Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, initially opposed the legislation, expressing concern that it would lead to racial profiling.We are constantly being told to report any suspicious behavior that we observe. Our nation is just too huge for security officials to be everywhere. We need to be able to utilize the eyes and ears of the population to see if anything strange seems to be going on. Remember that the thwarted London bombing this summer was first uncovered when a car was observed being driven erratically and some ambulance attendants noticed something strange about the car after the driver left it. We can't have people afraid to speak up just because they are afraid of being sued later on. This provision needs to be restored to the bill. Let's see if the Democrats are willing to vote publicly against such protections for American bystanders.
House Republican Leader John Boehner yesterday warned Democrats of a public backlash if the "John Doe" provision is removed.
“That language was put into this bill with broad bipartisan support making it clear that having Americans protected from silly lawsuits if they notice suspicious behavior and report it is just plain common sense," Mr. Boehner said. "And why would they remove that language and I think they are asking for serious trouble if the language is in fact taken out.”
Mr. Pearce said Democrats made a choice as to "whether they are going to side with the American people or with the terrorists."
Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said failure to enact the provision will hold "the threat of endless litigation over the heads of the American people."
"Democrats are discouraging citizens from reporting suspicious behavior. And that, simply, leaves America vulnerable to terrorist attacks," Mr. Putnam said.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has information on the vote in the Senate that failed by three votes to get the 60 votes necessary to make sure that this provision made it into the bill. Check out the roll call on the vote.
Interesting facts: No Republican voted against it. GOP presidential candidate Sam “Switchback” Brownback didn’t bother to vote. Hillary voted for it. Obama sat it out:It's not too late to get this provision put back into the bill. Call your congressmen and women and let them know how important this is. Debra Burlingame, whose brother was one of the pilots who died on 9/11, puts this all in perspective.
He's your son, riding a commuter train to work. Your daughter, taking the subway to go shopping downtown. Your grandparent, boarding an airplane at JFK en route to a family reunion. Your husband or wife, working anywhere in America.As she concludes, let us not let political correctness and unsubstantiated fears of racial profiling prevent Congress from protecting individuals who observe something suspicious from speaking up.
John Doe is you. Me. All of us. And he's in trouble.
....Why? What could prevent any member of Congress from supporting no-brainer, bipartisan legislation that protects Good Samaritans from frivolous lawsuits? One possible motive: According to key Democrat leaders, John Doe protection will encourage "racial profiling."
Let's put this in perspective. The alleged conspiracy to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix was foiled by a Circuit City store clerk who alerted law enforcement after the suspects brought a video to the store for reformatting on DVD.
An FBI spokesman called the 23-year-old tipster an "unsung hero" and acknowledged that the plot would have gone undiscovered if he hadn't stepped forward. The hero clerk later told reporters that after seeing several Middle Eastern-looking men shouting "Allah Akbar" while firing assault rifles and engaging in military-type maneuvers on the video, he discussed overnight with his family whether or not to call authorities. Lucky for us, he made the right decision.
But would he have made that call if he thought getting it wrong might require defending himself against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit? Would you? "An overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of Congress supports protecting vigilant citizens who are our first and sometimes last resource in the War on Terror," said Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), co-author of the John Doe bill. "But unfortunately they're not going to get the support of the new majority leadership in Congress."