Lock up your journalists

Lock up your journalists.

Reporters in chains. Under Homeland Security orders, journalists from England, Sweden, Holland and other friendly countries are being detained at U.S. airports, strip-searched and deported. [Salon.com]

“Most countries that require special visas for journalists tend to be totalitarian states.” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

As I read Elena Lappin's story I found myself becoming very angry at the way she was treated both personally and in a more abstract sense. I would say that, if this was a report about how UK immigration had behaved, I would feel disgusted right now.

Though my experience was far removed from the images of real torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, it was also, as one American friend put it, “conceptually related”, at distant ends of the same continuum and dictated by a disregard for the humanity of those deemed “in the wrong”. American bloggers and journalists would later see my experience as reflecting the current malaise in the country. Dennis Roddy wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Our enemies are now more important to us than our friends … Much of the obsession with homeland security seems to turn on the idea of the world infecting the US.”

For all of us hostile aliens I guess this puts the whole “blogging as journalism” debate in a new light doesn't it?

These would have been comforting thoughts the following morning when I was driven back (in handcuffs, of course) to the communal detention room at LAX, and spent hours waiting, without food, while the guards munched enormous breakfasts and slurped hot morning drinks (detainees are not allowed tea or coffee). I incurred the wrath of the boss when I insisted on edible food. “I'm in charge in here. Do you know who you are? Do you know where you are? This isn't a hotel,” he screamed.

The Salon piece ends with a good question:

The other unanswered question is: Whose idea was it to crack down on the supposed menace of invading foreign media hordes. “The Bush administration doesn't like the press?” Goldberg asked rhetorically. “That's the best I can come up with, frankly. They've been reluctant for almost four years now to give information out to the press. They don't deal with the press on a level playing field. They've made life hard on other civil liberties. I can't imagine them bending over backward to help the press.”

[Curiouser and curiouser!]

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