But that doesn't mean TSA agents are supposed to wear blinders. George's passport alone -- which he did not have to show to board a domestic flight -- should warrant extra scrutiny. Without the "bomb" flashcard.
Roper maintains that after the initial questioning, TSA agents should have understood George was an American student with a Middle Eastern Studies major -- and promptly let him catch his plane. Instead, TSA and Philadelphia police detained and questioned George -- who, according to the TSA, had been flagged because he exhibited fear reflexes -- until the FBI questioned him.
(As an aside: The ACLU complaint claims that authorities never Mirandized George during the nearly five hours he was held. That would mean that authorities were faster to Mirandize accused Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab than George. That means authorities questioned George longer than Abdulmutallab without Mirandizing him.)
According to the complaint, a TSA supervisor questioned George "in a hostile and aggressive manner," while he was "polite and calm." Also, FBI agents questioned George to see if he was involved with any "pro-Islamic groups," then determined George was not a threat. However, the complaint alleges that FBI questions were "wide-ranging and strayed far from any conceivable criminal activity."
Boo-hoo. "Nick is not claiming to have been scarred for life. No one is trying to get rich off this," Roper told me. And: "What this is about is accountability."
You see, if learning Arabic or traveling to the Middle East is enough to get you handcuffed and questioned by the FBI, then -- Roper said this -- "the terrorists have won."
Au contraire; if TSA staff, airport cops and FBI agents -- the defendants in this lawsuit -- are afraid to do their jobs, then terrorists will win.
Look no further than Fort Hood, Texas. Colleagues were afraid to report the radicalized rants of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, lest they seem anti-Islamic, so they looked the other way. The toll: 13 dead.
Now, I won't say that the Philly security team did everything right. If George's claim of remaining handcuffed for two hours is true, that is excessive. But if the student truly wants accountability, he can complain through the proper channels about abusive treatment. If his goal, however, is to cow airport security folks so that they'll be afraid to question some kid with an "I h Jihad" t-shirt and a boarding pass, then this lawsuit is the perfect venue.
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