Saturday, December 22, 2007

Airport Security "Horror Stories"

This was on Left Coaster today, "Welcome to George W. Bush's America": "An Icelandic woman's memorable visit. (h/t The Reaction ["Invasion of the Viking Women"], via Sott)". This poor woman, on a vacation to New York City, was treated like a terrorist for having overstayed (by three weeks) a tourist visa back in 1995, at which time the authorities didn't have a problem with it. After being chained, interrogated, deprived of food and sleep, medically examined, and thrown in jail over a 24-hour period, they deported her back to Iceland. (I guess she won't be coming back.)

What happened to literary biographer Peter Kurth while on a trip to London was even worse, however. He wrote this for Salon in May. The English authorities threw him in prison for a month for allegedly causing a scene on an airplane.

Most surprising to me was the fact that the police had information about my family -- specifically, that my father is a convert to Islam, married to a Moroccan woman; that I have two Moroccan half-sisters; that I have spent long periods in the Middle East. I was appalled to find out that such details are available "at the click of a mouse" to any squirt with a badge, and I must have indicated as much to the squirts in question, because their notes about my "attitude and behavior" boiled down to one word: "obnoxious."

(I might be "obnoxious" too if somebody did that to me.) (Peter Kurth's latest Salon article here.)

This isn't a horror story but a couple of years ago B., who looks like an Egyptian but is a Puerto Rican from New York City, was detained by the American security authorities in the Toronto airport on our way back to the States from Quebec City. They kept him so long I was afraid we'd miss our flight back to Miami but we didn't. (The DHS people there reeked of power.) (I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't be saying that, to spare myself some future grief.)

No comments: