24 January 2015

American arrested for carrying Arabic "flash cards"

Nick was heading off to start his senior year at Pomona College in California, back in August 2009, when cops detained, aggressively interrogated, handcuffed, and locked him in a jail cell for nearly five hours at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Why was he targeted? Because Nick, a dual major in physics and Middle Eastern studies, was carrying a set of English-Arabic flashcards in for his language class--and Rogue Nation, a book critical of U.S. foreign policy that was written by a former Reagan administration official.
She was in mid-sentence talking to me when a Philadelphia police officer appeared behind me and ordered me to put my hands behind my back. He cuffed my hands, grabbed my arms, and, in full view of the rest of the passengers, walked me through the entire Philadelphia airport and into the police substation.

No one informed me of my rights, and no one would tell me why I was being not just searched but arrested by police, when I was in violation of no law. I had never been arrested, and no one knew I was there.

The police officer left me in a cell at the police station for several more hours. He did not uncuff my hands from behind my back. He did not tell me what I was being held for. He did not tell me how long I would be there. After about two hours I asked to go to the bathroom, and on the way back I again asked why I was being held. He answered me with the same attitude the TSA agent had shown me: "I dunno, what'd you do?"
This is the American we have created for ourselves.  In the news now because he just received a settlement of his lawsuit. 

More details at the ACLU website, via BoingBoing.


  1. Hey- I just saw Ricky Jay single handedly throw playing cards into the rind of a watermelon! No telling what this guy could do with terrorist flash cards...

  2. Welcome to America -- no longer "land of the free."

  3. It wasn't so long ago that the government was bewailing the lack of Arabic speakers.

  4. its really strange to me to see how the citizens of the us are trained to look at Muslims as their enemy when the few rich elite are stealing the wealth of the whole nation for themselves. the enemy lies within, if you don't believe me ask yourself this "why are all the police forces being militarized ?" so the rich can suppress a peasant uprisings that's why. no I'm not Muslim or from the usa

  5. We got extensively questioned by security at the airport for carrying a copy of Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' in our hand luggage...

    1. I remember thinking as a kid what kind of insanity it took for a country to burn books- never thinking I'd grow up in one (particularly one that prided itself in freedom) that would take us to that precipice, one that also bans (factual) science and history books in schools.

  6. and all he got was 25k. :-(


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