The Corner

NRO Podcast: Pete King on Protecting Tipsters from Lawsuits

Rep. Peter King (R, N.Y.) stepped away from the debate over the war supplemental for a few minutes to talk to National Review Online today about another important piece of legislation: an amendment to the national security bill that would stop lawsuits against people who report suspicious activities relating to terrorism. The amendment passed the House, and it’s fate will now be decided in conference between the House and Senate. King hopes the role of an anonymous tipster in preventing the planned attack on Fort Dix will convince his colleagues how important this provision is. 

King proposed the measure in response to an episode in which six imams were kicked off a U.S. Airways flight after other passengers and the flight crew reported their behavior to law enforcement officials. The imams, with the help of CAIR, are suing the airline, the airport and several “John Doe” passengers for discrimination. The behavior alleged was corroborated by numerous passengers and airline officials and was so disruptive that U.S. Airways refused to let them board another flight, preferring to refund their money instead. But the imams’ complaint alleges that the passengers and crew made their complaints in “bad faith,” and that they were motivated by racism rather than real concerns about their safety. 

King warns that such lawsuits, if allowed to go through, would have a chilling effect on tips like the one that allowed the FBI to thwart the Fort Dix plotters: 

One thing we learned, after Sept. 11th especially, is that you can’t have the police and the FBI everywhere, especially with this type of enemy. And what you need is the eyes and ears of millions of Americans: people who live in communities, people who can spot suspicious activities, so that when they know something is out of order they can report it, and then let the police and the FBI and law enforcement decide what it constitutes. 

So long as people are reporting what they honestly see, or that they honestly believe they’re seeing and hearing, then that’s their job. They can’t be worried about getting sued later on and losing their job and their home and their life savings and being dragged through the courts.

King wraps up the talk by explaining what needs to happen to make sure this provision becomes law. Click the link below to download.

NRO Podcast: Pete King (6:08)

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