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Roger Wicker Column for week of 4/9

Roger Wicker Column for week of 4/9

By: Magnolia Tribune - April 6, 2007


The U.S. House of Representatives struck a blow for homeland security as well as common sense with approval of legislation to protect Americans from frivolous lawsuits if they report possible terrorist activity aboard various forms of public transportation.

The measure was prompted by a November 2006 incident on a U.S. Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix when six Islamic leaders were removed from the aircraft as a result of suspicious activity. According to the airport police report, the Muslim men drew the attention of several passengers who were disturbed by their actions. They did not sit in assigned seats, instead choosing to sit at locations throughout the airplane similar to the configuration used by the 9-11 hijackers. The men also made anti-American statements and exhibited other behavior that would lead reasonable persons to conclude was suspicious.


The six men later sued the airline, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airports Commission, and passengers on the flight who reported them to the aircraft crew. This is an absurd turn of events. It flies in the face of our citizenry’s ability to observe the world around them and report unusual activities, which is an essential homeland security protection against terrorism.

The Transportation Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, and transportation agencies across the country have encouraged passengers using railways, buses, and airlines to pay attention to their surroundings and report behavior that is out of the ordinary.


The passengers on this U.S. Airways flight were simply being vigilant and should not be penalized for their actions. They should be commended for stepping forward, not condemned and sued. The fear of litigation could have a chilling and intimidating effect on the willingness of average Americans to speak up. We will be less safe if citizens are fearful of being dragged into court for acting in good faith to protect themselves and others.

Republican leaders offered the legislation during consideration of the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act, and it received strong bipartisan support. The provision would:

? Grant immunity from civil liability to any person who voluntarily reports suspicious activity that could be a threat to transportation security.

? Provide attorney fees for defendants who might be victimized by these types of frivolous lawsuits.

? Be retroactive to the activities that took place on or after the date of the November 2006 incident in Minneapolis.

Alert citizens willing to look out for themselves and their neighbors provide a solid foundation for our homeland security. We should stand up against any activity that would weaken that foundation. This frivolous lawsuit is such an effort. I hope our legislation be received well by the U. S. Senate.

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.