9/11 bill news items

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070724/ap_on_go_co/congress_homeland_security_2

9/11 bill hinges on tipster provision

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer

Tue Jul 24, 11:38 AM ET

Major legislation to implement more of the 9/11 Commission's anti-terrorism recommendations now hinges on a relatively minor provision: whether citizens who report suspicious activity should be immune to lawsuits.

Passage of the bill would be a sizable victory for Democrats who laid out an ambitious legislative agenda when they took control of Congress.

The bill currently in House-Senate negotiations would bring the United States closer to scanning all cargo-containing ships before they leave foreign ports — a measure aimed at preventing a nuclear device from reaching U.S. shores.

But it is a smaller issue that has proven to be the biggest headache as lawmakers hammer out the final version.

Republicans are demanding that language be added to provide immunity to citizens who report suspicious activity. They referred to an incident last fall where six Muslim scholars were removed from a flight in Minneapolis after other passengers said they were acting suspiciously. The imams have since filed a lawsuit, saying their civil rights were violated.

Democrats, including House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., say the wording of the measure is too broad and would protect even those who knowingly and maliciously call in a false "tip."

"Every issue has been resolved except the immunity for good people who report suspicious activity," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the author of the measure, who accused Democrats of "caving" to lawsuit-loving liberals.

Dena Graziano, a spokeswoman for Thompson, said her boss "supports the issue of civil immunity, but he does not support the language as written in the 9/11 bill."

Both sides agree that negotiators have whittled away all the other areas of disagreement in the bill, meaning the "flying imams" issue is the last hurdle.


The bills are H.R. 1 and S. 4

On the Net:

Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/


Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070725/ap_on_go_co/homeland_security_highlights_1

9/11 bill highlights

By the Associated Press

Wed Jul 25, 2:39 PM ET

Key points in the House-Senate compromise bill to carry out the national security recommendations of the 9/11 Commission:

_Changes the formula for the state homeland security grant program so that more funds go to areas designated as high-risk.

_Creates a new Homeland Security program to fund and promote communications interoperability among local, state and federal officials.

_Authorizes more than $4 billion for four years for rail, transit and bus security.

_Requires Homeland Security to screen all cargo on passenger aircraft within three years.

_Requires the screening of all container ships in foreign ports within five years, but gives the Homeland Security secretary authority to delay implementation.

_Establishes a new electronic travel authorization system to improve security for visitors from countries participating in the visa waiver program.

_Strengthens a board that oversees privacy and civil liberties issues.

_Establishes a voluntary certification program to assess whether private sector entities comply with voluntary preparedness standards.

_Requires the president and Congress to publicly disclose total spending requested and approved for the intelligence community.

_Provides civil immunity to those who, in good faith, report suspicious activities that threaten the safety and security of passengers on a transportation system or that could be an act of terrorism.