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WLS 890 AM-Congress Must Protect Vigilant Citizens


Location: Washington, DC

At most train stops, bus stations and major hubs of transportation, one can see signs and messages reading "if you see something suspicious, say something."

Unfortunately in today's society these anti-terrorism messages are necessary and even crucial to protecting the homeland. Although it is the Department of Homeland Security's charge to protect the United States from attack here at home, it's the vigilance of ordinary American citizens that serves as our nation's last line of defense.

However, if the leaders of the Democratic Party have their way, average citizens will have more incentive to keep their mouths shut. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quietly trying to remove language from a homeland security bill that would protect citizens who report suspicious activity from legal liability.

Think back to last November when six Muslim imams were removed from a flight in Minnesota after passengers witnessed them engaging in suspicious activity - eerily reminiscent of the attacks of 9/11. In response, the imams sued the airlines, the owner of the airport, and those passengers who reported the suspicious activity. It's vital to protect Americans who act in good faith when reporting suspicious activity.

In March, I supported attaching a provision to the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007, known more commonly as the ‘John Doe' legislation, to protect citizens who report suspicious activity from legal prosecution. It passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support (304-124), and rightfully so.

However, a joint House-Senate committee this week is drafting the final version of a bill to implement the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. If the Democratic leaders kill the ‘John Doe' provisions with procedural roadblocks it may be forever lost.

The need for these protections is ever apparent.

The most recent example of citizens preventing terrorist attacks was the foiled plot at Fort Dix. An ordinary store clerk witnessed a video of men shooting automatic weapons, chanting "Allah Akbar" and alerted authorities. Subsequently, six men from Yugoslavia and the Middle East were charged with plotting to slaughter scores of American soldiers at Fort Dix. Would this ordinary citizen been less likely to speak up if he had the fear of judicial prosecution?

The vigilance of our citizens has proven effective and our country is safer for it. Americans who act in good faith to protect the security of the United States should be considered patriots, not criminals.

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