John Doe protection

Trial sought as ‘Flying Imams’ sue police, airport, US Airways, employees

Audrey Hudson at the Washington Times reports that US Airways, airport seek trial in imams’ suit:

US Airways and Minneapolis airport officials are demanding a jury trial in a civil rights lawsuit filed by a group of Muslim imams who were removed from a flight for suspicious behavior.

The airline and Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which oversees Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, are also claiming immunity for their employees named in the suit, citing a “John Doe” law passed by Congress last year that, among other things, protects people acting in an official capacity to prevent terrorist attacks.

“We believe the police officers acted appropriately and that it is important that airports across the nation be able to take action when there is a reasonable belief that travelers could be threatened,” said Patrick Hogan, MAC spokesman.

“In this case, there were travelers and flight crew members who raised concerns, and we worked with federal authorities who interviewed the imams,” Mr. Hogan said. “We believe the process worked as it should to protect the traveling public.”

Frederick Goetz, the imams’ lawyer, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was amended Dec. 14 and now names six airport police officers as defendants. The suit says the officials engaged in “intentional discrimination” when they removed the imams from the Minneapolis-to-Phoenix flight in November 2006.

In its Dec. 20 response, the commission said: “MAC police officers took reasonable action in good faith upon reports of suspicious behavior.”

US Airways filed its response Dec. 26 in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota and denied more than 200 complaints levied by the imams. US Airways “denies that it engaged in any unlawful discrimination or violated any federal or state law,” the airline stated.

Last year, H.R. 1 (“Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007″) was signed into law. In part, Title XII, paragraph 1206 of the bill reads:

(a) IMMUNITY FOR REPORTS OF SUSPECTED TERRORIST ACTIVITY OR SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR.—

— (1) IN GENERAL.—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.

— (2) FALSE REPORTS.—Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any report that the person knew to be false or was made with reckless disregard for the truth at the time that person made that report.

(b) IMMUNITY FOR RESPONSE.—

— (1) IN GENERAL.—Any authorized official who observes, or receives a report of, covered activity and takes reasonable action in good faith to respond to such activity shall have qualified immunity from civil liability for such action, consistent with applicable law in the relevant jurisdiction. An authorized official as defined by subsection (d)(1)(A) not entitled to assert the defense of qualified immunity shall nevertheless be immune from civil liability under Federal, State, and local law if such authorized official takes reasonable action, in good faith, to respond to the reported activity.

— (2) SAVINGS CLAUSE.—Nothing in this subsection shall affect the ability of any authorized official to assert any defense, privilege, or immunity that would otherwise be available, and this subsection shall not be construed as affecting any such defense, privilege, or immunity.

(c) ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS.—Any person or authorized official found to be immune from civil liability under this section shall be entitled to recover from the plaintiff all reasonable costs and attorney fees.

If this lawsuit goes to trial, it appears the imams will have to convince a jury that the police, airport officials, employees, and the airlines were not acting in good faith based upon the information they received and personally observed. That seems like a pretty steep hill for them to climb. A jury trial also ups the financial risk the imams and their sponsors take in pursuing the matter.

Also see this page for background.

CAIR and ‘Flying Imams’ drop lawsuit against ‘John Doe’

Audrey Hudson, of the Washington Times, reports this morning:

A federal court yesterday accepted a request by a group of Muslim imams to drop all claims in a federal lawsuit against unspecified “John Doe” passengers for reporting the men’s suspicious behavior, which led to their removal from a US Airways flight last year. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota was amended to “hereby dismiss possible defendants ‘John Does’ as set forth in … the first amended complaint as parties from this action,” said the notice of dismissal. The lawsuit still targets US Airways and Minneapolis airport workers.

Gerry Nolting, a lawyer who represents one of the unnamed “John Doe” passengers, said the dismissal demonstrates the imams’ case did not hold water and that the passengers “were doing nothing but their important duty as airline travelers to report suspicious behavior to the appropriate authorities.” “Hopefully, this will encourage all airline travelers to continue to be the eyes and ears of the FAA and report suspicious behavior,” Mr. Nolting said.

The lawsuit had said that “plaintiffs are unaware of the true names and capacities of defendants sued herein as John Does and therefore sue said defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiffs will … amend this complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting the liability of said defendants” after finding out that information. Passengers and the flight crew said the men were disruptive and did not take their assigned seats and formed a pattern similar to the September 11 hijackers. Some of the men asked for seat-belt extensions they did not need, criticized the war in Iraq and President Bush and talked about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

The Becket Fund, a legal advocacy group that pursues religious freedom cases, demanded that the passengers be dropped from the suit and announced it would represent for free any passengers who were identified and formally named.

“Better late than never,” said Kevin J. Hasson, the group’s president. “They should never have sued the John Does in the first place, and they should have dismissed them long before now, but at last they have finally done the right thing.

CAIR to sue ‘John Doe’ to test their “good faith”

The CAIR backed lawsuit against those U.S. Airways Flight 300 passengers who reported the November 20, 2006, suspicious behavior of 6 imams will continue. Their suit was always about intimidating people out of saying something when they see something. Friday, Congress sent HR 1, the ‘Improving America’s Security Act of 2007′ to President Bush for signature. It included this language:

“Any person who, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion [emphasis added mine], 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.”

Yet be warned, John Doe, for CAIR has millions and a promise of a $50 million dollar endowment from a person or entity in Dubai, and they are still gunning for you. CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper discussed this with MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson (my kudos to Mr. Carlson. You will see why I offer them). Your legal fight is not over:

There is one pitfall to CAIR’s exploratory lawsuit against John Doe, this ‘losers pay’ provision within HR 1:

“Any person or authorized official found to be immune from civil liability under this section shall be entitled to recover from the plaintiff all reasonable costs and attorney fees.”

With great and all due respect to Congressman Pete King (R-NY), the language in HR 1 should, in my opinion, have added:

In all cases, it will be presumed that a reportee has acted in good faith and no court shall entertain a civil complaint against them lest a criminal court finds their statements to have been knowingly false or malicious in intent.

That would have shut the American based, terrorist sympathizing CAIR’s legal efforts down, at least until the sharia law they wish to impose here supersedes our Constitution.

Democrats shoot down ‘Joe Doe’ passenger protection legislation

Lie to me again and tell me the Democratic Party is tough on terror.

With their calendars permanently affixed to show everyday as September 10, the Democrats in the Senate voted to deny passengers protection from civil liability who, acting in good faith, report suspicious behaviors.

Zero Visibility

Zero Visibility

Click on the image to read the commentary

Disarmed by the Dems

Editor — This commentary appeared today, in the ‘Be Our Guest’ section of the New York Daily News

Congressional leaders fail to protect terror tipsters from insane lawsuits

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.

John Doe is you. Me. All of us. And he’s in trouble.

Yesterday, members of Congress met in conference to finalize provisions of the 9/11 security bill, which implements the final recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. But as of press time, the Democratic majority was using a technicality to block the so-called John Doe amendment from being included in the bill.

The amendment, which protects citizen whistleblowers who report suspicious activity from being sued, was sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) after six imams who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in November filed a lawsuit against the passengers who reported their behavior to flight crews.

Their lawsuit charges that the imams were victims of an “intentional” and “malicious” . . . “conspiracy to discriminate” and seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the airline and “John Doe” passengers – including an elderly couple who, according to legal papers, “purposely turned around to watch them” in the boarding area and then “made a cellular phone call.”

The John Doe legislation, called the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act, passed in the House in April with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a vote of 304-121 – including 105 Democrats. Now, King wants to include it in the 9/11 security legislation as a stand-alone measure to assure its passage apart from the larger bill. It is up to the majority leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whether they will allow the provision to be added to the bill. Reached by telephone yesterday, a senior Pelosi staffer refused several times to say whether Pelosi supports the John Doe legislation in principle.

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.”

It has been nearly six years since 19 ordinary-looking men boarded four commercial airliners, killed all the pilots and then flew the planes into buildings and the ground.

One of those most haunted by that day is the airline employee who checked in two of the hijackers that morning. He told the 9/11 commission that the pair, traveling on first class, one-way, e-tickets, “didn’t act right.” Though he selected them for secondary screening, he didn’t request a more thorough search because “I was worried about being accused of being ‘racist’ and letting ‘prejudice’ get in the way.”

We disarm ourselves when we succumb to political correctness – which encourages us to second guess our common sense and look the other way. It is an outrage that Pelosi and Reid would allow individuals to be punished when they come forward to protect us all.

Editor — Debra Burlingame is a co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, the sister of Charles Burlingame III who was the pilot of American Airlines flight 77 that terrorists hijacked and then crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.