The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted to override President Obama's veto of a bill that allows family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 to sue the Saudi government. The vote was 97-1 in the Senate and 348-77 in the House. What were they thinking?

Juan Cole at Informed Comment offers a number of reasons why the legislation is a huge mistake beginning with the fact that setting aside the benefits of "sovereign immunity" (which the legislation does) will come back to bite not only the United States government and its citizens serving overseas, but our economy as well.

A more elementary question lingers: How much compensation do surviving family members require? On the one hand, the death of a loved one can hardly be compensated for at all. On the other hand, most of those families and individuals were richly compensated with payments from the U.S. government through the unprecedented and controversial "Victims Compensation Fund," administered by the excellent Kenneth Feinberg. The fund dispersed $7 billion of government funds to 5,560 claimants with the median award being $1.7 million. Commonweal.

How much is enough?

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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