The House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation to better protect citizens who report suspicious activity indicating possible terror activity. The See Something, Say Something Act (H.R. 963) expands protections against lawsuits for individuals who report suspicious terrorist-related activity and for law enforcement officers who act on these tips in good faith. The Committee passed the bill by a voice vote.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, who sponsored H.R. 963, praised the Committee's vote.
Chairman Smith: "Time and again the brave actions of alert citizens have helped to thwart terror plots and save lives. It is not enough for intelligence officials and investigators to combat the terror threat alone. We need the help of alert citizens who see something suspicious and say something to authorities.
"Unfortunately, at least part of our citizens' reluctance to share their suspicions may be based on fear of being sued. Citizens who share information to stop a possible terrorist attack should be praised, not sued. This bill provides legal safeguards for vigilant citizens who provide tips regarding possible terror activity and the law enforcement officers who follow up on those leads. American should not have to pay one cent of legal defense costs for helping to prevent a terrorist attack."
Earlier this year in Texas, a tip from an alert citizen led to the arrest of a Saudi-national who was plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction against innocent civilians. According to the affidavit, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari's list of targets included former U.S. military service members, dams, nuclear power plants and even the home of former President George W. Bush. The plot was uncovered when a chemical supplier notified the FBI about Aldawsari's attempt to purchase a toxic chemical called phenol. In 2010, a plot to bomb Times Square was thwarted when two individuals notified the NYPD after seeing smoke coming from a parked car.