Coming Soon Near You

Anthony Lewis writing in in The New York Review of Books on Un-American Activities:

The Times of London last May published a letter to the editor from Tony Willoughby of Willoughby & Partners, a firm of solicitors. “The head of IT [information technology] at our law firm,” he wrote,

is a Muslim. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word. His fanaticism, if he has any, is restricted to cricket. Last Sunday he went on a business trip to California. On arrival at Los Angeles he was detained and interrogated on suspicion of being a terrorist….

For the first 12 hours he was refused access to a telephone. After 16 hours, not having been given any food, he asked if he could have some. He was given ham sandwiches and, when he explained that he could not eat pork, was told: “You eat what you are given.” He did not eat. He was eventually escorted back to the airport in handcuffs and deported.

Mr. Willoughby wrote to American officials seeking an explanation. He got back what he calls “a fobbing-off letter”—and his firm’s laptop computer, which had been confiscated at the airport. Its data had been wiped out.

That is a mild example, very mild, of what has happened to the US government’s treatment of aliens since September 11, 2001.

Lewis reviews Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism by David Cole and writes, “I did not really appreciate the scope of what the Bush administration has done to non-citizens until I read this book.”