Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saving "John Doe"

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, signed on as a co-sponsor this afternoon to the Pearce/Collins bill to protect "John Doe" passengers from being sued if they report suspicious activity aboard aircraft.

In a letter to the editor of The Washington Times today, Mr. Thompson said he could not support an earlier version of the legislation sponsored by Rep. Peter King, New York Republican and ranking member of the committee, that will be the subject of a conference committee on rail and safety transportation.

"At first glance the King legislation looked fine, but upon closer inspection, it didn't pass the smell test," Mr. Thompson said.

"I believe that the underlying premise of the bill is a good idea and one that has been pounded into the mind of every American since September 11 -- help law enforcement help you -- however; unlike the Pearce/Collins approach, which I support, the measure introduced by Rep. King, does not take into consideration valid causes of action for providing false or misleading information. I encourage my colleagues to work toward a solution more akin to the Pearce/Collins bills, which do not run roughshod over legal remedies that are and should be in place."

The King bill was added to the transporation safety bill through a procedural vote that Democrats today are threatening to eliminate.

House Republican Leader John Boehner is holding a press conference at 4:45 to address that rule change.

-- Audrey Hudson, national reporter, The Washington Times

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