Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Protecting your right to be sued

Last week, Congress had before the vote a national security bill. No big deal. They get those all the time, these days, and nothing ever happens, does it? Our airports are veritable cesspools of laziness and corruption, just as they were a decade ago. Our communications systems are still vulnerable. We’re still heavily dependent upon foreign oil, labor, and manufactured goods. Our borders are still obscenely porous. And “sanctuary cities” are violating federal law to protect illegal immigrants, even when the individuals are convicted of hard crimes.

National security is a joke. Truly, the only people many of us feel we can trust are ourselves and our own -- and now, the Democrats in Congress are telling us that we can’t even do that.

As part of the most recent national security bill to be brought to the House, Peter King (R- NY) attached an amendment protecting private citizens from being sued for making “good faith” reports of suspicious activities. This was in response to what is now referred to as the “flying imams” case, from December of 2006.

In that case, several attendees of a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) conference in Minneapolis behaved in what was described by several witnesses and employees of an airline as “an unusual manner.” The group were disruptive, refused to sit in their assigned seats, demanded several seat belt extensions even though none needed one (and which they promptly tucked under their seats), and made statements in arabic supporting the actions and attitudes of bin Laden and al Qaeda, and implying threats against American citizens and government (this was reported by another passenger -- a Moslem, no less).

Because their behavior unnerved passengers and crew, they were removed from the flight and questioned by security staff and police. Eventually, they were allowed to take another flight home, after which they decided to sue the airline -- and all those passengers who had filed reports, but whose names had not been released. The imams filed a lawsuit against several “John Doe” witnesses.

This was clearly an attempt to intimidate private citizens, who have little money to spend on defense lawyers, into no longer reporting activity which causes them concern. It is little different from the gangster who knocks on your door at night, brandishes a gun, and says, “I’m setting up business across the street from you, I intend to kill my competitors, and I have your phone tapped.” It takes extraordinary courage, under such circumstances, to contact the authorities. (Let us remember, too, it was a private citizen -- an employee of an electronics chain store -- who reported the plot by the “Fort Dix Six.” )

But, at least, after the gangster is arrested, he can’t still rob you of all you own via the courts. Or, rather, he couldn’t. Pete King’s amendment would have guaranteed the private citizen protection, there.

Unfortunately, as King’s amendment came up, the Democrats in the House committee made certain it never saw the actual vote. They killed in before it saw daylight. And, when a similar protective bill was up before the Senate, Democrats -- and no others -- voted it down. Theirs was a strictly partisan action, and it serves the public ill.

Not only does this open the door for terrorist-support groups like CAIR to silence those who might report would-be terrorists, it can easily spill over so that any criminal will have the right to sue all witnesses. It undermines the right and responsibility of honest citizens to defend themselves. It also destroys the incentive to be a “Good Samaritan” -- if I try to help somebody, and somebody doesn’t like that I did so, I can get sued for all I have. Why, then, would I be kind to anybody?

Between this and Dem leaders’ unauthorized treaty visits -- and offers -- to Venezuela, Syria, Iran, North Korea and the Palestinian territory (all of whose leaders think it would be just dandy if America were to disappear, and would have no compunctions about helping make it happen), it’s been made very evident that the Democrats in Washington, D.C. -- our own Illinois Congressmen, included and especially -- would rather be seen as politically correct friends to our enemies than as loyal servants of the People of the United States of America.

Maybe they’re not really anti-American, but if the suit is in their size....

Suggested reading:

Michelle Malkin: Don't let the Dems kill the John Doe Amendment/
Captain Ed Morrissey: IBD: Why Do Democrats Want To Help Terrorists?
"I am John Doe" name tags, etc.

Update, Wednesday evening: It looks as though the people will win this one. Hooray for speaking up!

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