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January 30, 2017


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Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

The answer is simple. It's all about perception. It's really not the facts that count, but what folks think about or how you can make them feel about the facts. A criminal trial is a perfect example. Take a retail theft. Is it a relatively minor first time offense deserving prosecutorial diversion (theft school) or economic terrorism that destroys livelihoods?


Professor Redding-I hope that you filed a complaint with CBP. The absence of complaints when such incidents happen is part of what allows this kind of abuse to last. What should not be lost and it almost is in your post, is that the abusive supervisor's junior officers recognized the abusive behavior for what it was and came over to protect you. They deserve the credit for that, because they did their job and in a circumstance that likely would result in a reprimand from a belligerent supervisor.

Jeff Redding

Adam, thanks for your comment and suggestion. As it happens, I knew a lawyer who worked at the ACLU's Detroit office and I immediately got in contact with her when I got back to Saint Louis. I worked with her and another lawyer there to draft a formal letter of complaint that was submitted to the appropriate authorities a few months later. I was also taking handwritten notes during the entire encounter, recording officers' names, so that helped to make sure the letter was informative enough to instigate particularized disciplinary action. The ACLU warned me, though, that I got off relatively easy at this airport--it's notorious, apparently, for abusive practices--and we then never did hear anything back. But, yes, I agree that reporting this stuff is crucial, and I've been in contact with another lawyer at CAIR about how to handle re-entry from Pakistan in a few months.

Anon Prof

Just a comment on one aspect of your post that might go unnoticed....

I appreciate your adherence to your IRB responsibilities. As someone who has had to go through the HHS training and submission process, I know well all the duties researchers owe to their subjects. I worry that many researchers in your situation that day might have abandoned those duties quickly.

Jeff Redding

Anon Prof: Yes, this is an important aspect of this all. When I tried to describe to them the IRB, they clearly had no comprehension of it--I half suspected that they might be thinking it was one of the acronym security agencies!!!--but kept on telling me that it did not apply because we were on the border. Yet IRB guidelines apply not just domestically but extra-territorially as well.


Prof Redding, if you want to understand what it's like at the border (POE and PFI) you should talk with immigration lawyers. My colleagues and I could tell stories...

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