I mentioned this in an earlier post this morning, but am breaking it out because it deserves a stand-alone. The John Doe amendment is officially alive, well, and incorporated into the homeland security conference report. The Democrats who opposed it will be remembered:
After nearly a week of intense, behind-the-scenes wrangling, congressional negotiators late Tuesday agreed to include in the pending Sept. 11 security bill sweeping liability protections for citizens who report suspicious activity they fear might be linked to terrorism.
Just a reminder–here’s that Senate roll call vote on Susan Collins’ John Doe amendment from last week:
A joint statement on the inclusion of the John Doe Protections language for terrorism tipsters by House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security Peter King, R-N.Y., follows.
“This is a huge win — a hard-fought victory for House Republicans and, more importantly, for the American people,” King said.
“In a post-9/11 reality, vigilance is essential to security. Despite the Democratic opposition to this important homeland security measure, I’m thrilled to announce that common sense has prevailed and heroic Americans who report suspicious activity will be protected from frivolous lawsuits. The American people were heard and our country is safer because of it.”
Added Boehner: “I’m pleased that Democratic leaders finally decided to do the right thing and agreed with Republicans that we should be encouraging Americans to report potential terrorist activity to the proper authorities.”
“This much-needed measure is critical in the effort to confront the significant threats posed by Al Qaeda and other terrorists and protect the American people. I want to thank Reps. King and [New Mexico Republican Steve] Pearce for their leadership on this issue and their efforts to make America safer.”
Pearce’s office sends this:
Today, Congressman Steve Pearce strongly praised the inclusion of “John Doe” protections in the Homeland Security bill. Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, the new majority leadership in the House attempted last week to remove the provision, originally drafted by Rep. Pearce, which would give immunity to vigilant citizens that report suspicious activity to security officials.
“I am pleased to see that the pressure we created lead Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid to make the right decision about protecting alert Americans,” said Pearce. “The American people shouldn’t have to think twice about alerting security and law enforcement to potential terrorist attacks.”
“Vigilant citizens can often be the most useful weapon in the War on Terror,” he added. “It was unnerving to watch the majority leadership ignore this fact and push to protect potential terrorists rather than innocent Americans.”
Said Pearce: “We should be encouraging anyone who sees something to say something. Today, Congress has rightly decided to move forward with this common sense provision.”
You can watch the video of Pearce offering the original John Doe amendment here.
Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy:
The Center for Security Policy is gratified that its efforts, those of innumerable bloggers, radio talk show hosts and other public-minded citizens translated into an important legislative victory late last night. Thanks to the leadership of Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and especially that of Rep. Pete King, Sen. Collins’ counterpart on the House Homeland Security Committee, legislation along the lines of that adopted by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives last May at Rep. King’s initiative will shortly become law.
The language will provide protection against the sorts of harassment lawsuits filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) after several unidentified individuals reported six Muslim imams engaged in suspicious – and frightening – behavior prior to boarding a USAir flight in November 2006. CAIR has been identified as a front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood and is an un-indicted co-conspirator in an alleged terrorism-financing plot.
Center President Frank Gaffney said on learning of this extraordinary development:
“Thanks to courageous, principled and tenacious efforts by key legislators like Rep. King and Sens. Lieberman and Collins, the American people are going to be free to do their part in the War for the Free World – serving as indispensable eyes and ears for those trying to protect us against terrorism – without fear that the likes of CAIR will be suing them for doing so.”
“We are extremely grateful to these lawmakers and also to members of the Democratic leadership who opposed such efforts, but eventually relented in the face of an outpouring of public demands that the King amendment be enacted into law. We are even more appreciative of the efforts made by all those who helped alert the public to the need to engage so directly and, ultimately, so decisively.”
Now, stay vigilant.