I had the interesting experience of following Mitt Romney around New Hampshire and discovering how conservative, almost populist, he’s become in his rhetoric. My favorite appearance is when he jammed himself into Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop by the water in Portsmouth, NH, took his jacket off, and started revving up the crowd. “One of the things that really troubled me was Nancy Pelosi going over to a state that sponsors terrorism,” he said to nods and calls of agreement from the audience. Earlier, Romney had convened a little homeland security meeting and spoke of the need for local and state officials to gather intelligence and feed it to the federal government.
That’s when I asked Romney about the so-called John Doe case, where airline passengers spotted a group of men, gathering, spouting anti-American slogans, getting up and sitting down, and generally freaking people out, and reported them to authorities. Now the men, all Muslims, and found to be uninvolved with plotting a terror attack, are suing the John Does who came forward to give the airlines a heads-up that something weird might be afoot. Here’s what Romney had to say about it: “That’s obviously a misguided effort,” Mr. Romney said of the lawsuit in response to a question from the Sun. “We’re going to have to keep open channels of information that identify possible sources of terror.” He likened the so-called “John Does” who provide information in a terrorism case to good Samaritans who report child abuse to authorities and said such suits could “chill” the public’s ability to fight terror. “We’re not going to sue those people or allow them to be sued…The number one civil liberty the government must protect is the liberty to be kept alive.”
You can read my full report here in the NY Sun.