What’s So Bad About John Doe Protection ?by Doug Mataconis
Last week, the Democrats in Congress blocked an effort to give immunity from civil lawsuits to private citizens who reported what they believed to be suspicious activity from fellow airplane passengers:
[L]ast March, the House of Representatives passed by a 304-121 vote the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007, with language protecting from such lawsuits airline passengers who might report suspicious activity. All seemed well.
But last week, as Republicans tried to have the “John Doe” protection included in final homeland security legislation crafted by a House-Senate conference committee to implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, they found Democratic conferees blocking its inclusion.
“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,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. “I don’t see how you can have a homeland security bill without protecting people who come forward to report suspicious activity.”
But that, it would seem, is exactly what the Democratic Congress is proposing.
All of this, of course, goes back to the case of the so-called Flying Imams, a group of six supposed Muslim Imams who were flying on US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix.
As more than one person who was present on the flight has stated, these “imams” exhibited behavior that could, at best, have been described as suspicious.Â They apparently refused to sit in their assigned seats, requested seatbelt extensions that they plainly did not need, traveled on one-way tickets, and were overheard praising Osama bin Laden.
Whether any of this is true or not is, quite honestly, is irrelevent.
What matters is whether someone who notices these things and reports them to those in charge should be held liable in a civil court for doing so.
Given the current state of the world, and absent any evidence of an intent to specifically injure a specific person, the answer, it would seem should be quite obviously no.
Quite honestly, the War on Terror is far too serious to start getting the trial lawyers involved.