- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rep. Thompson explains

Since September 11 the message has been loud and clear: report suspicious activity. I certainly encourage everyone to heed this advice. However, I do not support the attempt by my colleagues to shield from liability any and everybody who decides to make a claim against someone alleging terrorist activity. Whether the accused is arrested is not the standard and the litmus test. What the King proposal does not take into consideration is whether the information received was knowingly false.

The law allows causes of actions for defamation of character, malice, slander, perjury and the like because in the absence of these remedies, there is not a check on an individual’s ability to make a false claim. I will not support removing this “check” from the equation. The blanket immunity provided by this legislation does just that. It is too broad and can lead to widespread reports of “suspicious activity,” sending law-enforcement officials on wild goose chases with the person against whom the allegation was made having no recourse.

I wholeheartedly believe that people who are honestly afraid or who truly believe that there is a threat of terrorist activity will continue to be the vigilant, watchful eyes and ears that we need them to be. We want to keep America safe and we need their help. However we cannot rule out the existence of individuals who are willing to purposely destroy someone’s reputation, their livelihood, and potentially their freedom, for false purposes.

If you don’t believe this can happen, just ask the LAPD counterterrorism unit. According to a recently released article, after receiving a seemingly credible tip regarding a terrorist attack on an L.A. shopping mall, the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force went into crisis mode, as they should have. They held a press conference, asked citizens to pay extra attention to their surroundings, incurred expenses by setting up a task force, required agents to work around the clock on the matter and stepped up patrols around the mall.

After numerous hours and dollars were expended, it was determined that the tip came from a disgruntled ex-boyfriend that had made the whole thing up to get back at his ex-girlfriend. The “terrorists” who were planning to attack the mall, were actually friends of his ex-girlfriend. Had those men been arrested, under the proposed measure, they would not be able to sue the “tipster” for making a false claim. Moreover, the dollars spent on this operation could have been used following up on real intelligence and credible information that carries the weight of a civil penalty if it is shown that the person who provided the information knew it was false.

Unfortunately, I don’t have to look as far as Los Angeles for an example of being on the receiving end of false information. During the sixties, I worked with civil rights organizations to improve racial conditions in Mississippi. As a result of my actions I was spied on by my government, a file was created on me by the State of Mississippi, and I was threatened with bodily harm. Since that time, I have been firmly committed to standing up for those that, like me, find themselves on the receiving end of false allegations that were made based on the person’s race or their religious beliefs.

At first glance the King legislation looked fine, but upon closer inspection, it didn’t pass the smell test. 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.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON

Chairman

House Homeland Security Committee

Washington

More than semantics

In his Sunday Commentary column, “The gun culture,” Alex Gerber wrote, “In the one-sentence Second Amendment, ‘A well regulated militia, being essential to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms should not be infringed,’ the key word is security, but not the kind of security that is now relevant to our nation.”

Actually, the Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (emphasis added). I am extremely curious about why Mr. Gerber deleted the phrase “of the people” without any indication that he was doing so. Also, the term “should” denotes an attitude that it would be desirable that the government not infringe upon this right. “Shall,” on the other hand, expressly prohibits the government from infringing on that right.

THOMAS M. CRAWFORD

Laurel, Md.

Pakistan and nukes

[Editor’s note: Press Counselor Shaheedi quotes Arnaud de Borchgrave as writing that Dr. A.Q. Khan made 13 trips to North Korea in 2004. A more careful reading would show that he wrote A.Q. Khan “made 13 trips to North Korea through 2004.”

He also accuses Mr. de Borchgrave of cherry-picking information “here and there.” The information about Dr. Khan, as he wrote, came from a carefully researched book titled “Rapacites,” which is French for “greed,” written by Jean-Louis Gergorin, one of France’s leading strategic thinkers. He, in turn, had investigated the Luxembourg clearinghouse “Clearstream,” which cleared much of Dr. Khan’s ill-gotten gains from supplying nuclear know-how to America’s enemies.

Mr. de Borchgrave’s mother was born in Rawalpindi and many of his Pakistani sources in the military, in intelligence, in politics and academia are friends of long standing. That is how he happens to know that a disillusioned Pakistani VIP was in Washington recently to brief the intelligence community about the Inter-Services Intelligence agency’s current affiliations with a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.]

This refers to Arnaud de Borchgrave’s “A $1.5 trillion mistake” (Commentary, May 6): Pakistan acquired missile technology from North Korea by making payments in hard cash and there was absolutely no trading of a Pakistani nuke for Korean missiles. The writer has picked up the references from here and there to suit his pre-conceived layout of the article. He has mentioned that Dr. A. Q. Khan made 13 trips to North Korea in 2004 where he traded the deal between the two countries. He has picked up this figure from the article of Gaurav Kampani, a Canadian national of Indian origin who used this figure without substantiating his claim. Dr. Khan went to North Korea only as apart of the Pakistani delegation assigned to negotiate the acquisition of missile technology.

The assertion that Dr. Khan made $100 million is also a wild guess, and if it is true, the money must be lying in banks somewhere in the free world. We have no means to find out the authenticity of the amount. Before implicating the head of the state it is the duty of the writer to check his information and just not rely on hearsay. It is not just in bad taste; it also raises question of intellectual integrity.

Pakistan rejects the mindset that is bent upon maligning the country. It is a well-known fact that illegal networks of nuclear technology have been operating in more than 30 countries and predate Dr. Khan. This fact has been acknowledged by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I can say with full responsibility that Pakistan has successfully dismantled the A. Q. Khan network.

I wish the writer has gone through the recently released report of International Institute of Strategic Studies, which has given a balanced view in detail on the issue. His attention may also be drawn to the arrests of Indian nationals about a few weeks ago on charges of exporting missile technology from the United States to India.

M. AKRAM SHAHEEDI

Press minister

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide