Arabic flashcards bump student from plane

Dennis Baron debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU
Fri Feb 12 03:10:23 UTC 2010

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Arabic flashcards bump student from plane

In August, 2009, a 22-year-old Pomona College senior was questioned,
handcuffed, and placed in a cell at the Philadelphia International
Airport police station for five hours for carrying Arabic flash cards
in his pocket as he tried to board his flight back to school in

Now the ACLU is suing the TSA, the Philadelphia police, and the FBI,
charging that their treatment of Nicholas George violated his
constitutional rights to free speech and to protection against
unreasonable search and seizure.

Although the security services won't comment on the pending lawsuit,
an anonymous source told CNN that George was singled out for a
"random" search because he exhibited "erratic" and "anomalous"
behavior. The nature of that behavior was not specified, but some of
the flash cards he carried had words like "bomb," "explosion," and
"terrorist." George was also carrying a copy of Rogue Nation, a book
critical of U.S. policy that was written by a conservative former
Reagan administration official and endorsed by such experts from
across the aisle as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Gen. Wesley Clark. And he
had studied abroad in Jordan in connection with his major in Middle
Eastern Studies (his second major is physics).

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Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

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