King Introduces Legislation to Encourage Continued Citizen Involvement in Fighting Terrorism
“See Something, Say Something Act of 2011” Provides Immunity to Individuals Who Report Suspicious Activities
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, along with 11 other Committee Republicans, introduced legislation that would provide legal protections to individuals who report suspicious activity that may reflect a terrorist threat.
The See Something, Say Something Act of 2011 would provide civil immunity in U.S. courts for individuals who, acting in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, report threats to appropriate law enforcement officials.
“I have long advocated for a multi-layered approach to securing our homeland,” said King. “Alert and vigilant citizens who report suspicious activity provide one critical layer. Good citizens who report suspicious activity in good faith, should not have to worry about being sued. In 2007, I pushed for a law protecting vigilant Americans from frivolous lawsuits when they report suspicious activity involving our transportation systems. The See Something, Say Something Act of 2011 extends that protection to those who report suspicious activity anywhere. This legislation would enhance the Department of Homeland Security’s national ‘See Something, Say Something’ awareness campaign.”
Recently, reports from ordinary citizens have helped defeat terrorist plots. Last year in Times Square, a street vendor helped save countless lives by alerting NYPD officers to a vehicle loaded with explosives, a report that resulted in the arrest of Faisal Shahzad Additionally, a tip from an vigilant citizen contributed greatly to the December 2008 conviction of five men for plotting to attack and kill American soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J. As the DHS campaign recognizes, such reporting should be encouraged.
In 2007, in response to frivolous lawsuits filed against passengers who reported suspicious activity on a commercial aircraft, Rep. King, along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), included similar language in The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 that protected citizens who reported threats to the nation’s transportation systems. In 2009, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held hearings on the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Several witnesses at those hearings, including Charles Allen, DHS’s Chief Intelligence Officer, Donald Van Duyn, the FBI’s Chief Intelligence Officer, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and Al Orlob, Marriott International’s Vice President for Corporate Security, endorsed the idea of expanding the 2007 law beyond the transportation sector.
The legislation has received the support of law enforcement and community groups, including: the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Troopers Coalition, and the National Association of Town Watch.
Joining Chairman King in introducing The See Something, Say Something Act of 2011 are Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ), Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), all of whom serve on the Committee on Homeland Security. Also joining is Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA).