Nick George, a Pomona College student, has sued the Transportation Security Administration for handcuffing him at the Philadelphia Airport last summer because he had Arabic-language flash cards in his pocket, reporrts the Philadelphia Inquirer. TSA called Philadelphia police, who marched him through the airport to a small office where he sat for more than an hour in cuffs, awaiting FBI agents. His suit contends the agents asked him if he was an Islamist or a communist. He said no. After about 20 minutes they released him. He missed his flight.
Last year, a TSA spokeswoman said behavioral-detection officers had selected George for screening before the flash cards were discovered. Officers are trained to look for “involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered,” she said. A police official was quoted as saying it was George’s ID in Arabic that had caught their attention, and police were suspicious that the student’s hair was shorter than it was in his Pennsylvania driver’s license photo. “That,” Lt. Louis Liberati said, is “an indication sometimes that somebody may have gone through a radicalization.” Security technologist Bruce Schneier told columnist Daniel Rubin: “This is just stupid. There’s no other way to explain it. Someone saw these Arabic-language cards and just freaked. It should have taken TSA 15 seconds.”