuits and jeopardizing relations with a key strategic ally. Although well-intentioned, they need to take this bill back to the drawing board."
The House of Representatives is expected to override Obama’s veto later this week, despite objections from top congressional leaders such as Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.).
"I worry about legal matters. I worry about trial lawyers trying to get rich off of this. And I do worry about the precedence," Ryan told reporters last week. "At the same time, these victims do need to have their day in court."