The fascist tendencies of DHS

I saw a diary over at Dkos that highlights the ordeals of Nalini Ghuman, a Welsh musician and musicologist whose nigthmare experience with the Department of Homeland Security has been detailed in the New York Times this morning in this article

Ms. Ghuman, a Welsh citizen, had done her PhD studies at UC Berkely and was working at Mills College in the Bay on a visa, but was detained last August at the airport in San Francisco upon returning from a brief visit from Britain. I’ll provide some snips below.

This story reeks of fascism and we cannot allow this shit to stand. We must fight the government and the DHS for this behavior.

Ms. Ghuman said that officers tore up her H-1B visa, which was valid through May 2008, defaced her British passport, and seemed suspicious of everything from her music cassettes to the fact that she had listed Welsh as a language she speaks. A redacted government report about the episode obtained by her lawyer under the Freedom of Information Act erroneously described her as ‘Hispanic.’

Held incommunicado in a room in the airport, she was groped during a body search, she said, and was warned that if she moved, she would be considered to be attacking her armed female searcher. After questioning her for hours, the officers told her that she had been ruled inadmissible, she said, and threatened to transfer her to a detention center in Santa Clara, Calif., unless she left on a flight to London that night.

She was not allowed to contact the British Consulate. She was not given any reason for her detention.

‘They told me I was nobody, I was nowhere and I had no rights,’ she said. ‘For the first time, I understood what the deprivation of liberty means.’

As Ms. Ghuman tells it, the officers said they did not know why she was being excluded. They suggested that perhaps a jilted lover or envious colleague might have written a poison pen letter about her to immigration authorities, she said, or that Mills College might have terminated her employment without telling her. The notions are unfounded, she said.

One officer eventually told her that her exclusion was probably a mistake, and advised her to reapply for a visa in London after a 10-day wait. But it took more than eight weeks for her file to be transferred to the United States Embassy in London, in part because of routine anthrax screening at the State Department.

Now, over a year later, the ‘mistake’ has still not been resolved. There is more information about Ms. Ghuman’s case at the website of the American Musicology Society. There are guidelines there for writing letters of support if interested.

The jackboots, y’all… the jackboots.

Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
~Franz Kafka


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  1. the clock is running out on our rights and freedoms.

    • pico on September 17, 2007 at 21:39

    incidents like these are the exception rather than the rule.  But we have to make known that even a rare exception is intolerable, because we don’t want this becoming the rule down the road.

    Thanks for highlighting this story.

  2. and parts of it, i still think so, i suppose.

    but this shit has me reminded of the buttle / tuttle mix up, where the authorities bust in on an innocent man at home with his family, haul him away, never to be seen again. all because of a fly that gunked up the works.

  3. I am not able to edit this diary. It keeps saying there is an error and to return to the front page.

    I wanted to add this quotation at the end:

    Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.
    ~Franz Kafka

  4. when asked why they don’t oppose giving up more and more of their freedoms…this is the answer. The more power and the fewer checks a government has, the more damage the “bad apples” can do–and eventually they end up running the show.

    • plf515 on September 17, 2007 at 22:02

    is an Iranian citizen, living in England.  He is a computer expert.  He travels with suitcases full of electronics.

    He tells me that he sees parts of airports no one wants to see.

  5. We are not engaged in a war on terror, but a war OF terror.  We are to be made afraid, so that we can be controlled, so we will not dissent, so we will acquiesce quietly and willingly while our rights are disassembled and carted away.

    This is how fascism works. It is not coming to America; it is here, right now, and we must resist it.

    • frosti on September 18, 2007 at 03:10

    It was the common practice to interrogate and detain my US Citizen son from 2001 to 2006, every time he checked in for a flight.  It started when he was 16 and in high school, and continued into college.  He has absolutely no record.  He is blond, blue-eyed Scandinavian type looking guy.  I appealed to the TSA ombudsman to get him off the list and sent in copies of his documents at the request of the ombudsman. This resulted in identity theft, but he was still on the list.  One time he called me from the San Jose airport because he was detained by the police, and couldn’t even get anything to eat without the police accompanying him.  They waited until a special antiterrorist FBI agent from San Francisco was available to interrogate him. The agent asked him about his middle school, high school,community,  whether he had ever been in a mosque, whether he knew anyone who had ever been in a mosque, etc. After 2 hours of this, the FBI agent gave him his business card with 7 different ways to contact him, and cleared him to fly (the flight had left 5 hours earlier).  He had a couple of other times when he was evaluated for clearance, but by then he could at least whip FBI agent’s card out of his wallet.  We could never understand why he was profiled, except that maybe  his name was confused with an IRA terrorist?? It resulted in my son’s clear understanding of why we need our civil liberties, since his were taken away so readily. He is finally off of the list at last report. He is 21 and still has no record of any wrong-doing.

  6. Fuck this.

    Democrats in 2009 first agenda item: abolish DHS.

  7. gets pulled out of line and questioned every time he flies. He’s dark and swarthy a Jewish public defender and a great guy! We are the enemy now. It is fascism, were not approaching but there. Were Good Germans all.

  8. although I have nothing to hide, never have and
    probably never will, I should have to give up
    my civil rights to satisfy some DHS thug.  I’m
    way too old to put up with the bullshit.  But
    will fight to the death the further taking away
    of out American civil rights.  Come to think of
    it… 2009 damn well better restore our rights!
    Should be #1 on the long, long list of stuff
    that needs to be fixed asap.

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