A local veteran is making his voice heard in Washington, D.C. regarding a controversial bill that allows American victims of terrorism to sue state sponsors of terror. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act—or JASPA—was passed in September.
Mike Syra of Corcoran recently joined several veterans from different branches of service, in testifying before Congressional representatives regarding the bill. The vets were invited to the nation’s capital by the National Republican Trust (RNT), a political action committee. The purpose of their testimony was to encourage Congress to repel the quickly-passed legislation, which they feel is well-meaning, but could jeopardize U.S. men and women in uniform around the world.
According to the NRT, the law will make the United States more vulnerable to so-called “international” courts and will almost certainly harm American service members. The trust cited opposition to the law expressed by former Ambassador John Bolton and former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in a Wall Street Journal article.
In the article, the two said JASTA is much more likely to harm the U.S, than bring justice against any sponsor of terrorism. Both noted that there is already a law that permits U.S. citizens to sue any country our government has designated a state sponsor of terrorism. JASTA, however, does not require that designation.
However, the same is true in reverse: America’s diplomats, military personnel and intelligence operatives serve all over the world and have been sheltered by sovereign immunity, protecting them from being hauled into court by those who oppose U.S. policy. This could be especially problematic in countries where courts are considered puppets of the regime.
Syra was part of a group of veterans that represented all branches of service, from across the country. His group included representatives from Kansas, Florida, New Jersey and Vermont, as well as California.
The group started meetings as early as 5 a.m. on the two-day trip, with meeting lasting well into the night. They traveled from one office to another, meeting with Congressional and Senate representatives from Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Nebraska and Texas. Among the offices contacted by the group were those of Senators Lindsey Graham and Senator Ted Cruz.
The group told their elected officials that as past service memebrs, they were especially sensitive to laws that could increase a service member’s vulnerability. JASTA, they said, places an undue risk for U.S. service members, officials in foreign service and those who serve in unofficial capacities.
“That is why, with the elections now behind us, we strongly urge Congress to make the repeal of JASTA a legislative priority in 2016,” read a letter to U.S. Representatives.
The veterans group said it hopes Congress will find a legitimate way to support the families of the victims on 9/11 that rests on facts and does not undermine the country’s ability to protect U.S. power overseas.
Syra grew up in Corcoran. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1969 and was a radioman who served in Vietnam in 1969-1970.