For the first time ever, I am turning over the writing of much of this introduction to our guest today, investigative reporter Dave Lindorff – which is to say, I’m simply going to read to you excerpts from his piece in the August, 22 edition of The Nation.
Dave and his wife were about to board a plane at Heathrow Airport in London when they showed their boarding passes to security. Dave’s wife got through.
Now, I quote: “when I ran my pass, it flashed “Invalid.”
A security attendant pointed me to a transit desk where I could get a new boarding pass printed. An agent there ran a new card and then pressed a rubber stamp on it before handing it to me. Spotting, in fresh red ink, the words “ICE Security,”
I asked, “Why’s a stamp from the U.S. Immigration and Customs service being put on my boarding pass here in the UK? I’m not an immigrant.”
The ticketing agent replied, “That’s being done at the request of your Homeland Security Department, sir. You are on their list.” END QUOTE.
So what? They were through the wicket, inside Heathrow’s secure pre-board area.
QUOTE: “Suddenly, I heard my name on the terminal’s main PA system: “Mr. Lindorff, report immediately to your gate for a special security check!”
Arriving at the gate, I announced myself, and the gate attendant immediately said into his walkie-talkie, “The Lindorffs are here.” END QUOTE.
Quickly they were walked somewhere else. Dave’s phones, computer and his hands were all checked for traces of explosives. His suitcase was rummaged. He and his wife were free to go. But first – AGAIN QUOTING –
I said, “I am a U.S. journalist with no criminal record. Why am I being treated like a suspected terrorist?”
“We don’t think you are a terrorist,” he replied. “It’s your Department of Homeland Security that’s telling us do this.”
I said, “I get it. I’m a journalist and my government doesn’t like journalists.”
“We know you have a lot of problems right now in the U.S..”
SO ENDETH OUR QUOTATIONS.
If it sounds to you like Lindorff’s constitutional rights were violated, it sounds like a federal judge would agree, and he’s given the lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who sued against similar treatment, and for the FBI, till October, 18 to figure out a better way to protect the national security without trashing innocent civilians’ constitutional rights.
Dave Lindorff is an American investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. He was a winner of the 2019 Izzy Award for Investigative journalism, named for the patron saint of journalistic investigation I F Stone. His work was highlighted by Project Censored 2004, 2011 and 2012. He recently discovered that he was on an FBI national security Watch List.
Born in 1949, Lindorff lives just outside Philadelphia.
Lindorff graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a BA in Chinese language. He then received an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1975. A two-time Fulbright Scholar (Shanghai, 1991-2 and Taiwan, 2004), he was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University in 1978-79.
A former bureau chief covering Los Angeles County government for the Los Angeles Daily News, and a reporter-producer for PBS station KCET in Los Angeles, Lindorff was also a founder and editor of the weekly Los Angeles Vanguard newspaper, established in 1976, where he won the Grand Prize of the Los Angeles Press Club for his reporting. Lindorff also worked at the Minneapolis Tribune (now the Star Tribune), the Santa Monica Evening Outlook and the Middletown Press in Connecticut.
Lindorff is one of two nationally syndicated journalists along with Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe, who has repeatedly criticized “most American colleges and universities” for refusing to provide official/sealed transcripts to former students “late in their payments” or “in default”, thereby ensuring those students cannot transfer to another school in the U.S. until the initial school is satisfied with its debt collection. Lindorff has called the practice “extortive”. Swidey has described it as hostage taking of transcripts and education (the majority of which has often been paid for by the former student).
He is the author of four books, the most recent being The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office, written with attorney Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights. As well as Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Lindorff has been active on journalistic issues and was a founder of the National Writers Union in 1983, serving for many years in leadership positions in that union. He was also active in the Hong Kong Journalists Assn. during his five years in Hong Kong, when he was a correspondent for Businessweek magazine.