Thursday, February 11, 2010

Freedom To Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

So what is normal behavior in an American Airport these days? I spend too much time in American Airports and if you asked me, I would have to say that wandering around in an XXX Large Tee Shirt, baggy shorts from one junk food eatery to another trying to gain another 5 pounds between flights would look pretty normal to me.

I have become very good at just not being there, if you know what I mean. They wanna look at my bags, no problem. Some fat woman TSA Cop wants to look in my pants? No Problem. They wanna use some kind of sensor to detect explosives? No Problem. What ever they want, I smile...
No Problem...because frankly, I have learned to just not be there...
Because, these people are just a little crazy and people who are a little crazy with too much power can be very dangerous.

Take the case of Nicholas George, a student on his way to Pomona College in Southern California to start his senior year. Nicholas was boarding a plane in Philadelphia on August 29, 2009 when the TSA officials pulled him out of line for extra screening.
They told him to empty his pockets, and in his pockets were a set of English/Arabic language flashcards which he used as a Middle-Eastern Studies Major. He has been studying Arabic for the last 3 years.

Thus a nightmare for Nicholas. He was questioned in hostile manner about 9/11 and asked if he knew what language Osama Bin Laden spoke. He reacted with sarcasm and was put in isolation until a Philly police officr showed up who handcuffed him and took him into custody with out reading him his rights or informing him if he was under arrest.

He was kept in a cell for hours with handcuffs on until FBI agents arrived who never informed him of his legal status. Instead when he asked why he was being held, they called him a fucking idiot and began to question him about his political beliefs, travel history, religion and education. After a few hours of realizing they were getting nowhere, he was released. His plane had long since departed.

Mr. George has just filed suit against the TSA, The Philadelphia Police Force and the FBI for the violation of his First and Fourth Amendment Constitutional Rights with the assistance of the ACLU. The entire line of the TSA is that he was in possession of the Arabic/English language cards and that was "very suspicious".

One of the big admitted logistical problems in the so called fight against terror is that there aren't enough Arabic speaking Americans to do translation work. Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. I'd say this was a small victory for the terrorists, but there are small victories like this every day. Little victories have a way of adding up.  We give up our freedom and rights to live a normal life bit by bit every day out of fear and IGNORANCE!


SR said...

Very Scary! The Patriot Act works in mysterious ways. This Nazi era quote from Martin Neimoller comes to mind:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello SR,
What a great comparison and quote.