On the Amtrak train to New York a few minutes ago, the conductor announced, “If you see anything suspicious, please report it to the authorities immediately.” If Islamist-front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its friends in Congress have their way, however, this sensible, prudential announcement will have to be amended: “Be advised: If you do make such a report, you may be sued.”
Could it really come to this? It could, if the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives gets away with an effort to deep-six legislation approved last month with the support of 109 of their caucus’ members.
According to a Republican memo circulated before the vote, that legislation is designed to ensure that “any person that voluntarily reports suspicious activity -- anything that could be a threat to transportation security” will be granted immunity from civil liability for the disclosure.” It “authorizes courts to award attorneys' fees to defendants with immunity” and would apply retroactively to activities that took place on or after November 20, 2006.
That date is significant, of course, since it was the day when six Arizona-based Muslim clerics were removed in Minneapolis from an aircraft operated by US Air. The deplaning occurred after fellow passengers did what my conductor urged those on his train to do: They reported suspicious behavior.
The six Islamist clerics – now universally known as the Flying Imams – reportedly engaged in behavior that seemed designed to trigger alarms. Such behavior is said to have included: praying ostentatiously before boarding the plane, changing seats to sit in pairs in unassigned seats (by some accounts in a pattern reminiscent of some terrorists’ modus operandi), making loud statements in Arabic that appear to have included derogatory comments about America and requesting unneeded seat-belt-extenders – which can, in a pinch, be used as weapons.
Following understandable expressions of concern by as-yet-unidentified fellow passengers, the crew consulted with airline and local and federal police. The decision was taken to remove the imams. In a lawsuit filed in March by CAIR on behalf of the imams, these “well-respected, religious leaders…felt degraded, humiliated and dejected as they were led before airport patrons and passengers who looked at them as if they were criminals.” In addition to suing US Air, CAIR is going after unspecified “John Does” – namely, yet-to-be-served passengers, flight attendants and airport personnel the Islamist organization contends acted “with an intent to discriminate.”
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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