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Tales from Stasiland: Dangerous Blogs!

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A well-known blogger on Middle Eastern affairs, Matthew Good, reports on his latest Department of Homeland Security reception on returning home at the Detroit Metro Airport following a long stay in Lebanon.

They were actually very polite and I wasn’t really bothered until they pulled out my laptop. At first I thought they probably want me to just turn it on to make sure I wasn’t hiding a bomb in it. But then I was asked to put in my password and soon one of the customs officers was going through my personal files and photos. Something that really bothered me, I felt a complete invasion of privacy.

I was questioned behind the reason I had a document saved from a Lebanese newspaper, I then explained my interest in middle east politics and that I used to write for Dose and I blog occasionally. This was followed by the question “Do you write anti-American material?” I said I didn’t, that I mostly concentrated on Middle East politics but for some reason one of the officers said that sometimes even Americans wrote anti-American material. I really wanted to say that those are probably the ones that are in jail. They then asked for the websites addresses that I blog on (So Matt, you might get a couple of extra fans) I just thought the wording was interesting, I mean asking if I criticized US politics is one thing but to ask about Anti-American material made me feel like they were insulting my intelligence. I mean even if someone was would they really admit it?

I don’t know about you, but I feel much safer knowing that customs agents interrogate U.S. citizens about the political content of their blogging. It gives a whole new meaning to Department of Homeland Security, don’t you think?

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