Police State Tactics

James Ridgeway of the Village Voice writes that police state tactics are transforming our nation. The most recent victims: the foreign press.

Every day, Ashcroft and Bush work the country toward something like martial law, though the administration has suffered setbacks, like last week's rulings by two federal appellate courts in Padilla v. Rumsfeld and Gherebi v. Bush. Both of those decisions, for now at least, hamper the government's ability to simply lock up suspects indefinitely. But the government has other targets and other ways of dealing with them. The most recent crackdown seems to be on the foreign press—the source of much of the substantial critique of its policies.

U.S. immigration authorities are detaining foreign correspondents on grounds they have not obtained special visas permitting them to operate here, reports the Associated Press. True, there is a law stipulating a special visa for journalists, but few have ever heard of it and it is seldom enforced. No more. No one ever told the visiting journalists it had suddenly been revived. As a result, immigration officials aren't allowing reporters from abroad to come in under ordinary 90-day tourist visa waivers.

Here's but one of Ridgeway's examples:

Peter Krobath, chief editor for the Austrian movie magazine Skip, was seized and held overnight in a cold room with 45 others who landed without visas. Is he an Osama follower? A disguised fedayeen from Saddam's clan? No. He is guilty of flying to the U.S. to interview Ben Affleck.

The Government's response:

An embassy official in Vienna insisted that the government was only acting in accordance with the letter of the law.

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