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US Senate passes bill exempting Iraq from Saddam-era lawsuits

[JURIST] The US Senate Tuesday passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 [HR 4986 materials], a military spending bill that includes a provision exemptimg Iraq from US lawsuits dating back to the regime of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive]. Sponsored by Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO) [official website], the bill passed the Senate 91-3 [roll call]. The House of Representatives passed an identical bill last week which also authorizes US military programs in 2008. When Congress passed a different version of the bill in late 2007 that would have allowed some lawsuits against Iraq to go ahead, the Iraqi government expressed concern that financial resources needed for the reconstruction of Iraq could be consumed by potential litigation. President Bush used a pocket veto [Senate backgrounder] and rejected the previous version [press release] of the bill, saying that the legislation would "imperil billions of dollars of Iraqi assets at a crucial juncture in that nation's reconstruction efforts and ... would undermine the foreign policy and commercial interests of the United States."

Other law-related provisions of the present bill allow private lawsuits against Libya for actions taken between 1979 and 2000 when the US designated the state as a terror sponsor. Reuters has more.

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