Friday, December 21, 2007

"Greatest Humiliation ... Ever"

From the "Best of the Web" website (h/t Digby) comes a story about a young woman from Iceland who decided to take a trip to New York for some holiday shopping and soon found herself cuffed in the airport. (Who knew you could be in line one minute and cuffed the next?)

Last Sunday I and a few other girls began our trip to New York....
-As I waited [airport officials] to finish examining my passport I heard an official say that there was something which needed to be looked at more closely and I was directed to...Homeland Security [and] told that... I had overstayed my visa by 3 weeks in 1995 [and] would not be admitted... and would be sent home on the next flight... A detailed interrogation session ensued.
-I was photographed and fingerprinted... asked questions which I felt had nothing to do with the issue... [and] forbidden to contact anyone...
-I was then made to wait... for 5 hours.
When 5 hours had passed and I had been awake for 24 hours, I was told that they were waiting for officials who would take me to a kind of waiting room. There I would be given a bed to rest in, some food and I would be searched.
-What turned out was something else. I was taken to another office exactly like the one where I had been before and once again along wait ensued.
-At this office all my things were taken from me [but I sent}... a single sms [message?]}to worried relatives and friends when I was granted a bathroom break. After that the cell phone was taken from me...
-I was exhausted, tired and hungry. I didn't understand the officials' conduct, for they were treating me like a very dangerous criminal...
-I was removed from the cubicle and two armed guards placed me up against a wall.
A chain was fastened around my waist and I was handcuffed to the chain. Then my legs were placed in chains.
-I asked for permission to make a telephone call but they refused.
So secured, I was taken from the airport terminal in full sight of everybody.
-I have seldom felt so bad, so humiliated and all because I had taken a longer vacation than allowed under the law...
-We ended up in front of a jail. I could hardly believe that this was happening. Was I really about to be jailed? I was led inside in the chains and there yet another interrogation session ensued.
-I was fingerprinted once again and photographed. I was made to undergo a medical examnination, I was searched and then I was placed in a jail cell. I was asked absurd questions such as: When did you have your last period? What do you believe in? Have you ever tried to commit suicide?
I was completely exhausted, tired and cold.
-Fourteen hours after I had landed I had something to eat and drink for the first time...porridge and bread...
-I was afraid and the attitude of all who handled me was abysmal to say the least. They did not speak to me as much as snap at me.
-Once again I asked to make a telephone call and this time the answer was positive... [but] the telephone was setup for collect calls only and it was not possible to make overseas calls.
-The jailguard held my cell phone in his hand. I explained to him that I could not make a call from the jail telephone and asked to be allowed to make one call from my own phone. That was out of the question.
-I spent the next 9 hours in a small, dirty cell. The only thing in there was a narrow steel board which extended out from the wall, a sink and toilet.
-I wish I never experience again in my life the feeling of confinement and helplessness which I experienced there.
-I was hugely relieved when, at last, I was told that I was to be taken to the airport, that is to say until I was again handcuffed and chained.
-Then I could take no more and broke down and cried. I begged them at least to leave out the leg chains but my request was ignored.
-When we arrived at the airport, another jail guard took pity on me and removed the leg chains. Even so I was led through a full airport terminal handcuffed and escorted by armed men. I felt terrible.
On seeing this, people must think that there goes a very dangerous criminal. In this condition I was led up into the Icelandair waiting room, and was kept handcuffed until I entered the embarkation corridor.
-I was completely run down by all this in both body and spirit. Fortunately I could count on good people and both Einar (the captain) and the crew did all which they could to try to assist me.
-My friend Auður was in close contact with my sister and the consul and embassy had been contacted.
-However, all had received misleading information and all had been told that I had been detained at the airport terminal, not that I had been put in jail. Now the Foreign Ministry is looking into the matter and I hope to receive some explanation why I was treated this way.

Welcome to Tom Tancredo's America, baby! Crime is a disease and he's the cure! Maybe next time you'll think twice before you stay 3 extra weeks, or come over here to spend your money! Here's an explanation for you: don't do the crime if you can't do the time! Don't come for our sales if you don't like our jails!

(I know, I shouldn't laugh at things like this, but they're so stunning that I almost have to.)

How many times could criminal defense lawyers retell the part of the story below, after meeting with clients?

I saw the officials in this section handle other cases and it was clear that these were men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania. I was careful to remain completely cooperative...

Yeah, guns and cuffs have a way of making you "cooperative," don't they? Tazers work pretty well too, I'm told.


shg said...

Great post, David.

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