“House Republicans are pushing legislation to protect airline passengers from lawsuits for reporting suspicious behavior that might be linked to a terrorist attack. Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican, introduced the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007 on Thursday, a week after a lawsuit was filed by a group of Muslim imams who were taken off a US Airways flight in November.” (Dec. 6, Mar. 15, Mar. 22; Audrey Hudson, “Hill bill protects flying public”, Washington Times, Mar. 24). Syndicated columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin has been on top of developments (“The John Doe Manifesto”, National Review Online, Mar. 28; blog posts, Mar. 24, Mar. 27, Mar. 28).
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a response from the imams:
The imams’ Manhattan attorney, Omar Mohammedi, said the suit “is directed at the airlines and the airport, not passengers.”If someone has a legitimate security concern, we’re not going after that person,” he said. “Or if someone saw them praying and reported that out of ignorant fear, we aren’t going to target that.
“But if someone lied and made a false report with the intention to discriminate, such as in saying the imams made anti-American comments and talked about Iraq when in fact nothing like that ever happened, we have the right to challenge that,” Mohammedi said.
(Pamela Miller, “Attorney offers aid to defendants in imam suit”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mar. 22). USA Today has editorially weighed in on the passengers’ side: “This legal tactic seems designed to intimidate passengers willing to do exactly what authorities have requested — say something about suspicious activity.” (“Our view on post-9/11 travel: Clerics’ lawsuit threatens security of all passengers”, Mar. 27; opposing view by Arsalan Iftikhar). See also Marc Sheppard, American Thinker, Mar. 27.
P.S. And now AP is on the case (“Imams removed from flight may sue passengers”, AP/MSNBC, Mar. 30), and Sen. Fred Thompson (“Suing for Silence”, National Review Online, Mar. 29). The imams have now amended their complaint to cast a seemingly less capacious net for John Does: Audrey Hudson, “Imams narrow target of ‘Does'”, Washington Times, Mar. 31.