What we’re reading: Detained by TSA for learning Arabic, put your hand in your pants, Running of Congressmen

Student detained for toting Arabic flash cards sues police

TSA in its infinite wisdom stopped a traveler for carrying Arabic/English flashcards through airport security. They detained him for five hours. Now the ACLU is involved as well as the FBI. This event happened back in September 2009.

Nick George, a student at Pomona College in California, was grilled by the TSA on “who did 9/11” and asked by FBI agents whether he was a communist after airport security officers found Arabic-English language learning cards in his luggage last summer, according to news reports and the ACLU.

George was boarding a plane to California on Aug. 29, 2009, after visiting his native Pennsylvania when TSA agents noticed the cards. George had been studying Arabic and used the flash cards — which have Arabic on one side and English on the other — to help him translate the Arabic news service al-Jazeera. Among the flash cards were the words “terrorist” and “explosion,” the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

A Washington Times editorial noted a strange twist of logic at TSA:

A young American with a white-bread name (“Nick George”) and a clean-cut mien returns from Jordan to resume his studies at Pomona College in California and gets handcuffed and detained for five hours by U.S. immigration authorities and Philadelphia police. Why? Well, he had Arabic-language flash cards in his pocket. Also, upon his return to the United States, his hair was shorter than on his Pennsylvania driver’s license. “That is an indication sometimes,” explained Lt. Louis Liberati, “that somebody may have gone through a radicalization.” Really? As Mr. George’s boomer mom remarked, once upon a time, long hair was a sign of radicalization.

Canadian airport security forces woman to put her hands inher pants

Canada’s equivalent of our loveable TSA, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, is serious about getting samples of explosives from passengers. They are asking passengers to put their hands in their pockets and then checking the passengers hands for explosive residue. This poor woman didn’t have any pockets in her pant suit, so they told her to put her hands in her pants and present them (her hands, not her pants) for explosives detection.

The consultant had passed the first wave of security for a January flight from Toronto to New York. “As I approached the second security, I was asked to put my hands in my pockets. Wearing a women’s suit, I did not have pants pockets. The guard then told me to put my hands down my pants. I was flabbergasted. …They wanted to swab my hands for explosives,” she recalls.

She did, and was initiated into the humiliating new world of explosive-powder checks, now part of the security process at Canadian airports for travellers who don’t pass through the full-body scanner.

Seven Trampled In Annual ‘Running Of The Congressmen’

On a lighter note, with tongue firmly in cheek, The Onion, reported on the Annual Running of the Congressmen. Like the world-famous event in Pamplona, Spain, this Washington, D,C,, event has its share of thrills and life-threatening moments.

In what Washington insiders are calling “one of the most impressive displays of congressional virility in U.S. history,” seven people were trampled Monday in the 83rd annual Running Of The Congressmen. Injuries ranged from minor tie-clip abrasions to full-body impact trauma.

At 1 p.m., thousands of spectators lined the streets as the enraged herd of senators and representatives descended Capitol Hill in a cloud of dust. Joint C-SPAN-ESPN2 coverage of the event showed a double-breasted, wing-tipped mass of elected officials bearing down on a fleeing crowd of lobbyists, congressional pages and countless other thrill-seekers who braved the danger to prove their manhood.

Illustration: www.darussalam.com