Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Keeping America's Skies Safe From Journalism
April 27, 2009 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Nine days ago, an Air France flight en route from Paris to Mexico City, and not due to stop in the US, was refused entry into American air space, and had to be temporarily re-routed to Martinique. The reason? A Colombian journalist (exiled in Paris) named Hernando Calvo Ospina was on board. His crime? As a left-wing book author and contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, Ospina has written critically of US policies, and of the CIA's covert role in Latin America.
posted by ornate insect (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can just see the captain and first officer shaking their heads in disbelief as they dig out the Caribbean set of navigational charts.
posted by crapmatic at 5:46 PM on April 27, 2009


I was five sentences before I realized this was not a flu epidemic story.
posted by rokusan at 5:49 PM on April 27, 2009


That's funny how Mexico ratted him out to the US.
posted by smackfu at 5:52 PM on April 27, 2009


Diverting a plane like this, particularly one not due to touch down on US soil, is not something that happens everyday. Even a stickler for no-fly protocol would likely go up the chain of command to see what to do. In one of the links it mentions Ospina is working on another book about CIA involvement in Latin America. One possibility is that this was the CIA's way of reminding Ospina that they can make life very difficult for him. He's not dangerous enough to warrant blowing a plane up, but someone might have decided he was worth frightening.
posted by ornate insect at 5:57 PM on April 27, 2009


*BOONG*

You are not free to move about the country.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Let's see... how can we make this guy stop writing critical articles about the US? Oh, I know! Let's label him a terrorist and take extreme and disproportionate measures about it!"
posted by Memo at 6:03 PM on April 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


So let's say, for the sake of argument, that you are carrying this book written by Mr Ospina. Would you be detained or at least told to discard the book in order to board the plane?
posted by Rashomon at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2009


Things sure have changed since Obama took office.
posted by signal at 6:27 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, the Obama administration remains infested with holdovers from the Bush admin who are intent on acting like dicks. I think it would be a nice gesture for Obama to root out the people who are responsible for this incident, who are almost certainly unfireably ensconced in their jobs, and give them new assignments sorting penguin poop or sorting out the air travel conditions in Somalia.
posted by localroger at 6:28 PM on April 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


root out the people who are responsible for this incident

Well, fwiw, there are a lot of incidents still trickling to the surface that I would like to be investigated, and I think we're still in the dark about the worst stuff from the Bush years.
posted by ornate insect at 6:37 PM on April 27, 2009


What sort of book should I be writing to ensure that future flights I take are frequently diverted to tropical islands?
posted by b1tr0t at 7:03 PM on April 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


If you read the story, it becomes clear that the "because he wrote a book" part of it isn't a fact, it's an accusation by his publisher. The article doesn't claim that anyone in the US government confirmed that as the reason.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:44 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's going to take a long time to get rid of the burrowers left over from the Bush administration
posted by photoslob at 7:46 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


anyone in the US government confirmed

I'm not sure if the authorities have even admitted that he's on the no fly list, but there's no reason to doubt his story--even Air France is threatening to sue for the cost of the extra fuel in being diverted. It seems clear that he's on the no fly list b/c he's a leftist journalist (and not an actual, you know, terrorist, b/c otherwise I can guarantee the authorities would be blasting that information out loud and clear), and that the plane was diverted b/c he's on the no fly list. That much seems clear.
posted by ornate insect at 7:48 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


God, this is petty. What possible rational reason could they have for diverting a whole plane (assuming it's not a public health matter)?

They can simply refuse him entry without fucking up a planeload full of people. But no, the US speaks and foreigners have to hurt! Yeah!

(Or if he's physically dangerous, they should let the crew arrest him and land at the nearest airport...)

"I think it would be a nice gesture for Obama to root out the people who are responsible for this incident, who are almost certainly unfireably ensconced in their jobs, and give them new assignments..."

So far President Obama has differed remarkably little from his predecessor on such matters involving rule of law. I think you have a very idealized view of this man who is quite intelligent but also extremely right-wing by the standards of much of the civilized world.

I think President Obama is every bit as "America, fuck yeah!" as any other President. Please note that he wasn't in office for three days before ordering his first missile strike - on a country that the US was and is not actually at war with.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:04 PM on April 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Y'all are blaming Bush for this? Take off the rose colored glasses and see that lupus_yonderboy is right in saying that Obama is not much different than Bush on these types of matters. Bush may have been an asshole and an idiot, but he is not the cause of this 100 days after he left.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:11 PM on April 27, 2009


Unfortunately, the Obama administration remains infested with holdovers from the Bush admin who are intent on acting like dicks.

Except they're not acting at all.
posted by DreamerFi at 9:43 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Bush may have been an asshole and an idiot, but he is not the cause of this 100 days after he left"

Don't kid yourself. Bush et al. have left us a legacy that will last for years.
posted by Xoebe at 9:57 PM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The article doesn't claim that anyone in the US government confirmed that as the reason.

Why would the US government keep quiet about their reasons? If they're not doing anything wrong, they shouldn't have anything to hide. Isn't that what Bush taught us?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:09 PM on April 27, 2009


Way to be retarded, US Government.

ffs, grow up already
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on April 27, 2009


I hold no brief for Obama, but if you were the incoming CEO of a huge company that had had the same guy running it for 8 years and who still retained strong shareholder support, I don't think you'd expect to change everything within 100 days.

Do I blame Bush? Absolutely: this reeks of the whole with us/without us bitchiness that characterised his tenure. Bureaucracy changes slowly.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:52 AM on April 28, 2009


I looked up no-fly diversions. Ted Kennedy was kept off planes for a couple of weeks in 2004 because of the similarity of his name to a terrorist named Al Kannadi. The TSA also held Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) in Bangor Maine in order to keep "Mr. Moonshadow" from flying over the northeast.

Good work guys.
posted by notmtwain at 6:51 AM on April 28, 2009


What's more likely?

A - The CIA is secretly monitoring the lists of people flying over the US to redirect those flights in an effort to snub a single passenger on board, or
B - We use a no fly list based on "risk scores" and Ospina's score was artificially high due to a Mariano Hernando Ospina being convicted of laundering narcotics money and a number of other Ospina hits in Treasury's "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons" (careful, big download) list, thus generating yet another false positive for a passenger who seems given to conspiracy theories (1, 2) that would rather cite this as PROOF of the conspiracy against him instead of doing some simple fact checking.
posted by jwells at 8:00 AM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


As you say, "They banned me because of my book!" is a good way to get publicity for your book, and maybe increase sales.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, America is an amazing place. All that effort from the government, just to protect the land from, err, what, "left-wing cooties"?
posted by Goofyy at 1:23 PM on April 28, 2009


« Older David Kessler Knew That Some Foods Are Hard to Res...  |  A Presidential Boeing 747 alon... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments