Sunday, July 29, 2007

Congress Gives Immunity To Air Passengers Reporting Suspicious Activities

On Friday, Congress passed and sent to the President for his signature HR 1, the bill implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. (Washington Post). Included in the Conference Committee's version of the bill that was enacted is a provision reacting to a lawsuit filed last year by a group of imams who were kept off a flight from Minneapolis after a number of passengers reported they were acting suspiciously. (See prior posting.) Significant concern was expressed when that lawsuit named unidentified air passengers as defendants. The provision, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2006, (as reported by the Washington Times) reads:
Any person who, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, makes or causes to be made, a voluntary report of covered activity to an authorized official shall be immune from civil liability under federal, state and local law for such report.
Debra Saunders in today's San Francisco Chronicle praises Congress for enacting the provision, as does Ericka Andersen at Human Events yesterday. They give special credit to the provision's co-sponsor, New York Rep. Peter King, and to Sens. Joe Leiberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) for getting Conference Committee approval of the so-called "John Doe" protections.

UDPDATE: The John Doe protections in HR 1 were the subject of July 30's Talk of the Nation from NPR. You can listen to the program online.