TBE is in America after a trying ordeal at JFK. Apparently due to the fact that our editor-in-chief’s passport is all bombed up and depleted, and furthermore contains stamps from many countries that write all in squiggly, (link may not work in Egypt and other squiggly countries) he was detained upon arrival at JFK, and sent to the room on the side to await his fate. Exclusive details after the jump.
TBE’s editor arrived at the customs area and got in line. Upon arriving at the desk, the gentleman tried a couple times to swipe the passport through his machine, apparently without results. He then asked a couple questions about what TBE was doing in Cairo (surprisingly, he had not heard of TBE, which sources had assured us was required reading for Homeland Security employees). He then marked up our customs card with two markers, a black one and a yellow highlighter. This was TBE’s first insinuation that things weren’t going our way.
Our editor was then escorted to the room on the side without receiving further details about what was going on. He was eventually called to the desk of another functionary, who asked him basically the same questions, then asked if he had ever traveled to Pakistan (???), to which TBE replied no, and when the last time he had traveled to Jordan or Syria.
Armed with this information, the desk man eventually decided to call in backup, and TBE submitted to another interview, this time with another, much kinder gentleman, who cleared us of all wrongdoing. When TBE asked why this endless round of interviews was taking place, he was told that it was because while some people go to the Middle East for innocent reasons, others go with a more nefarious purpose, and it is the job of Homeland Security to ferret out these ne’er-do-wells. Fair enough.
Unfortunately for TBE, this gentleman passed the passport back to the other fellow, who finally called TBE to his desk to receive a stamp allowing him to visit the homeland. TBE asked him essentially the same question, to which he replied that TBE was detained briefly because there were “Anglo-Saxons” known to be traveling to the Middle East (in which he included Pakistan) for terroristic training. Although TBE’s editor resented the assumption that he is an Anglo-Saxon, he let it pass uncontested. He does, however, wonder whether Anglo-Saxon is the mandated PC term for generic white person?
Perhaps more ominously, when our editor asked whether this little episode meant that he would henceforth be on some sort of list of people to stop for questioning, he couldn’t get a straight denial. The best our interlocutor would do is “Not necessarily.”
TBE wrote this little ditty about the experience:
2 Live Crew, in solidarity with TBE:
UPDATE: According to Gawker, JFK now prefers that travelers use only Arabic script when referring to it.