FC: U.S. Customs bars Canadian activist from crossing border

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 23:10:30 PST

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    [This is unverified. --Declan]
    From: "Thomas Leavitt" <thomasleavittat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: U.S. Customs denies Canada activist entry into U.S.
    Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 22:05:27 -0800
    I thought this was an interesting tidbit on how the U.S. government appears 
    to be targeting anti-globalization activists (in and outside of the U.S.) 
    in the fight against terrorism... the bit about Osama Bin Laden is 
    especially weird, but the whole scenario is astonishing - that significant 
    resources are being spent on tracking the actions of a local Canadian 
    anti-poverty group just astounds me. The fact that an agent with 
    specialized knowledge about this group was able to appear within 90 
    minutes, implies that he was posted near the border, and on call.
    Thomas Leavitt
    Message: 2
       Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 22:59:08 -0600
       From: Starlene Rankin <starleneat_private>
    Subject: Security Report from John Clarke -- OCAP
    Security Report from John Clarke
    --- In chicagodan@y..., yippie5@a... wrote: INTERROGATION AT US BORDER
      My name is John Clarke and I am an Organizer with the Ontario Coalition
    Against Poverty (OCAP). In the early afternoon of February 19th, 2002, I
    crossed the international bridge between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron,
    Michigan. I was on my way to a speaking engagement that had been set up by
    students at Michigan State University.
      When I pulled up my car at the customs booth, the officer asked where I was
    bound and I told him. He wanted to know on what basis I was asked to speak and
    whether I would be paid. I replied that I was with OCAP and that I had been
    told by the organizers of the meeting that an honourarium would be provided as
    was normal. The officer was concerned that this meant I was coming into the US
    to work. Of course, people on both sides of the border accept speaking
    invitations all the time on this basis and the issue of a work permit is never
    raised. At this point, the matter was nothing that could not have been rapidly
    cleared up if I had been on my way to address a business seminar or deliver a
    lecture on self awareness.
      As instructed by the officer, I parked my car and made my way into the
    shared by customs and US Immigration. As soon as my ID was run through the
    computer, there was a marked change in the situation. An officer asked me more
    questions about my intentions in the US, what anti globalization protests I had
    attended and whether I opposed the 'ideology of the United States'. My car was
    searched and I was taken into a room and thoroughly (though not roughly)
    frisked. I was then told that I would be denied entry to the US and that the
    FBI and State Department wanted to speak to me. Agents were on their way from
    Detroit I was told.
      After about an hour and a half, a man entered the 'controlled reception' area
    that I was being kept in and passed by me into the inner offices. He was
    carrying a big folder and a pile of files. It struck me that he carried them
    the way a highly skilled worker might carry his or her precision tools. He
    spent some time in discussion with the local officers and then I was brought
    into an interrogation room to deal with him. He introduced himself and gave me
    his card. His name was Edward J. Seitz of the State Department of the United
    States Diplomatic Security Service and his rank was Special Agent. I found him
    to be an impressive and fascinating character.
      Seitz, with the backing of another local officer, interrogated me for some
    considerable time. It was not a situation like an arrest by Canadian police
    where silence is the best option. Had I refused to talk to him, I did not doubt
    that he would order me detained and that it would be some time before the
    Canadian consular authorities came into the picture. If I was to avoid at least
    several days in detention, I determined that I had no option but to answer his
    questions. It was immediately obvious to me that I was dealing with a
    specialist in interrogation methods. He told the admiring locals at one point
    that he had been stationed in Yemen and I avoided speculating on how he had
    employed his talents there.
      Seitz's basic strategy, apart from general intelligence gathering, was to try
    and set me up to tell him something false that would place me in the situation
    of violating US law. He began with some very basic questions on my personal
    background, extremely affable in his manner and striking a pose of mild
    confusion that was designed to make me underestimate him. He then asked about
    OCAP. He told me it sounded like we were good people but he had heard something
    about an organization that a year or so before had been involved in a
    confrontation with the police at the Ontario Legislature. That wasn't us was
    it? The trap was clear and I told him that we were indeed that organization.
    His affable manner then vanished and his difficulties in focusing his thoughts
    ended. He gradually moved his chair over so we were right up against each other
    and fired questions at me. He wanted to know about the June 15, 2000 March on
    the Ontario Legislature where the Toronto police attacked a march against
    homelessness that we had organized.  He wanted to know about charges that the
    police have laid against me. He wanted to know how OCAP is structured and who
    are the members of its elected executive committee (which I refused to tell
      Seitz then took up the question of OCAP's friends and allies in the US.
    Are we
    involved in anti globalization work. Isn't this a cover for anarchism? Was I
    personally an anarchist or a socialist? (In the interests of anti capitalist
    unity, I won't say which one of these I acknowledged I was). Seitz had a huge
    file on OCAP with him that included leaflets from public speaking events I had
    been at in the US. He knew the name of the man I stayed with the last time I
    was in Chicago. He wanted to know who I spoke to in the Chicago Direct Action
    Network. He claimed that I was an advocate of violence and that my association
    with DAN showed this but (in a rare stumble) could find nothing in their
    literature that proved that they call for violence.
      This phase of the questioning went on for a long time. He covered a great
    of ground and had at his disposal voluminous information on us.  He, obviously,
    had been in contact with the Canadian police but was most interested on our US
    allies. The exception was an enormous interest in Canadian anti capitalist
    activist, Jaggi Singh. He knew that he and I had spoken at the same meetings
    and was most anxious to find out if he was also in the US. He showed me a
    picture of Jaggi and wanted to know where he was at that moment.
      Suddenly, the mask of affability went back on. I was a 'gentleman' and he
    didn't want to lock me up. I was ok but he couldn't understand how I worked
    with a 'violent man like Mr. Singh'. Then he told me he would have to ban me
    from the US but I could go to the US Consulate in Toronto and apply for a
    waiver. I could just take a seat in the waiting room while they prepared some
    paper work but I would soon be on my way. I had not been sitting out there
    long, however, before the Special Agent came out to try a new tack that I had
    heard of in the past. Essentially, his plan was to make me think he was utterly
    mad and, thereby, rattle me to the point where I lost my judgement. I assume
    the method works better if it is used after serious sleep deprivation.  He came
    over and sat next to me right there in the waiting area with other people
    around. He had a few OCAP cheques that he asserted showed I was bringing with
    me the means to live illegally in the US. I was going to jail, he asserted. I
    explained that the cheques were in my bag because I always kept a few with me
    to cover the cost of office supplies and suchlike and that I had seen no reason
    to take them out just because I was going to spend a few hours in Michigan.
      Then came the most astounding part of the whole interrogation. Out of the
    blue, Seitz demanded to know where Osama Bin Laden was hiding. I knew were he
    was, he insisted. If I grew a beard I would look like Bin Laden. I was holding
    back on telling him why I was going to the university and who I was going to
    meet there. If I didn't want to go to jail, it was time to tell him the real
    story. I replied that I had been quite open with him about my intentions and
    that sending me to jail was now up to him. He laughed, told me there were no
    problems. I could go home after all. Did I drink tea of coffee? Would I have a
    coffee with him if he came up to Toronto. I told him I would, which was the
    only lie I told that day, and he gathered up his files and left.
      Shortly after this, the local officials gave me the free ticket for the
    which is the only perk that comes along with being denied entry to the US and,
    a little over five hours after coming over, I headed back to the Canadian side.
    --- End forwarded message ---
    Thomas Leavitt -- thomasleavittat_private; ICQ #16455919
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