Khaab Khayaal Saraab
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
The Good News is...
... I have better standing with the HSA ("Homeland Security
Administration" said the patches on folks upper arms) than a French TV
crew; but that's not saying much:
The lady behind the counter at RDU Tuesday morning disappeared with my
[and my wife's] photo IDs for about half an hour [a chain of events that
lead to a "late check in" and our baggage and car seat getting home a
day late]. She went behind a door that I noticed much coming and going
to and from by people with the TSA and HSA logos on their shirts.
And then I see today's editorial from the Cincy Post:
Welcome. You're under arrest
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security's crack gumshoes
at Los Angeles' airport jailed six French TV journalists for more than a
day; interrogated, body-searched and fingerprinted them; then forcibly
repatriated them to Paris. The six had planned to cover the annual video
game exposition in Los Angeles, a trade show that received worldwide
This kind of bureaucratic overkill could redound against American
reporters overseas, tarnishes our ideal of a free press and makes us
look like idiots. Now we have eroded our moral ground to object to this
sort of Third World treatment when it is inflicted on our own reporters
There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence of people arbitrarily
detained at airports or bumped off flights because of "watch lists."
Getting a name removed apparently means going through a Kafkaesque
France is one of 27 countries whose nationals need no visas to enter the
United States for 90 days for business or pleasure. It is a courtesy
other countries extend to our own citizens, although who knows how much
longer if this sort of nonsense keeps up.
Certainly, a trade show sounds like a legitimate mix of business and
pleasure. But apparently there is an obscure and rarely invoked
requirement for an "I-visa," which attests the holder is "legitimately
engaged in journalism." The U.S. government should not be in the
business of deciding who and who isn't a journalist, in effect
licensing, and certainly now deciding what is "legitimate" journalism.
This was a common technique for the old Iron Curtain countries to try to
control the press. As long as they have a passport and obey the laws,
let visitors write what they want.
Sept. 11, 2001 did a lot of damage to our country, but at some stage we
have to start undoing the damage we're doing to ourselves.