• America is Safer: Khan Detained and Questioned by TSA in Canada

    October 29, 2012 // 5 Comments »

    Imran Khan, a former cricket star, and Pakistani politician critical of U.S. drone strikes, says American authorities detained and questioned him at a Canadian airport.

    He had boarded a plane in Toronto bound for New York, but was removed from the plane and interrogated on his views on drones. This month he led a contentious march to the border of Pakistan’s tribal region to protest drone strikes. A person traveling with Khan said Khan was told there was concern about possible violence at an anti-drone protest the politician was scheduled to lead in the United States. But that protest had been canceled. Khan also was asked about the fund-raising he was doing in the country. He was allowed to enter the U.S. on a later flight, albeit after a two hour interrogation.

    So, whatever, freedom!

    What could be the possible point of detaining and interrogating Khan? Was he a threat to the passengers and the plane? Did he have Semtex stapled to his underwear? Was he planning to take the last chicken meal and leave everyone behind him with the fish?

    The only possible rationale of course was intimidation, the American government letting one of its critics know that We Are Watching, and even though we chose to let you go this time buddy boy, don’t assume it’ll always work this smoothly. Just like that– finger snap– you could be on another plane, straight to sunny Gitmo. Oh, and have a nice day.

    The intimidation game is amplified given who Khan is. A once and possibly future leader of Pakistan (he is aiming at Prime Minister, and is considered one of the most popular politicians in Pakistan), the U.S. is getting its licks in early and often. Also, with Khan’s status in Pakistan and the Muslim world, the U.S. knew his detention would make world news. It was intended to do so, warning non-celebrity drone opponents of what awaits them in free America. This should all buttress America’s “soft power” efforts to make friends abroad.

    Ya’ll watch your step now in this part of ‘da countryside boy!

    BONUS: What were U.S. law enforcement agents doing working in Canada? Why, enforcing U.S. law on foreign soil, of course! For the “convenience” of travelers, the U.S. has worked out pre-inspection regimes with certain countries, mostly Canada, Shannon, Ireland and some Caribbean nations. These agreements allow the U.S. to station law enforcement personnel abroad and throw people out of the U.S. even before they enter the U.S. The U.S. also has TSA “advisors” in fifteen other foreign airports. And what a nice cover job those make!

    From Glenn Greenwald, more on the use of border controls to intimidate and harass U.S. critics.

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    Posted in Democracy