April 10, 2012
By Glenn Greenwald
“If you make controversial films, the government now detainees you any time you travel. Freedom of speech?” –KTRN
One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received far too little attention. With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.
March 28, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“Studying Islamic culture now makes you a terrorist.” –KTRN
Pascal Abidor, a dual French-American citizen, regularly crosses the Canadian-American border when traveling to visit his parents in Brooklyn, New York, from his school, McGill University.
While you read the troubling experiences of Abidor, keep in mind that while this may be disturbing, our government actually says that they can assassinate any American without any formal charge or trial, and they never have to explain or justify the supposed legal basis for this in court. When they are challenged, they simply say that the program is so secret that they cannot even confirm or deny its existence.
Abidor’s case is indeed objectionable and should not be accepted by any means, however we must remember that this is just a microcosmic example of how truly sick and demented our government has become.
On May 1, 2010, around 11 AM, the Amtrak train regularly taken by Abidor made a routine stop at the United States border.
A team of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who are part of the behemoth that is the Department of Homeland Security, boarded the train and began to sweep through each car.
The CBP officers proceeded to question passengers and since Abidor had made the journey many times in the past, he was not at all concerned with an officer approached him.
According to The McGill Daily, Abidor was approached by an Officer Tulip who asked him, “Where do you live, and why?”
He responded that he lived in Canada, because he was pursuing a PhD in Islamic Studies at McGill.
Officer Tulip then asked him where he had traveled to in 2009, to which he responded, Jordan and Lebanon.
Abidor then presented his French passport which bore the stamps of the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” and Lebanon.
June 27th, 2011
By: Lauren Sage Reinlie
A woman has filed a complaint with federal authorities over how her elderly mother was treated at Northwest Florida Regional Airport last weekend.
Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.
Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search.
“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber said Friday. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”
Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration in Miami, said she could not comment on specific cases to protect the privacy of those involved.
“The TSA works with passengers to resolve any security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner,” she said.
Weber’s mother entered the airport’s security checkpoint in a wheelchair because she was not stable enough to walk through, Weber said.
Wheelchairs trigger certain protocols, including pat-downs and possible swabbing for explosives, Koshetz said.
“During any part of the process, if there is an alarm, then we have to resolve that alarm,” she said.
Weber said she did not know whether her mother had triggered an alarm during the 45 minutes they were detained.
She said her mother was first pulled aside into a glass-partitioned area and patted down. Then she was taken to another room to protect her privacy during a more extensive search, Weber said.
Weber said she sat outside the room during the search.
She said security personnel then came out and told her they would need for her mother to remove her Depends diaper because it was soiled and was impeding their search.
Weber wheeled her mother into a bathroom, removed her diaper and returned. Her mother did not have another clean diaper with her, Weber said.
Weber said she wished there were less invasive search methods for an elderly person who is unable to walk through security gates.
“I don’t understand why they have to put them through that kind of procedure,” she said.
Koshetz said the procedures are the same for everyone to ensure national security.
“TSA cannot exempt any group from screening because we know from intelligence that there are terrorists out there that would then exploit that vulnerability,” she said.
Weber filed a complaint through Northwest Florida Regional’s website. She said she received a response from a Homeland Security representative at the airport on Tuesday and spoke to that person on the phone Wednesday.
The representative told her that personnel had followed procedures during the search, Weber said.
“Then I thought, if you’re just following rules and regulations, then the rules and regulations need to be changed,” she said.
Weber said she plans to file additional complaints next week.
“I’m not one to make waves, but dadgummit, this is wrong. People need to know. Next time it could be you.”
October 20th, 2010
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the new body scanners at airports, which create a “virtually naked” image of you — bringing up all sorts of privacy concerns, especially as reports are coming out about how the machines can record images. Many people, concerned about how these machines operate, have asked not to use them, and there are usually other options. Boing Boing points us to the story of a working, uniformed pilot (working for ExpressJet) who refused to go through the backscatter scanner. After being directed to a normal metal detector, and declared an “opt-out,” he was told he needed to be patted down by security. He refused, noting that it was intrusive and that he had made it through the normal metal detector without a problem (the same security review he’d been given for many years as a pilot — even in that same airport).
At that point, the TSA got upset, and a bunch of other folks got involved, including the airport police. He was detained, asked all sorts of questions (some he refused to answer), and not allowed to leave when he asked. At one point he was told he was free to leave, but then was stopped again and told he was not allowed to go until he spoke to one more person. The pilot, Michael Roberts, noted during his explanation of what happened that he’s actually taught the TSA-mandated security training program at ExpressJet. The whole story is yet another example of security theater in action — people just doing things because it’s on the checklist, not because it makes anyone more secure.
“What do you mean I ‘should know better’? Are you scolding me? Have I done something wrong?”
“I’m not saying you’ve done something wrong. But you have to go through security screening if you want to enter the facility.”
“Understood. I’ve been going through security screening right here in this line for five years and never blown up an airplane, broken any laws, made any threats, or had a government agent call my boss in Houston. And you guys have never tried to touch me or see me naked that whole time. But, if that’s what it’s come to now, I don’t want to enter the facility that badly.”
December 30, 2009
By Sheena Harrison
A person was detained by customs at Detroit Metro Airport on Friday following Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s alleged attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, according to a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It is unknown why the person was detained or whether the person will face any charges, spokesman Ron Smith told MLive.com.
Bill Carter, a spokesman with the FBI in Washington, D.C., said in an interview Tuesday that Abdulmutallab was the only person arrested or charged in relation to Friday’s foiled attack.
The news about a person being taken into custody comes after two passengers aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 said they saw a second man being taken away in handcuffs on Christmas Day while they and others were waiting to be interviewed by FBI agents at the airport. Smith was unable to say whether that man was the person detained by customs officials.
Kurt Haskell, a Taylor, Mich., attorney who says he was seated a few rows behind suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told MLive.com on Saturday that he saw a second man taken into custody after search dogs appeared to find something in his carry-on bag.
Daniel Huisinga of Fairview, Tenn., who was returning from an internship in Kenya for the holidays, says he also saw a man being taken away in handcuffs at the airport after a dog search. A third person, Roey Rosenblith, told The Huffington Post on Sunday that he saw a man in a suit being placed into handcuffs and escorted out, as well.
Huisinga talked about seeing a man taken away at the airport during an interview Monday on MSNBC. He mentions it at about the 1:25 mark of the video below. The reporter appears to confuse Huisinga’s account with a man who was detained on a separate flight Sunday and deemed not to be a threat.
In a phone interview Tuesday morning, Huisinga told MLive.com that search dogs were brought into Detroit Metro about an hour after the Flight 253 passengers entered the airport. While the dogs sniffed multiple bags, Huisinga said one dog sat down in front of a bag carried by a middle-aged man who was wearing a nice suit.
Haskell said he also saw a man being escorted out of the airport by agents after dogs searched the area where passengers were waiting to be questioned. In a subsequent interview with Fox News, Haskell clarified the man may not have been arrested, but he reiterated the person — who he described as being about 30 years old — was taken away in handcuffs.
Huisinga said the man with the suspicious bag was questioned by agents, who looked through his luggage. The agents left, then approached the man a second time before placing him in handcuffs and leading him away, said Huisinga, who estimates he was about 20 feet away from the scene.