We have seen how David Miranda was questioned for nine hours and had his electronic equipment taken from him by British security forces in the transit area of Heathrow airport. This article describes how the NSA actually pays the British secret service to spy on their behalf because the British have weaker regulations of their government officials’ actions.
But we should not forget that ordinary people are also targeted and subjected to interrogations at airports without any basis for suspicion other than perhaps their ethnicity.
Kadra Abdi, a young Somali-American woman, describes her experience when she returned from a trip to Sweden to speak at a conference. Despite the fact that the US Embassy in Stockholm sponsored her trip, she was targeted for special treatment on her return.
I traveled back to Minneapolis on Sunday, June 9. Upon my return, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport conducted an unnecessary, unjustified, illegal, and degrading search.
The Officer said my name and country of origin were “red flags” and that people with my name do “bad things.” He said “there is always an issue when people are entering the United States.” Simply put, I was the target of racial, ethnic, and religious profiling.
My ethnic and religious background raised a red flag for the officer, and I was profiled based on my identity—not because of anything I had actually said or done.
The officer was clearly searching for, and intent on finding, something more. He threatened to find something in my luggage to use against me. His language was demeaning, and he would not let me speak. He did not like that I challenged and questioned his approach. And when I insisted on real answers to my questions, he responded in a very slow, degrading manner. He also kept repeating himself, at which point, I asked why he was speaking in a condescending manner to me. This only infuriated him more.
At this point, I asked the officer for a complaint card, and he threatened to make notes on my passport. He said if I complained about the incident, he would lie in order to ensure that I have a difficult time whenever I travel in the future.
When I asked for his name, he refused at first and then gave me his last name only: Brooks. Officer Brooks began to shout at me, saying, “If you file a complaint against me, I will write things in our system about you.” His threat and refusal to provide me with his full name was alarming.
There is no getting away from the fact that we have little or no rights at ports of entry into a country and that the security officers at these places know this and feel free to abuse their power.