Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'll give you three guesses...

So here's a story that would have astonished me three or four years ago.
BOSTON - On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres. Then they let him into the United States.

The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.

...At a time when the United States is tightening its borders, how could a man toting what appeared to be a bloody chain saw be allowed into the country?
Because his name wasn't Ahmed Hussein?

Just a guess.

Let me tell you two stories.

One man tries to cross the US-Canadian border (into Canada, I might add) after a family vacation. He hasn't done anything suspicious on the flight, and is not carrying anything dangerous or illegal. He has committed the crime of knowing someone who may or may not be a terrorist back in 1997. He is sent to Syria to be systematically tortured for months.

Another man attempts to cross the US-Canadian border, into the US, covered in blood and carrying several blood-covered weapons. He has just brutally murdered an old man and his wife. He is sent along his way.


Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that if this guy were say, a black guy in a nice car drenched in blood and carrying a chain saw driving around in LA his story might have had a different outcome as well.

I just don't buy the reason given by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, honestly.
Bill Anthony, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the Canada-born Despres could not be detained because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and was not wanted on any criminal charges on the day in question.

Anthony said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released. During that time, he said, customs agents employed "every conceivable method" to check for warrants or see if Despres had broken any laws in trying to re-enter the country.

"Nobody asked us to detain him," Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. ... We are governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any regulations."
What regulation did Maher Arar violate?

How well do you know all of your acquaintances? Can you be so sure that the brother of someone you know casually, maybe who did a favor for you and witnessed the signing of your lease when you were in a pinch, isn't a wanted terrorist? Should you do an in-depth background check on everyone you know?

Sigh. I am depressed.

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