Thursday, August 09, 2007

Protecting the Rights of the Accused

President Bush spoke recently about a very serious matter:

When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

When I first heard that there are people in our country who are alleged to have assisted our country following the 9/11 attacks, I was deeply, deeply shocked. These are very serious allegations, and it is hard for me to believe that there is any truth to them.

I am so glad that I live in a country where the law presumes that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion offers no such protection. That is why I look forward to the day when the victims of these smears can face their accusers in court and prove to the entire world that the charges leveled against them are nothing but vicious lies. On that day, they can hold their heads high and proclaim, "The allegations against us are false! We did not assist our nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001!"

Sadly, though, our justice system is not perfect, and sometimes the innocent are wrongly judged to be guilty. That is why Congress must act to offer meaningful liability protection to them.

So I praise the president for his call to action, but I wish he had been even more bold. The truth of the matter is that the world is full of people who make false accusations for their own nefarious ends. Therefore I call upon Congress to extend liability protection not only to those who have been accused of helping America, but also to those who are alleged to have volunteered in soup kitchens, those who are alleged to have helped old women cross the street, and those who are alleged to have given milk to stray kittens. Until the day when libel and slander are no longer commonplace, we must be vigilant in protecting the rights of the accused.

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