Demand an End to the Detention and Harassment of Critics of U.S. Foreign Policy

Target: Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security

Goal: Stop the serial detention of U.S. foreign policy critics

Recently, a Pakistani politician and outspoken critic of U.S. drone strikes was detained for two hours by U.S. Immigration officials during an attempt to board a flight from Canada to New York for a fundraising event. The politician claims he was then interrogated on his anti-drone stance. The State Department has acknowledged the detention saying, “The issue has been resolved. Mr. Khan [the detainee] is welcome in the United States.”

This is not an isolated incident. The U.S. has detained Pakistani individuals critical of U.S. drone strikes three times during the year 2012. The policy of detaining and/or harassing critics of U.S. foreign policy is not a new tactic by the Obama Administration or by previous Administrations.

In particular, individuals who speak out against U.S. military presence in the Middle East have been consistently targeted, detained, and harassed by representatives of the U.S. government. For example, an Oscar-nominated documentarian who produced films depicting the views of anti-war Iraqi and Yemenis was detained every time she re-entered the U.S. for four years until an article was published that detailed her treatment.

In another instance, a Pakistani lawyer who represents drone victims in lawsuits and who co-founded a human rights organization was denied a Visa until the Obama Administration relented under international pressure.

The serial treatment of those who speak out against U.S. drone strikes, as well as U.S. foreign policy more broadly, is a tactic of intimidation as well as a dangerous endeavor. It is dangerous because humiliating individuals with detention and interrogation further strains our relationship with countries such as Pakistan. The policy of detaining U.S. foreign policy critics is unjust, pointless, and is diplomatically unwise. Tell the current U.S. administration to end this intimidation practice.


Dear Madame Secretary Janet Napolitano,

I am writing to ask that your administration cease its policy of detaining non-U.S. citizens who are critical of U.S. foreign policy. In particular, this policy has mostly affected individuals of Middle-Eastern background or whose criticism has been of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

For example, your administration has seen the detainment and interrogation of high-profile Pakistani individuals at least three times in the year 2012. All of these individuals have been outspoken critics of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. A recent individual subjected to this treatment was a popular Pakistani politician who has a strong chance of becoming the next president of Pakistan. This sort of policy —besides being unjust — is an unwise diplomatic strategy and will not improve the reputation of American abroad, especially in areas where it is at a low point such as in the Middle East.

The policy of detaining and interrogating foreign individuals for their political dissidence was a common practice during the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration should move on from this tactic as it does not accomplish anything in the way of making the U.S. safer or of improving our image to other countries. Please stop this pointless and unjust practice.


[Your Name Here]

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One Comment

  1. police state.

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