US Border Authorities Detain German Political Leader and Undermine American Brand

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customs and border protection.jpgI will be arriving in Berlin on Monday, the 11th of May — and I am appealing to German border authorities to detain me for an hour or so — to make amends for the treatment that a German political leader (and probably many other unnamed victims of passport screening) received at Dulles Airport.
I think that any American should feel embarrassed by the treatment important guests of the United States received this past week at the hands of US Customs and Border Protection officials at Dulles International Airport.
And frankly, when important political leaders from nations allied with the United States are treated poorly when entering the country, one knows that there must be a much longer line of others who can’t garner headlines about their cases that are detained in similar or worse ways.
Former German State Minister for Police Cem Oezdemir, who was the first ever Turkish-German Member of the German Bundestag and then became a Member of the European Parliament and is today the Co-Chair of the German Green Party, was detained by officials at Dulles Airport earlier this week and given no reason.
I met Oezdemir and his wife, radio personality Pia Castro, shortly after their detainment and heard that what frustrated him most about the incident was the unwillingness of the officials to tell him anything about what was going on. A border control official just told him in a loud, aggressively confrontational voice to sit, to be quiet and wait to be called. The problem was that the officials didn’t have his passport or name.
200px-WikiCemOezdemir.JPGOezdemir, who had an official of the German Embassy in Washington, DC there to help expedite him through customs, had to go up to the intimidating official and say to him that there was no way Oezdemir would be called from a roster as no one had taken his name or passport yet. So, Oezdemir handed it to them.
The process was, according to Oezdemir and his wife who both frequently visit the US, dehumanizing, excessively rude, and characterized by total lack of information being provided to those who are detained.
Being detained without instruction or comments from the authorities creates fear, tension and uncertainty for those stopped in this way — and one can only imagine how people who barely speak English react to such treatment. Oezdemir and his wife are fully fluent in English and still the border authorities made little effort to communicate — and were rude at the end of the process when whatever concerns about him were obviously cleared.
This kind of treatment of people — anyone, important politically or not — undermines the American brand.
According to some reports, it is believed that Oezdemir was stopped by the official because his name “did not sound German.”
If that kind of profiling is going on, then the US Customs and Border Protection operation should be investigated and challenged by the US Congress, the media and the American public. It is simply outrageous that individuals would be stopped because of their name or what they ate on a plane.
These stories percolate back and undermine confidence abroad in the U.S. itself. The treatment of Oezdemir and his wife — who know this country well and know its strengths and warts — has already been broadcast all over the German and the Turkish media.
I recognize that some people on occasion will be detained and will feel like they are being manhandled by a process they don’t understand at America’s borders — but the rudeness of the treatment, the lack of human tact, the lack of information provided to those detained is out of line and needs to be remedied.
I know that the US Customs and Border Protection public affairs office will read this note. Apologizing to Oezdemir and his wife is not a remedy.
What is a remedy is a statement that the Department of Homeland Security must unfortunately detain — for a variety of reasons — people who enter the US about whom red flags are raised. However, you should state that US Customs and Border Protection directors will review policies regarding communication with detainees and the “posture” overall of officers through the process. Those who are cleared should be treated as “innocents” and respected — and told that America regrets this process but that any officers involved hope to convey as much respect, reasonableness, and humanity as possible in processing through any concerns about specific visitors.
And then — get your people at Dulles more cultural training.
I wonder if our former US Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad, the highest ranking Muslim in the Bush administration, ever gets the Oezdemir treatment at our borders now that he doesn’t have his official passport.
Fix this problem — seriously.
You are harming the nation, and there is no reason at all that can explain the poor behavior of officials when people are detained. I’ve seen it personally — and heard too many stories like this one for there not to be a broader review.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

45 comments on “US Border Authorities Detain German Political Leader and Undermine American Brand

  1. Bambang Tri Hasta says:

    Fitriyanto Brotowasana, Indonesia Customs Officer
    http://www.beacukai.go.id

    Reply

  2. arthurdecco says:

    The point I was trying to make in my earlier post was that the American border guards who reflexively harassed me had no reason to give me, a person with a huge investment in the status quo, a hard time at the Canada/US border based on the security parameters of the day. My complaints up-thread had nothing to do with an imaginary sense of my own entitlement or even snobbery(!) as some posters would have you believe. My concern was and continues to be with Profiling, which unarguably happens.
    Profiling.
    In 2000, I was exactly the opposite of the American terrorist profile. What threat did I, or anyone like me, represent to the United States of America? I was a Canadian businessman, (albeit from the technical side of things), heavily invested in the system.
    The American Border Guards screwed with me because they could.
    Period.
    Almost every American Border Guard I’ve been forced to suck up to for the past twenty years has been either a petty tyrant or a closet fascist. Or both.
    & that was the ONLY point I was trying to make.

    Reply

  3. Susan says:

    Hey, this is nothing. I have heard of dignitaries from Muslim countries being strip-searched.
    And you know who else is exceedingly rude on the border? Israel. There is a video called “If Americans Knew” where American-Palestinian women talk about the indignities visited on them… one was in a wheel chair, was stripped searched, was not allowed to get personal hygiene supplies after her clothes were returned to her (minus the hygiene supplies) and she was having her period. That was quite a mess.

    Reply

  4. anIRprof says:

    This sort of behavior can have costs.
    Even before 9/11, during the late 1990s Customs at the Portland, OR airport were known for being exceptionally hostile and strict, detaining or refusing entry to a significantly higher share of arriving passengers than Seattle, LA, or SFO. The situation was so bad that the Japanese government put out a travel advisory warning citizens to avoid flying directly into Portland. It was so bad that both the OR/WA governors and the two states’ senators complained to President Clinton about it. It’s thought that the situation hurt Delta’s traffic, a contributing factor to them ending PDX’s Asian service after the ’98 crisis, and hurt some potential business deals that would have helped the Portland area.

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  5. Zach says:

    I too have experienced similar treatment at Dulles. Only, I’m an American. They look at EVERYONE as enemies.
    I have to wonder how many less-than-desirable individuals they’ve kept at bay with their tactless behavior.
    Are they mean and rude because they are keeping “America attack-free since 9/11” or is it because they hate their jobs and dump on anyone (and everyone) who happens to say “good morning” to them?

    Reply

  6. John Brzezinski says:

    First, I just want to make the point that whether or not this disrespectful treatment is aimed at important people or merely unimportant people, is irrelevant. “Important” people don’t command any different treatment than someone like Mr. Oezdemir.
    Second, I agree that this situation is deplorable and disconcerting and needs to be addressed. I am an American citizen, yet I feel like a suspect, or worse, when in contact with TSA or Customs staff. Their demeanor is generally gruff, hostile and grim. In contrast, their equals at the airport in Buenos Aires are polite, helpful, friendly and apologetic for the intrusions they make though out the process. Perhaps less organized, but warm, cheerful and smiling. Here, I felt like we returned to fascist state. Cold and efficient. Rather than “welcome home,” with a smile, we received a surly demand to know “what county were you in?” without virtually any eye contact; just one suspicious “once over.” I can only imagine how poorly people from other countries are being treated. And why? Does this hostile demeanor improve our security? I encourage everyone to write to their representatives. i.e. congressman and senator.

    Reply

  7. James Field says:

    I grew up and taught along the US Mexico border
    near San Diego. Never ever like to deal with the
    Border Patrol or whatever they are called now. And
    we would have to go through their check points
    even well into the US.
    I would say the Customs/immigration types in the
    US are a bit more competent/less belligerent than
    the Romanian border police but less professional
    or polite than the Hungarian border police. That
    is not much of a curve to be graded on.

    Reply

  8. tea says:

    what a useful comment…..NOT
    Steve — keep focusing on these issues — they are VERY important!

    Reply

  9. Tea Tephi says:

    I think Mr. Clemons should butt out of something so so obviously knows nothing about!

    Reply

  10. guer0chino says:

    It seems the comments here are bearing out my earlier observation that the indignities of border control are primarily borne by those with thousand-dollar wardrobes.
    And, Steve, I read your piece (co-authored with Michael Lind) on “the Brain Race” from Apr. 2006 in the NYTimes, per your request that I make “informed comment,” and came across this nugget which confirms (and informs…?) my earlier statement:
    “In making immigration laws, Congress caters to cheap-labor industries like agribusiness and sweatshop manufacturing while shortchanging the high-tech, high-wage industries on which the future of the American economy depends. Witness the Senate bill’s provision to admit 400,000 temporary workers a year, or roughly four million a decade, in addition to the 12 million mostly low-wage illegal immigrants already here, many of whose status would be legalized. Few if any of those guest workers would go to universities, corporate campuses or innovation clusters like Silicon Valley. They would head straight to restaurants, hotels and plantation-like farms.
    […]
    But with the vast pool of poorly paid, ill-educated laborers already within our borders, we do not need a third of a million new ones a year.”
    Translation: We have enough poor people, thank you. So our laws should make it harder for poor people to cross the border, and easier for rich people from other countries to get in. Bold, innovative idea entrepreneurialism, there, Clemons.
    As much traveling as you do, Steve, you don’t really know the first thing about what it’s like for the vast majority of the world to cross a national border. You may cross lots of borders in the course of your occupation, but you seem utterly blinded to the reality of the majority of laboring people who live in this world. And I make uninformed comment?
    I stand by what I said earlier: this blog is a mouthpiece for the wealthy and has such a limited fund of experience that it can only express indignation when the injustice of the world touches a rarified circle of White Washington. Maybe if you spent as much time going to rent parties in Anacostia as you do at cocktails parties in Georgetown, my earlier comment would be uninformed. As things appear to me, I stand by it.

    Reply

  11. Franklin says:

    Found a newsstory from MSNBC from about two months ago entitled
    “TSA’s new secret weapon: Politeness”
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29142020/
    Apparently, those lessons didn’t quite filter down the chain of command from the PR department.
    If they stopped the guy just because his name didn’t sound “German” — wow. I’d like to think too that the best TSA agents are the ones who are actually vetting new arrivals into the country. One way or another there was clearly a break-down in the system. At the very least people should know why they’re being detained.

    Reply

  12. arthurdecco says:

    Thoughtful post, Tony, I hear ya… but it shouldn’t matter what types of people apply for these jobs. Goons are goons and will always go where they can act their pathologies out. They’ll be doing that until time ends. We all already know that. So let’s not take our eyes off the ball: What is management prepared to do about the increasing levels of unacceptable behaviours in evidence on the frontlines? Do they have the power to remove boors, bullies and racists from their posts? Or not? And if not, why not?
    But the question I really need an answer to is this: Does US management honestly want to get rid of the goons that are now America’s public face? Or are they goons themselves, hiring soulmates and fellow travelers?
    …And what about those who wrote the laws that shield your border guards’ venality from scrutiny – what can we do about them?
    …Or about the congressmen and women and Senators all – those who have signed bills like this into law without reading them – what do we do with them?
    Where do we stop? (…Though I don’t know how can we stop there.)

    Reply

  13. TonyForesta says:

    Intriguing commentary arthurdecco. I do not know how many other countries suffer this same affliction, but as an American who has lived and traveled all over America – this kind of rampant abuse of authority is pervasive everywhere; from police in all 47 states I have visted, (though the South has by far the worst, most extreme abusers) to security guards, to immigration officials, to the TSA jerks at the airport, to the thugs in the FBI, the heartless punks in the IRS, the inane idiots at the DMV, and most every courthouse et al, – all these goons assume everyone is an evildoer one step away from jail, a beating, or a bullet.
    The quaint notion and forgotten concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is apparently no longer taught in the training (if there is any) of these badge wearing goons. Way to many, far too ignorant, culturally insentive, brutes and imbeciles are given way too much authority because of a badge.
    Part of the problem is that these low paying high authority jobs attract individuals of low intelligence and esteem who revel in the ability to project authority or imagine power over other people. The ad hoc McSecurity solutions to America’s delusional and insane neverendingwaronterror are a sad vestigate of the fascists brutes in the bushgov, and should be ended, and reinvented. Surely the worlds hyperpower can adopt more intelligent and effecient ways and means to secure our borders, screen passengers, and police our societies.

    Reply

  14. arthurdecco says:

    I refuse to believe the abuse people experience while attempting to enter the United States has anything to do with racial profiling, racism or security or ANY of that crap, even though all of those things are part and parcel of the adolescent attitudes held by most of your border guards that I’ve come into contact with.
    I crossed the US border from Canada for the LAST time in early October 2000 at Niagara Falls, almost a year before 9/11. I was driving a $65,000 car. I was wearing a thousand dollars worth of casual clothing and I was on my relaxed and puttering-along way to the annual boat show in Annapolis – a bastion of small-c conservatism in an area known for just that. I even gave the guard my business card which described me as a senior executive of a major international corporation in response to his question about “what my business was?”.
    None of that had any effect on his attitude towards me. The man who rudely interrogated me had an IQ somewhere around my shoe size and the ‘tude of of ghetto gangster. He had my heart fluttering in my chest and, I’m sure, my face turning red, with his arrogance, bellicosity and belligerence even though I was completely innocent of anything he could have been concerned with. Describing him as a brown shirted trailer trash thug is too kind.
    Am I arrogant? Undoubtedly. But that doesn’t alter the veracity of my previous statement. I was taught early on that it wasn’t necessary to apologize to stupid people for being more intelligent and informed than they were. I was also taught early on to be respectful of anyone willing to treat me fairly, irrespective of their social position or salary. After all, we all have to make our way through life holding the cards we’ve been dealt, don’t we? None of us should be blamed for our roots, should we? But that doesn’t prevent me from blaming your border guard thugs for their ‘tude. Or wanting to figuratively kick them in the balls for it.
    This attitude that you’ve described here, Steve, this attitude that others have confirmed here in the comments that followed your post is the ‘official’ attitude of your border services since at least the mid-nineties. These people are undoubtedly encouraged by their management to be the way they are. The vast majority of the guards I have been forced to put up with aren’t bright. They aren’t friendly. They aren’t even informed in any meaningful way. They don’t have a clue about what’s really going on in the world. But they have a government job that propaganda had made them believe is the US of A’s Final Stand Against Terrorism!…!
    Like I said before – they’re not very bright…
    Do they need to be straightened out? Obviously. But who’s gonna do it? …Obama? …Or anyone else in his corporatist, fright night administration?
    Yeah right.
    And meanwhile, back at the ranch… I’m only one of many people I know who now refuse to transact any business with the United States because none of us are willing to be humiliated by ignorant, sneering boors wearing wrinkled uniforms and carrying big guns when we attempt to enter your country.
    (Actually, it was the attitude of your border services back in the late 80’s that convinced me Amerika was a fascist state. It’s just gotten worse is all.)

    Reply

  15. fidelcastroruz says:

    the city of troy is under siege.
    wake up americans.
    “Meanwhile, as I predicted, we roll out the red carpet for this scum. I smell Hillary’s hand in this.”
    U.S. to lift ban on Bibi aide
    April 1, 2009
    WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States reportedly will lift its ban on a top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Ha’aretz reported Wednesday that Uzi Arad, a former Mossad chief whom Netanyahu plans to make his national security adviser, will get the visa that has been denied him since 2007.

    Reply

  16. Joe says:

    I agree with Ove Larsen, it is the system that causes this.
    I read unhealthy amounts of Chomsky, but this is one area of our government that could be vastly improved by the private sector. I am young, but also a veteran that work(ed) in the private sector doing customer service; I do not believe it requires my experience to say government employees are nearly incapable of providing “customer service”. The nature of federal employee reviews combined with the impediments of preforming boarder security, and the requirement of authority, excludes the possibility of friendly demeanor.
    Hiring customer-friendly government employees is as difficult as health care reform, it won’t happen unless there is a massive outcry by the people regardless of the fact that it should have happened years ago.

    Reply

  17. David says:

    Having been stopped by a policeman on a Sunday morning in Ludowici, Georgia at the height of the Civil Rights movement because we were in a car with New Jersey license plates and looked like the white college students we were, I have never forgotten what it means for someone with police authority to stop you and interrogate you when you have done nothing wrong and are clearly being profiled. It is never an inconvenience. It is always the power of the state over an individual, a power which must always, always be kept on a short lease, and must never be shrugged aside.
    In my case, I was asleep on the back seat when the policeman stopped the car to “check the registration.” It was my car, so my friend woke me up. The policeman was beligerent, apparently hoping to get me to respond in kind, which would have then been grounds to detain me. Even in my drowsy state, I knew enough about the game to be utterly cooperative and polite. In this instance, it worked. Not so for other people during that era.
    The point is that it is never ok for authorities to be belligerent or use their authority as if it were a personal perc, nor is it ever ok for authority to be misused for any reason. We as a society still don’t seem to get that.
    And profiling without probable cause, beyond simply paying attention without ever abusing authority, simply is not ok, and is really dumb. TSA spent too many years operating under the Cheney/Bush mindset. Janet Napolitano had better change that mindset, and she’d better do it without delay.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, as I predicted, we roll out the red carpet for this scum. I smell Hillary’s hand in this.
    U.S. to lift ban on Bibi aide
    April 1, 2009
    WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States reportedly will lift its ban on a top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Ha’aretz reported Wednesday that Uzi Arad, a former Mossad chief whom Netanyahu plans to make his national security adviser, will get the visa that has been denied him since 2007.
    Arad reportedly was banned because he is referred to in the indictment against Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon Iran analyst who pleaded guilty to relaying classified information.
    Arad has said his two meetings in 2004 with Franklin were innocent and did not involve classified information. According to the indictment, Franklin’s principal Israeli interlocutor was Naor Gilon, the political officer at the Israeli Embassy.
    Franklin’s dealings with Arad are unrelated to his role in a similar case pending against two former staffers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

    Reply

  19. JamesL says:

    Thanks for this post Steve. I am old enough to have had the experience of going through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, but I was naieve enough to consider it more of an adventure than a threat. They would have no reason to pick on little ol’ me, I thought. I recall too that Americans back then were full of themselves deriding the Russians for not allowing their citizens to travel freely, for surveilling everyone, for imposing on the people a government riddled with inefficiency, and where personal success depended on who you knew politically. Americans didn’t stop there: Italy was the bastion of governmental bloat together with an inability to get anything done. And Japan deserved a laugh out loud–you could still see the labels of the can lids they had made into car fenders, it was said. We have become many of those things that we ridiculed then, and the slide is ongoing. We have paid for our “security” by becoming less secure, more fearful, more arrogant, more greedy, and the ability to change that slide appear less a possibility than a continuing, accelerating slide.
    Ever since the shoe bomber, I’ve been waiting for a creative terrorist with a humorous streak to invent an explosive composed of two fabrics which when placed together would do something nasty. Exploding underpants! It wouldn’t even have to be very effective. But it would lead toward an airport scenario when all Americans would have to take off all their clothes for inspection. Don’t worry. It’s probably coming, and it will be in all our best interests.

    Reply

  20. erichwwk says:

    Today’s Doonebury,
    http://tinyurl.com/cwyplm
    a variant on this, as well as on this:
    [MOVED TO ABOVE HOT LINK: erichwwk ]
    Anyone know why sometimes two embedded URL’s are accepted, and other times not??

    Reply

  21. erichwwk says:

    Today’s Doonebury,
    http://tinyurl.com/cwyplm
    a variant on this, as well as on this:
    http://tinyurl.com/danemc

    Reply

  22. Richard Shepard says:

    This is typical in Dulles – and I am an American. I have found customs officials there rude and culturaly ignorant. And that is not to harsh and is the reason I fly into JFK or Newark – which actually are better perhaps because up north we are more used to a culturally diverse atmosphere. This type of treatment, bred of ignorance and lack of proper training undermines US credibility and is a holdover from the previous administration’s attitude.

    Reply

  23. alan says:

    My own experience at LA and SFO some years ago resulted in my reducing my visits to those that require me to fly to Washington. The Border Service has too many “tough guys” who have no idea what being polite is. It is a pity that this is the first impression a visitor gets when entering the US: a suspicious, unfriendly and overweight ###hole at the arrival counter!

    Reply

  24. Ove Larsen says:

    Hii Steve.
    Maybe try not to focus on the people – that have such a low salery – that they have to have 2 jobs to pay the bills. That is the people that have to work jobs like airport security.
    There is no excuse for the people who do things like that – but don’t focus on the indivudual – focus on the system.
    (sorry english is not my first language.
    Ove

    Reply

  25. Mr.Murder says:

    Meanwhile we have a plausible excuse for missile shields in Asia with the North Korea missile proliferation.
    Some would call it soft extortion.

    Reply

  26. Mr.Murder says:

    “Apparently this policy only began this January. Having gone through the very extensive & expensive process of securing resident alien status, it just irks me to no end. My husband is a RESIDENT of the US, just as I am… how long before they begin fingerprinting and photographing us all?”
    Only the guilty have reason to feel like criminals.
    “Some people should watch what they say” – Comrade Ari
    What’s to say commenting or logging here did not put up a flag on you. Maybe they hold you long enough to deem you might crack, have a panic attack, etc. They are trained to make you uncomfortable in hopes of eliciting justification for their rude handling of you.
    Perhaps a committee hearing needs to be initiated.
    Land of the detained, home of the free. We eradicated most of the ‘brave’ who we here when we arrived already.

    Reply

  27. fidelcastroruz says:

    be proud to be an american and at least to know youre free.
    LOL.
    the national socialist will at first love and support the patriot act then they will be the victims of said act.
    enjoy your freedom.
    fidel.

    Reply

  28. Maureen O'Brien says:

    I’m really frustrated with re-entering the US. My husband is a resident alien of the US, and he was fingerprinted and had his photo taken the last time we returned from an international trip. Apparently this policy only began this January. Having gone through the very extensive & expensive process of securing resident alien status, it just irks me to no end. My husband is a RESIDENT of the US, just as I am… how long before they begin fingerprinting and photographing us all?

    Reply

  29. Daro says:

    Posted by Mike Milton; “This is one major reason I will no longer travel to the US.”
    Bingo. Me too. That and the fact I would have to be fingerprinted. Anyway, I’ve been there 3 times and have seen enough poverty and homelessness to last a lifetime.

    Reply

  30. Steve Clemons says:

    Calvin Jones — could you send me an email at steve@thewashingtonnote.com about this. I’ll forward to my web guy to see if this is possible.
    all best, steve

    Reply

  31. Steve Clemons says:

    Guerochino — your comment is uninformed. I have written a great deal about the many others who are mishandled at our borders — or who suffer ridiculous indignities in the visa application process. I have written about this in the New York Times. Check that out. Read the pieces — and then come back and make some informed comments. All the best, steve clemons

    Reply

  32. Steve Clemons says:

    TS – Of course much worse has happened. I have witnessed situations where visitors did not speak English and where the border control officer decided yelling was the right response. I am not saying that Oezdemir and Pia Castro were abused — except for the abuse of uncertainty, harsh treatment and the like from officers who should not have been taking that posture. But their case is indicative of the many, many out there that won’t be written about in the press — and thus a mountain is deserved about what you consider a mole hill. all best, steve

    Reply

  33. TS says:

    Steve, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill here. According to other sites, Oezdemir was placed in a waiting room for an hour to be called. I have been in that room (the one in JFK, not Dulles), and waited for about 40 minutes. I had not realized until know that I had been “detained”.
    There are many cases of people encountering much worse treatment at US borders. Why not report on those, rather than a case of a minor inconvenience encountered by a prominent visitor?
    Profiling at the border? Yes, of course, that has always happened. You are surprised?

    Reply

  34. TS says:

    Steve, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill here. According to other sites, Oezdemir was placed in a waiting room for an hour to be called. I have been in that room (the one in JFK, not Dulles), and waited for about 40 minutes. I had not realized until know that I had been “detained”.
    There are many cases of people encountering much worse treatment at US borders. Why not report on those, rather than a case of a minor inconvenience encountered by a prominent visitor?
    Profiling at the border? Yes, of course, that has always happened. You are surprised?

    Reply

  35. guer0chino says:

    Indignation saved for dignitaries…go figure.
    Where’s the comment on the ICE Raids that effect people who’s labor makes possible the wealth of those whose mouthpiece your blog so typically is.

    Reply

  36. Mr.Murder says:

    Perhaps having Customs understaffed leads to such inadequate situations?
    Turkey needs to be brought along EU/NATO membership as the fulcrum to securing interests on the caucus/pipeline trail.

    Reply

  37. Bill R. says:

    No doubt on the left wing blogs this incident will be another attack point on Obama and his not bringing “change” they so histrionically believe in. As we begin to see here.
    The Obama trip to Turkey can do much symbolically to help counteract the idiocy of a few border agents, and to educate the American and Muslim public.

    Reply

  38. ... says:

    the usa – islamophobic, arabphobic nation – it shows up at the border with the border guards… this is what bushology 2002 and onward has wrought… blame it on 9-11 all you want, some politicians used it to make war on islam and anything arab… just ask tony..

    Reply

  39. dirk says:

    This shit really has to stop. I travel frequently between US, Canada, Europe, UK — and it is true that the attitude by US customs is the most pompous, arrogant and unkind (vs Customs officials in other countries).
    Even with a US passport, I’m treated with suspicion (it’s my interpretation of course; but it’s happened enough times that I really have to wonder about the leadership in US Customs and the culture of the place).
    They certainly have a right to ask questions. However, their attitude is often surly if not outright hostile. And the implication always seems to be that if they don’t like your responses, trouble will follow.
    I naively thought this would change (and quickly) with the new administration. However, bringing a cultural change to an organization is difficult, but it can’t come soon enough IMO. I just wonder if Obama et al are doing anything about it?

    Reply

  40. Philippe says:

    He should consider himself lucky:
    There are some in Guantanamo that did even less then trying to get into the US. They were abducted in their country.

    Reply

  41. Mike Milton says:

    This is one major reason I will no longer travel to the US.

    Reply

  42. Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle says:

    Steve:
    I hope you don’t mind me making a suggestion. Could we get even minimal HTML tags in comments? That way we can highlight specific points that we commenters are responding to. Thank you and keep up the great work.

    Reply

  43. Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle says:

    If that kind of profiling is going on, then the US Customs and Border Protection operation should be investigated and challenged by the US Congress, the media and the American public.
    Congress seriously investigate? When did they last investigate anything seriously? Ollie North(I’m being serious .. while that investigation was far better than anything since .. it was far from the best they could do)?

    Reply

  44. WigWag says:

    “I think that any American should feel embarrassed by the treatment important guests of the United States received this past week at the hands of US Customs and Border Protection officials at Dulles International Airport.”
    Steve is exactly right. But if the treatment of “important” guests is occasionally bad, the treatment of more typical guests is frequently worse. Anyone who has ever been detained, however briefly, knows that the darker the skin the more likely a person is to be detained.
    I have been told by many friends that even as Americans it is frequently easier and faster for them to go through passport control in other countries than it is for them to reenter their own country; the United States. Ever since the Customs and Border Protection Service was moved to the Department of Homeland Security, foreign guests and Americans alike have experienced rude and inefficient service.
    Steve is right; this is a national embarrassment. When is Janet Napolitano going to do something about it?

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