I had the pleasure, last Sunday, of participating in an interview with Michael Yon on PunditReview radio. Michael had finished up a year out of the country, covering both Afghanistan and Iraq as a citizen journalist. He was in Hong Kong when we did the interview (you can hear it here). You could tell how excited he was to be coming home to the US. My last words to him were, “welcome home, Michael”.
And how was he welcomed home? From his Facebook page:
Got arrested at the Seattle airport for refusing to say how much money I make. (The uniformed ones say I was not “arrested”, but they definitely handcuffed me.) Their videos and audios should show that I was polite, but simply refused questions that had nothing to do with national security. Port authority police eventually came — they were professionals — and rescued me from the border bullies.
His description of those who handcuffed him is appropriate and I applaud his resistance to their questions. He also put a little context around what happened to him in his next posting on Facebook, something which I find disturbing:
When they handcuffed me, I said that no country has ever treated me so badly. Not China. Not Vietnam. Not Afghanistan. Definitely not Singapore or India or Nepal or Germany, not Brunei, not Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Kuwait or Qatar or United Arab Emirates. No county has treated me with the disrespect can that can be expected from our border bullies.
Unfortunately, in the “home of the free and the land of the brave”, that’s not at all an uncommon tale. For the life of me, I can’t figure the “national security” angle on income. And I have to admit I’d have told whoever asked me that it was none of their business.
This is an example of the individual tyrannies that can establish themselves within nameless/faceless bureaucracies. I have no idea if that question is a standard one that our border agents are supposed to ask. If it is, it is an unwarranted invasion of privacy. But my guess is it isn’t. My guess, based simply on a hunch, is that this was some border agent playing his or her little game and not used to being refused. And when refused, didn’t have the good sense to back off and instead escalated the situation.
I hope Michael gets a good lawyer and goes after the individual and the agency for attempting to invade his privacy. National security is a serious business – but it appears, given the info we have, this had absolutely nothing to do with national security or any type of security.
Anyway, “Welcome home, Mike”.