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Flying Imams "John Doe" gambit shot down by Congress
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, March 28, 2007

As you recall, the "flying Imams" initiated a law suit in the past week which not only named the airline and airport authority, but several "John Does" who were identified as airline passengers who had reported their suspicions about the intentions of the Imams to authorities:
House Republicans tonight surprised Democrats with a procedural vote to protect public-transportation passengers from being sued if they report suspicious activity — the first step by lawmakers to protect "John Doe" airline travelers already targeted in such a lawsuit.

[...]

Republicans said the lawsuit filed by six Muslim imams against US Airways and "John Does," passengers who reported suspicious behavior, could have a "chilling effect" on passengers who may fear being sued for acting vigilant.
Naturally not everyone agreed:
Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, opposed the motion over loud objections from colleagues on the House floor, forcing several calls to order from the chair.

"Absolutely they should have the ability to seek redress in a court of law," said Mr. Thompson, who suggested that protecting passengers from a lawsuit would encourage racial profiling.

"This might be well-intended, but it has unintended consequences," Mr. Thompson said ...
Absolutely they should have the ability to seek redress in a court of law. But there is a limit as to what that redress should entail as far as I'm concerned, and people acting in good faith because of obvious suspicious activity, so suspicious that hardly anyone will defend it, shouldn't be hauled into court for reporting it.

The rebuttal:
Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, offered the motion saying all Americans — airline passengers included — must be protected from lawsuits if they report suspicious behavior that may foreshadow a terrorist attack.

"All of our lives changed after September 11, and one of the most important things we have done is ask local citizens to do what they can to avoid another terrorist attack, if you see something, say something," said Mr. King.

"We have to stand by our people and report suspicious activity," he said. "I cannot imagine anyone would be opposed to this."

Mr. King called it a "disgrace" that the suit seeks to identify "people who acted out of good faith and reported what they thought was suspicious activity."
The moral of the story? It doesn't matter what religion, ethnic group or sex you are, if you act in a suspicious manner it is perfectly within the rights of those observing and possibly being effected by the outcome of such activity to report it to the proper authority. And I agree with Rep. King's position on this, as, I'm happy to report, did the House:
After a heated debate and calls for order, the motion to recommit the Democrats' Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007 back to committee with instructions to add the protective language passed on a vote of 304-121.
 
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"Absolutely they should have the ability to seek redress in a court of law," said Mr. Thompson, who suggested that protecting passengers from a lawsuit would encourage racial profiling.
Why is it important for us to determine the motivation of a person reporting suspicious behavior on an airliner?

If the behavior is genuinely suspicious, by whatever standard you choose to use, then does it really matter why the whistle-blower chose to report it?

We don’t use this racial profiling agument with respect to the reporting of other possible crimes. If an asian man calls the police to report that he witnessed a latino man raping a black woman, and the rape was later found to have occurred, could the latino suspect sue the asian witness for racially profiling him?

 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, opposed the motion over loud objections from colleagues on the House floor, forcing several calls to order from the chair.

"Absolutely they should have the ability to seek redress in a court of law," said Mr. Thompson, who suggested that protecting passengers from a lawsuit would encourage racial profiling.

"This might be well-intended, but it has unintended consequences," Mr. Thompson said ...
Heaven forbid someone’s sensibilities get offended! This fool places "racial profiling" over the potential safety of the aircraft.

He’s an incompetant and should be thrown out of his job ASAP.

Political correctness has unintended consequences also. Maybe one of them can be the Sears Tower being flown into and collapsed.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"We have to stand by our people and report suspicious activity,"
How long until Erb or Greenwald come in whining about the imprisoning of subversives?

Which of course has nothing to do with reality. It is a matter of a citizen of a constitutional republic wanting to defend his way of life. As long as Buhs is president, the left couldn’t care less about defending this country. Which is the same excuse they will probably use when Bush is gone to not defend us.
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://
I can’t make your trackbacks work so I’m just linking here (sorry, I know it’s bad netiquette): Jane and the Flying Imams

 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
WTF does this mean:
offered the motion saying all Americans — airline passengers included — must be protected from lawsuits if they report suspicious behavior that may foreshadow a terrorist attack.
"may foreshadow a terrorist attack"? By what standard? Can I report on the screaming baby and her mother in row 23? Seems likely:
"The Republican motion to recommit will ensure that any person that voluntarily reports suspicious activity — anything that could be a threat to transportation security — will be granted immunity from civil liability for the disclosure,"
Gosh, I was worried you wouldn’t hear my cries of warning over the awful din of the baby.

And this is quite nice:
[Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican] said the imams are "using courts to terrorize Americans."
Uhhh, isn’t that what we should be encouraging them to do in lieu of, say, other methods?
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
Ugh, you seem to have fallen out of the Stupid Tree and hit every branch coming down.
"may foreshadow a terrorist attack"? By what standard? Can I report on the screaming baby and her mother in row 23? Seems likely:
No, it doesn’t seem likely. Try telling the flight attendants — who no doubt are already aware of the nuisance — that a screaming baby is the front man for a terrorist plot.
Uhhh, isn’t that what we should be encouraging them to do in lieu of, say, other methods?
I think we should be encouraging them to not terrorize Americans in any form.
 
Written By: steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
"Seems likely" was a reference to the next quote, where immunity would be granted if you reported "anything that could be a threat to transportation security" - hence my "I won’t be able to warn the pilot of danger if the baby is drowning me out." Thus the baby’s screams "could be a threat" to "security."

And do we really need a federal law granting immunity in this instance? Do we think a jury in the U.S. is going to find a passenger on an airline liable when they in "good faith" reported "suspicious behavior"? Are there any other lawsuits other than the "Flying Imams" pending?
I think we should be encouraging them to not terrorize Americans in any form.
Well yes, but if they were limited to the courts we’ve won.

And if anyone has a link to what the "instructions to add the protective language" are, that would be interesting (and possibly more defensible than the statements quoted in the article McQ linked to).
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
Thus the baby’s screams "could be a threat" to "security."
Ugh, in your case, I could agree with that. Or did baby not refer to you?
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Well yes, but if they were limited to the courts we’ve won
No...if they’re dead, imprisoned or thwarted from causing trouble at any turn, THEN we’ve won.

Your definition of winning is seriuously flawed pal.

Remind me never to play team sports with you
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Ugh, in your case, I could agree with that. Or did baby not refer to you?
Oh good lord. McQ states:
Absolutely they should have the ability to seek redress in a court of law. But there is a limit as to what that redress should entail as far as I’m concerned, and people acting in good faith because of obvious suspicious activity, so suspicious that hardly anyone will defend it, shouldn’t be hauled into court for reporting it.
I agree with all of that except for the last. How do we know whether someone acted in "good faith because of obvious suspicious activity" unless there is some process for determining whether: (a) they acted in good faith; and (b) because of suspicious activity (even obvious or nuncontested)? Hence my rather silly hypotheticals - I claim immunity under the statute for my complaint about the baby’s screams.

Did I complain in good faith of someone’s suspicious activity - is it suspicious because I believe in good faith that it is, or does it have to be objectively suspicious? Does my good faith belief have to be objective?

I should note I don’t have the slightest idea of what statute the passengers were violating or what tort they were committing by reporting what they thought was suspicious behavior to the flight crew. I can’t imagine that they will actually end up being defendants at trial - most likely they will be interviewed and/or give depositions as to what they saw and what they said to the flight crew - as would most any material witness to acts that are the subject of a lawsuit.
 
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
Sorry Ugh, I don’t need to put up with being forced to testify, or forced to hire a lawyer. Their behavior was a calculated provocation, if not a dry run to test anti-hijacking measures.

Minimally, the imans should be prosecuted for failure to obey the orders of a flight crew, and be added to the do not fly list.

 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Well yes, but if they were limited to the courts we’ve won.
Now, what would limit them to the courts? Just ’cause they are working our courts doesn’t mean they are in any way limited to them.

It seems like this lawsuit (and the whole Imam act in this case) is designed to reduce our capability to deal with future attacks.

Essentially, this was one prong of a multifacited attack on the US. And it is interesting because it attempts to leverage our social institutions against us, even our own rule of law (assuming that our tort system can be considered part of the rule of law).

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Mr. King is right it is a disgrace that the flying Imam suit seeks to identify people who acted out of good faith and reported what they thought was suspicious activity. The flying Imams should thank Alah that we don’t do to them what they would do to us if we acted the way they do. They are hypocrites of the first order demanding the tolerance from others they would never practice themselves.
 
Written By: charles Miller
URL: http://
yeah, why should anyone have the right to confront their accuser in a courtroom. Who came up with that idea and snuck it into our legal system. Everyone knows real freedom will only come when an anonymous person is free to accuse you of a crime with no fear of ever having to explain the reason for it.
 
Written By: m@m.com
URL: http://

 
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