July 19, 2007

"Democrats want 'John Doe' provision cut"

Because, you know — if the public is allowed to remain vigilant, the terrorists will have won.

From the Washington Times:

Democrats are trying to pull a provision from a homeland security bill that will protect the public from being sued for reporting suspicious behavior that may lead to a terrorist attack, according to House Republican leadership aides.

The legislation, which moves to a House and Senate conference committee this afternoon, will implement final recommendations from the 911 Commission.

Rep. Pete King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican, sponsored the bill after a group of Muslim imams filed a lawsuit against U.S. Airways and unknown or “John Doe” passengers after they were removed for suspicious behavior aboard Flight 300 from Minneapolis to Phoenix on Nov. 20 before their removal.

“Democrats are trying to find any technical excuse to keep immunity out of the language of the bill to protect citizens, who in good faith, report suspicious activity to police or law enforcement,” Mr. King said in an interview last night.

“This is a slap in the face of good citizens who do their patriotic duty and come forward, and it caves in to radical Islamists,” Mr. King said.

[my emphases]

NRO’s Andrew McCarthy is among those outraged:

In November 2006, six Islamic leaders were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis after they were observed acting suspiciously-including not sitting in their assigned seats, asking for seatbelt extenders although not needing them, and making anti-American statements. The men were questioned by authorities and then cleared. However, in March 2007, with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the imams filed suit — not only against the airline but against the heroic “John Doe” passengers who reported their suspicious behavior.

Congressman Pete King (R., NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, sprang quickly into action, concluding that the lawsuits were cheap attempts to intimidate everyday Americans from taking action to help protect our country. Congressman King introduced an amendment to protect passengers and commuters against frivolous lawsuits such as those filed by the imams. The language was overwhelmingly adopted by the House in March, 304-121, as an amendment to H.R. 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007.


As Pete King’s office notes, in a post-9/11 reality, passenger vigilance is essential to our security. Given the variety of threats we face and terrorists’ history of targeting mass transit systems, encouraging passengers to report strange behavior to authorities is really just common sense. Failing to report suspicious behavior could end up costing thousands of lives — and while the “flying imams” don’t seem to understand this, the American people do. We must make certain that brave citizens who stand up and say something are given the protections they deserve. The King amendment does exactly that, and Democrats musn’t be allowed to strip it from the 9/11 conference report on a technicality.

The real question, I suppose, is why they wish to strip the provision. Is it, as they argue (though, tellingly, these arguments have not been made very publicly), that the provision runs afoul of procedural rules? Or is it that Democrats believe, with CAIR and likeminded groups, that these kinds of protections will lead to a kind of mass public hysteria that will stigmatize all Muslims trying to catch flights?

Republicans aides say they will put up a fight with Democrats when the conference committee begins at 1 p.m., to reinsert the language, but that public pressure is also needed.

To that end, here, courtesy of Michelle Malkin, are the appropriate contact numbers.

Take some time out from what you’re doing to express your concerns, if indeed you have any such concerns:

Congress switchboard: 202-224-3121
Nancy Pelosi’s office: 202-225-4965

Malkin also posts an email she received from Frank Gaffney, a portion of which I’ll excerpt here:

as a practical matter, the only way they could dispose of a provision which was initiated by the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Pete King of New York, after the insidious Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) brought suit against several “John Does” and adopted by the House of Representatives by a vote of 304-121 would be to snuff it in a conference committee. Word on the Hill is that it could be attempted TODAY.

Such a gambit should be made more difficult by the inclusion of similar language in the Senate version of what has come to be called the “9/11 Bill,” thanks to strong support in that chamber from, among others, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and his ranking minority member, Susan Collins of Maine. Still, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants are reportedly hoping to use a technicality – the fact that the King amendment was to a railroad security bill rather than the 9/11 bill – to strip it from the conference report. By so doing, the minority of the House that voted against the King amendment and that is made up of most radical left-wing members of their caucus would have the last word, to the delight of their Islamist friends at CAIR.

Making such a point of order would, of course mean that a similar objection could be registered to every other aspect of the railroad legislation – which includes a number of provisions near-and-dear to the hearts of Democrats, as well as Republicans on the conference committee. Unless, that is, no one is paying attention and the dastardly deed can be accomplished behind closed doors and out of the glare the public’s eye.

Thanks to Andy McCarthy for raising the alarm. Every one of us who understands the indispensable role alert private citizens can – and must – play in protecting the American people from future terrorist attacks should immediately contact Speaker Pelosi’s office (202-225-4965), their own congressional representatives and their favorite talk radio show hosts and bloggers. The message should be clear: Enact the King amendment – because our lives, literally, depend upon it.

I’m not sure Gaffney doesn’t overstate the case a bit — after all, I suspect that some Democrats (and even some Republicans) have legitimate concerns about how the provision could result in a flood of dead-end investigations that the Muslim community could conceivably argue “targets” Muslim airline passengers.

But the fact is, we have to weigh the benefits against the risks, and I’m inclined to agree with McCarthy (and King — and the majority who approved the provision) that our security is ill-served by leaving in place a legal loophole that could be exploited by Islamists hoping to frighten solicitous Americans into silence for fear of being exposed in frivolous law suits.

It’s bad enough that we live in a culture where criticism — even of presidential candidates — is being labeled “hate speech”; what we can’t afford to do is to compound that pernicious linguistic slippage until we find ourselves paralyzed by our own sanctimony into “tolerating” the intolerable for the sake of an Orwellian idea of “tolerance” that represents, by its very nature, its own antithesis — and reduces “free speech” to “culturally approved speech,” with approval rights more and more being turned over to those considered “authentic” enough to make such decisions.

h/t Ace; see also, Hot Air, where Bryan Preston writes:

Whose water are the Democrats carrying on this? It seems to come down to two suspects — trial lawyers or the mau mauers at CAIR. Or both.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:33am

Comments (16)

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  2. I simply cannot wait for a reporter to get an answer from the Speaker on “why did you try to pull(or succeed) the “John Doe” provision? That’ll happen, right?

  3. My money is on the trial lawyers.

    The Democratic Party has been in the pocket of the trial lawyers for over a generation. Anything that restricts the public’s right to sue, for whatever reason, will not be supported by the Dems.

    Throw in a self-described victim group, stir it with a heavy dose of identity politics, and you have a concoction that the Dems will never support.

  4. I don’t believe he overstates the case a bit. In a world where every 90 year old lady gets a full screening by TSA and I have them going through my trunk and glovebox while Achmed breezes right on by the “random” auto inspection, the only way things are going to get noticed is by the vigilance of the public. TSA airport ops are largely a joke, meant to be more visible than actually effective.

  5. Patrick —

    Well, I meant that he overstated the bit about the insidious nature of Democrats’ opposition.

    What is insidious is how sneaky they’ve been about it — but I’m not willing to dismiss their motives as entirely in bad faith.

  6. Already called Pelosi’s DC office…slightly rude staffer routed me to the “recorded” portion of their system….truly crazy!!

  7. Failing to report suspicious behavior could end up costing thousands of lives — and while the “flying imams” don’t seem to understand this…

    Anyone who believes this, stand on your head.

    If there were going to be a problem with the public maliciously or over-anxiously reporting the average flying Muslim who is minding his own beeswax, it would have already happened, and it would have happened in the first few months after 9/11.

    However, because CAIR and their fellow-travelers would like nothing better than to shut up “Islamophobes,” removing the John Doe provision would benefit only them and allow them to throw their Victim Status around with impunity.

    If I acted strangely on a plane, I’d get thrown off, too. Nobody cares if you Fly While Muslim; they care if you Fly While Insane.

  8. Jones nailed it. Trial lawyers literally own the Democrats. Homeland security and everything else comes second.


    TW: roaring master’s. Creepycreepycreepy.


  9. Somewhere in Hell, Mohammed Atta is giggling hysterically.

  10. Ah, that’s why I specifically requested Bernie Sanders’ office. I told the guy taking the info that the first time a bunch of people with concerns about a flight were blown up, I was going to hold everyone who helped shut this down personally responsible.

  11. Limbaugh was grumbling about this today: he leans toward the “trial lawyer” explanation.

    (tw: “tural tones,” which sure sounds like Rush)

  12. Dan;

    I’m guessing Bernie Sander’s guy farted in your general direction?

  13. I suspect that some Democrats (and even some Republicans) have legitimate concerns about how the provision could result in a flood of dead-end investigations

    I think you give them too much credit, and the American people too little. Peter King is simply trying to codify what I’d bet most Americans already thought was the case. Most people are shocked to find out they could be sued for reporting suspicious behavior and yet, prior to this discovery, they were not filing large numbers of frivolous reports.

  14. The Dems are completely bought and paid for by the trial lawyers, followed closely by the Unions, and education establishment. This one really is unfortunate. The campaign commercials should be fun though.

  15. Pingback: Wake up America-Dems, the terrorists best friends

  16. Rep. Pelosi’s voice mailbox is full. That is a no-no in Corporate America. I susepct she got more than a couple phone call today.