The Spectacle Blog

Thompson Reports

By on 6.5.07 | 12:07AM

Former Senator Fred Thompson has already had several careers, but his blogging and writing over the past few months would indicate that besides the law, politics and acting, he would’ve made a pretty decent opinion writer. 

Today, he manages to turn the successes in preventing terrorist attacks on its head to again slap down the federal government, this time for failing to protect whistleblowers from frivolous lawsuits, thereby putting our country at greater risk:  

 We’ve all heard by now about the plot by Muslim extremists to use jet fuel tanks and pipelines in a terror attack on JFKAirport and Queens, NY. One reason the incident is interesting is that the suspects have mostly Caribbean origins. The roots of the group arrested for plotting an attack on FortDix in April were European. This is obviously an international movement.

We’re still learning about the details of the

JFKAirport plot, but it appears that an informant was crucial to preventing the scheme. Time and again, we’re seeing how important it is that we’re vigilant.

You remember the young electronics store clerk whose tip led the FBI to the six men plotting to murder American soldiers at FortDix. While copying a video tape onto DVD, he saw images of men firing guns and shouting Islamic slogans.

For a while after the story broke, he kept his head down. Now Brian Morgenstern has come forward -- and his story is eye-popping. For a full day after seeing the evidence, he debated with himself about whether he should report what he knew. He was concerned about violating the privacy of his customers and that telling the police might be looked upon as "racist."

I can understand his regard for customer privacy. Worrying that he’d be viewed as a racist, though, is troubling -- because there are people trying to use that charge to keep Americans from reporting potentially deadly behavior. This was the case with the so-called "flying imams." They provoked real concern among airline passengers – and some think purposely. Then they filed suit against the airline and the passengers who reported them -- claiming they were racists.

Most Americans take the charge of racism very seriously -- as they should. It becomes a problem, though, if false accusations are used to keep us from reporting suspicious activities. It looked for a while that legislation to protect sincere whistleblowers from lawsuits would never make it to a vote. The chair of the House Homeland Security Committee held up the legislation, saying it would promote racial and religious profiling. Fortunately, he’s changed his mind. I'm happy about that and congratulate him. I'll be happier, though, when the bill is enacted.

I was also glad to hear that Morgenstern was rewarded by his employer, CircuitCity, for his part in preventing the attack on FortDix. And I was impressed that he told those who called him a "hero" that the real heroes are our soldiers in the field. A second man, also credited with the tip, has chosen to remain anonymous. Maybe when he's protected from expensive and frivolous lawsuits, we'll hear his story too.

This brings us to another Thompson publication that has received far less coverage than perhaps it should have. The Congressional investigation and report, “Government on the Brink,” was released by Senator Fred Thompson and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs in June 2001.

The report, published before the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, while not predicting such failures in government coordination or basic services, certainly made the case that our government was due for a fall. Thompson has spoken of the report often in his public remarks of late. We're linking to both volumes here and here.

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