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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shame on Us

posted by on May 14 at 13:50 PM

First there was this story in the NYT this morning…

He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit—meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon—eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

And now there’s this in the Washington Post…

Some Detainees Are Drugged For Deportation

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged….

Such episodes are among more than 250 cases The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003—the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security’s new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.

Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.

Mr. Cooper’s girlfriend—who is now living in Rome—was quoted by the NYT as saying, “Who on earth would ever seek asylum from Italy?” Dunno. But if a Democrat doesn’t get elected president in the fall, and if that Democrat doesn’t start undoing the damage done to this country by the GOP, I’m going to go somewhere and claim asylum from the US.

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Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Posted by Bonzo | May 14, 2008 1:54 PM

I've got plans in the works for a swift move to Canada if McCain takes the presidency.

Posted by DanFan | May 14, 2008 1:59 PM

I always wondered where the KGB guys that ran the Soviet mental institution system ended up, looks like they went to work for Homeland Security.

Posted by Westside forever | May 14, 2008 2:02 PM

I remember being pretty horrified after an international flight seeing just the regular procedures non-US citizens have to go through in immigration. They're photographed, and they take prints of all their fingers AND both thumbs! When I entered Sweden they glanced at my passport and didn't even bother to ask me if I was there for business or pleasure. It's disgraceful,embarrassing, and a hint of...well..things like this news story.

Posted by Beguine | May 14, 2008 2:03 PM

Mr. SALERNO'S girlfriend, dan, not mr. cooper's. fix, pliss.

Posted by scary tyler moore | May 14, 2008 2:05 PM

Give it a rest Dan. This type of shit went on long before Bush and will continue long after he's gone - no matter who's in the White House. Trying to shade this as a partisan issue only shows how little you know about how the system really works.

Posted by Try researching the history of Portland's INS office | May 14, 2008 2:06 PM

#3: The same kind of people are dormant in every society, waiting for an opportunity to take their sadism public- or more accurately, everyone is sadistic when given the chance. The US is getting to the point where Soviet-style intrusions on individual lives are not only acceptable in extreme cases, but are increasingly normal. America needs to grow up and put 9/11 behind it.

Posted by Jay | May 14, 2008 2:08 PM

Dan, do you know how incredibly lame and done it is to say you're going to leave the US if this & this doesn't happen?

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 14, 2008 2:12 PM

Fanatical "Christian" Bush agenda and your tax dollars at work. America voted for this shit. Have they learned anything from it?

Posted by Vince | May 14, 2008 2:12 PM

Finland seems like a good choice to me, they're a lot higher up on the human rights and quality of life scale than the US these days.

Posted by unwelcomed | May 14, 2008 2:13 PM

As "the Dick" would say:


Experience you can taste: Hillary/Monica 08

"I just don't have any room in my brain or in my heart for anybody but Hillary."
Senior WV Campaign Philogynist

Posted by Auric | May 14, 2008 2:14 PM

Who the hell are these new idiots on Slog? Go away, Auric.

unwelcomed, have you taken a look at the Finnish language? Yikes.

Posted by Fnarf | May 14, 2008 2:17 PM

@6 It seems to be worse now than it has been in a long time.
I have worked with an International Organization for 24 years and I recently have had two friends detained for no good reason and locked up for a few days. They were treated like criminals.
I have no doubt there are horror stories since the beginning of our history but it recently seems to have taken a bad turn.

Dan,I'm glad you brought this up. It's a subject that has caused me a lot of stress kind of like Lou Dobbs and Billy O...
It all makes my blood pressure go too high.

Posted by mj | May 14, 2008 2:25 PM


I have looked at the Finnish language, and it is indeed difficult, but it IS very nice. In the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, there is the only all-Finnish television show, Suomi Kuutsu (Finland Calling) hosted by the inimitable Karl Pelonpaa.

That being said...

This is a sad day for the great USA when a VISITOR FROM A FRIENDLY NATION is detained thusly. Blowback is a bitch, and I hope that none of us feel the effects of this crappy treatment of world neighbors. Hateful behavior by ICE. Hateful.

Posted by P to the J | May 14, 2008 2:34 PM

I visited Germany last year. Entering that country was a piece of cake. And then going to Austria on the train... well, I couldn't even tell when we crossed the border. They don't seem to give a damn once you're in the EU. When I came back, even as a US citizen, returning to the US was dehumanizing and uncomfortable. The contrast nearly brought me to tears right there in the Customs area of the Philly airport. (Then again, it might have been the exhaustion after the flight delays and general crappy service from US Air.)

Posted by litlnemo | May 14, 2008 2:35 PM

This is the face America puts to the world. Is it any wonder people don't think much of our country?

Posted by Greg | May 14, 2008 2:40 PM

You should read the travel sites, where endless streams of respectable furriners unload their "I'm never going back THERE again" stories.

But this is what you get when you turn your entire security operation over to an army of mouthbreathing nimrods who couldn't graduate from high school, who are working with little training or guidance from above except vague intimations that Gestapo techniques are acceptable.

This is how fascism works: it's not highly trained evil masterminds like in the movies; it's fat kids who like to pull the wings off flies flunking out of school and going to work for DHS. We are a nation controlled by a million Dwight Schrutes.

Posted by Fnarf | May 14, 2008 2:57 PM

Italy will soon be poorer, per capita, than Greece. Who WOULDN'T claim asylum from Italy?

Posted by joykiller | May 14, 2008 3:01 PM

maybe they detained him because he had dark hair, dark eyes and a generally swarthy complexion. i mean, how many blonde, blue eyed tourists get detained? huh? is there any data on this? fnarf?

Posted by scary tyler moore | May 14, 2008 3:18 PM

Actually, didn't Italy just elect a borderline fascist government? I thought I heard that somewhere.

Or maybe I'm thinking of Burien....

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | May 14, 2008 3:19 PM

No shit. You've hit this turd on the head. I travel regularly and the thuggery at the US border, inflicted on visitors and citizens alike, is disgusting and demeaning. That is, EXACTLY how these fuckers acted when they were schoolyard bullies. Boorish, stupid, offensive. Just don't DARE exert your dignity- you will pay dearly. Just kowtow and yes-sir these assholes. No wonder foreign visits to the US are down so sharply, despite our banana-republic currency. I just wish a clean sweep in DC would fix this, but you know it won't matter. The best we can hope for is that it won't keep getting worse, as it has been over the past several years.

NINE-ELEVEN!! NINE-ELEVEN!! Yep, the terrorists have won, and then some.

Posted by What is with fnarf? | May 14, 2008 3:26 PM

Italy just elected a right-wing prime minister, who is also spectacularly corrupt -- he treats the Italian government as if it was just another part of his media empire. He's a nasty piece of work, but he's not a Fascist; he's what Tim Parks calls an "anti-anti-Fascist", in Italy's complex political spectrum. Rome, on the other hand, has just elected a mayor who probably can be called Fascist, or ex-Fascist. Weird country.

And Catalina, really, you shouldn't be saying those mean things about Burien. It's quite nice in its way. Up and coming. You should go and have an Australian Meat Pie sometime.

Posted by Fnarf | May 14, 2008 4:47 PM

@19 I'm thinking the woman from Iceland that was detained might've been nordic looking, so it probably doesn't apply in all cases but in this case I suspect you are right about their fucked up reasoning.

@17 Damn, Fnarf you scare me because you are so right.

Posted by PopTart | May 14, 2008 4:47 PM

Oh Fnarf, I was just trying to think of the opposite of Italy and, for no particular reason, Burien came to mind.

Maybe I should have said Kent....

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | May 14, 2008 4:58 PM

Banana republic indeed. People aren't visiting, and the rest of the world doesn't need you and is growing tired of listening to you. This is an empire in decline, and, if you don't get out soon, you may be stuck living here or fleeing like a Cuban refugee.

It's really a public service that Dan is posting these. What intelligent person isn't dismayed at what's going on here? A few people are running the country into the ground for the profit of themselves and their friends, and what bunker or remote tropical island do they plan on living out their lives in/on?

Posted by left coast | May 14, 2008 5:15 PM

I can't really hope that Republicans win, but, you're certainly welcome in Canada, Dan. Either way.

Posted by moonknee | May 14, 2008 6:33 PM

moonknee, what kind of idiot do you have to be to wish the repugnicans win? i mean, almost eight years of this retarded, heavy-handed incompetent shit now, and you want 4 MORE? what the fuck are you doing on slog? this is not a repug-freindly place. go away, you twat. uhg.

Posted by ellarosa | May 14, 2008 9:54 PM

ellarosa, you should try reading that post again.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | May 14, 2008 10:21 PM

oops, sorry moonknee you said you CAN'T REALLY hope they win--my bleary-eyed bad. you are not an idiot. or a twat. never mind. i really want one of those twats to tell off, tho. bummer.

Posted by ellarosa | May 14, 2008 10:21 PM

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