From time to time I read Michael Yon's blog.
Yon is an independent writer who has spent a great deal of time embedded with American troops in Iraq. He is ex-military, which adds credibility to his work which is written very much from a soldier's viewpoint. He comes across as honest, with no axe to grind.
One of his recent posts deals with the detaining at Orlando (Florida) by Homeland Security of a Thai friend who had flown from Bangkok to visit him in the US. (The fact that he was stateside was a little unusual – he's mostly in a trouble spot somewhere).
She was a 40 year-old bank officer, with all documents in order, but was detained for a lengthy period, and not allowed to speak to anyone. She subsequently missed connecting flights, which ended up costing her a great deal of money. She was questioned in a very hostile fashion, forced to reveal log-ins and passwords for her personal email, and generally harassed and intimidated.
Yon (unsurprisingly) became a little steamed up about this –
"I had intended to show Aew a bit of my country. But it's taking a little while for her to get over her discomfort at being in America. She was treated better in China. So was I."
The episode reminded me of the treatment of Mohamed Haneef - here
There seems to be something that happens to petty bureaucracy when operating under a policy framework driven by fear. I've seen it in a range of applications besides security including educational administration, health care and policing.
I guess the bureaucrat involved is so desperately afraid that he/she would be pilloried if a security breach occurred that logic and common sense flew out the window.
In the end, the practical result is precisely the same draconian treatment of individuals as is par for the cause in totalitarian states. Sad stuff.