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Illegal Samoan
November 11, 2009 12:32 AM   Subscribe

Samoan government Minister Hans Joachim "Joe" Keil is suing US immigration agents and the State Department.

In September 2008, while visiting relatives in Branson, Missouri Keil was arrested for being an illegal alien in what appeared to be a fairly well planned operation. He was charged with falsely representing himself to be a US citizen, and falsely using a US passport.

Keil, a US Air Force veteran, has held a US Passport since 1967, which had been renewed seven times.

After the his initial 8-days of imprisonment Joe detailed his experiences and bail conditions prevented Keil from returning to Samoa while the case was before the court.

There was a very strong response in Samoa, with hundreds marching on the US embassy, many more signing a petition in support of Keil. The event also caused concern for others holding dual-citizenship betwen the US and Samoa.

In December 2008 all the charges against keil were dropped and his US Citizenship reinstated. None of the agencies involved have made any statements about the initial prosecution or the lawsuit.
posted by sycophant (66 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm amazed that this is the first I've heard of this, given the large Samoan population in my community. It doesn't surprise me, given the jingoism that is so rampant nowdays.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:51 AM on November 11, 2009


From the comments at the first line:
There is a dollar figure - he pays about $2,000,000 and heads back to the South Seas and stays there. Get out and stay out. Our government was right and he is wrong. He should have his case dismissed or he should be found guilty. This is a crock of junk....It is not a tragedy....it is a blessing and he is a FOREIGNER.... Thats right FOREIGNER...
Stay classy, Kansas City.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:02 AM on November 11, 2009


But is he also an attorney?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:11 AM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


(first link, not first line, egads)
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:24 AM on November 11, 2009


Thats right FOREIGNER...

He just wants to know what love is.

He wants you to show him.
posted by Avenger at 1:30 AM on November 11, 2009 [25 favorites]


The link under "others holding dual-citizenship" goes to this Metafilter discussion.

I'm missing something here. What was the reason this took place? Why was a Samoan government official treated with such complete disrespect? Who was to suggest the passport was somehow invalid?
posted by Goofyy at 1:39 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The ICE hiring process, at least given my limited experience with that agency, seems to select for people out to protect us all from the "other", which in this bit of Missouri would seem to be pick up ignorant townies who consider everyone who ain't their cousin a foreigner and therefore probably a terrorist. As long as this is the case, this sort of thing is going to continue to be a problem. Although I'm guessing for a plurality of Americans, especially in this bit of Missouri, it's not that big of one.

Isn't one of the advantages of a federal government that you can move people around, in part to break up the local clumps of stupid?

(also, say what you will about the occasional trolls in the blue but they're a lot higher quality than the ones hanging out in the local newspaper comment boxes...)
posted by Vetinari at 2:12 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry the "others holding dual citizenship" link should go here: here - not sure how I managed that?
posted by sycophant at 2:24 AM on November 11, 2009


I'm missing something here. What was the reason this took place? Why was a Samoan government official treated with such complete disrespect? Who was to suggest the passport was somehow invalid?

As best as I could determine from reading the various information and guessing a lot, I think perhaps at some stage someone raised questions about him to Immigration, they investigated right back to the original letter from American Samoan Gov and determined that to be fake or invalid, and then working from there decided everything subsequent was invalid... But that doesn't explain what seems like a pretty systematic sting when he could easily have been stopped at the airport any of the dozens of times he'd arrived in the US in the past.

Overall the story is pretty incredible from a couple of aspects - firstly him having been a passport-carrying citizen for so long, and second being a credentialed diplomat and member of parliament for a friendly nation... He also holds a California driver's license, FAA issued commercial airline pilot's licence and social security card - if he were an illegal alien, he'd be the most well prepared one in history.
posted by sycophant at 2:30 AM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's a weird Kafkaesque quality to him being denied access to his embassy that is not being explored in the news here I think. Dual citizenship can complicate one's access to embassies due to what nationality whichever country you happen to be in believes you to be.

If he entered the US on his US passport then he is a US citizen and therefore he has no right to contact an embassy because he's in his home country. However if the US immigration agents believed he was not a US citizen then he is a citizen of Western Samoa and should have been allowed to contact the Samoan embassy. But he didn't enter the country on his Samoan passport so the immigration agents cannot regard him as a Samoan citizen.
posted by electricinca at 2:31 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


The no embassy contact thing in the AP story doesn't actually seem right, as in his own write up shortly after his initial detainment he describes a number of contacts with the embassy, although it's possible that there was some normal processes that he was denied in relation to embassy involvement perhaps?
posted by sycophant at 2:37 AM on November 11, 2009


What do you expect? He was travelling without his GABPTC form.* As a foreign diplomat, you'd think he could doi his host country the courtesy of familiarising himself with local requirements.

* Government Approved Brown Person Traveling Credentials.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:40 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Overall the story is pretty incredible from a couple of aspects - firstly him having been a passport-carrying citizen for so long, and second being a credentialed diplomat and member of parliament for a friendly nation...

Imagine for a second if Samoa arrested a Senator- Apia would be a crater before CNN had picked up the story.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:42 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was taking... Ameto Galu with me because of too many complaints about him (fa’alogogata and bad attitude) and didn’t want any problem with him.... I told him I was taking him back to Samoa that day and he can come back on his own to get married. He smiled and said that was fine. When we got up to go down where the group was, he ducked into the men’s room. That’s when he must have called the immigration agents to tell them I was there and they surrounded the building.
Damn you, Ameto Galu!!!
posted by fleacircus at 3:11 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


So... foreign national with training as a pilot, visiting some contacts inside the US around September 11thish—might have set off some red flags. It sounds like they wanted to sit on him a bit out of paranoia, and threw up whatever bureaucracy they could to do it.

in this bit of Missouri would seem to be pick up ignorant townies who consider everyone who ain't their cousin a foreigner and therefore probably a terrorist

I don't think that accurately describes Branson, MO.
posted by fleacircus at 3:22 AM on November 11, 2009


foreign national with training as a pilot, visiting some contacts inside the US around September 11thish

This is a rather strained justification. Flying in the month of September 2008 is a red flag? Being a dual citizen is a red flag? I'm a dual citizen, it's quite normal and legal. And "training as a pilot" sounds a bit different when you realize he was in the US air force 50 years ago. They think a guy faked his identification papers in the 1960s so he could launch a terrorist attack in 2008? I don't see how any of this is a "red flag" for more than 2 minutes.
posted by creasy boy at 3:34 AM on November 11, 2009


Actually, I don't think the status of his US Passport held all the relevancy, in that he was holding a diplomatic passport from Samoa, and he was doing official Samoan business. US Immigration rules state that holders of valid US passports must use that passport when entering the United States, regardless of dual citizenship, so that's why he'd use his US Passport. But he was still here as a diplomat, and as such, they had no business arresting him on such silly grounds.

When I read this originally, I had thought he was making personal travel, as he was visiting his daughters. However, it turned out he was also conducting official business. Given that, I fail to understand why his diplomatic status was not sufficient to make the INS behave themselves, so at least the appearance of the United States as a modern, law-abiding nation state could be maintained (at least in this regard).

I'm amazed the folks at the jail treated with him with as much respect as he described.
posted by Goofyy at 4:36 AM on November 11, 2009


The ICE hiring process, at least given my limited experience with that agency, seems to select for people out to protect us all from the "other", which in this bit of Missouri would seem to be pick up ignorant townies who consider everyone who ain't their cousin a foreigner and therefore probably a terrorist. As long as this is the case, this sort of thing is going to continue to be a problem. Although I'm guessing for a plurality of Americans, especially in this bit of Missouri, it's not that big of one.

The hell? Branson gets visited by millions of people each year. In that group are quite a few people who don't count as "cousins" to the locals. The Missouri Ozarks may not be the most progressive place in the country, but as a whole they're not a bunch of xenophobic hicks.
posted by Atreides at 5:34 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


While having citizenship in the US and Western Samoa seems reasonable, being a diplomat of the latter would seem to disbar you from maintaining US citizenship.

Rich Wales has been my Internet authority on dual citizenship since forever, and his section on losing US citizenship would seem to be applicable:
On 16 April 1990, though, the State Department adopted a new set of guidelines for handling dual citizenship cases which are much more streamlined and liberal than before.

The State Department now says that it will assume that a US citizen intends to retain (not give up) his US citizenship if he:

1. is naturalized in a foreign country;
2. takes a routine oath of allegiance to a foreign country; or
3. accepts foreign government employment that is of a "non-policy-level" nature.
And also:
This presumption that someone intends to keep US citizenship does not apply to a person who:

1. takes a "policy-level" position in a foreign country;
2. is convicted of treason against the US; or
3. engages in "conduct which is so inconsistent with retention of U.S. citizenship that it compels a conclusion that [he] intended to relinquish U.S. citizenship."
posted by A-Train at 6:17 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The question is therefore whether diplomat is a 'policy-level' position or not. The guidelines are very unclear about what this means but there are some references to elected office.
posted by unSane at 6:23 AM on November 11, 2009


Also, in these cases the authorities are supposed to take into account the intent of the person in question.
posted by unSane at 6:24 AM on November 11, 2009


The official guidance is here:

http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_779.html
posted by unSane at 6:25 AM on November 11, 2009


The question is therefore whether diplomat is a 'policy-level' position or not. The guidelines are very unclear about what this means but there are some references to elected office.

The first article says he's an MP, which would seem to count...
posted by mr_roboto at 6:27 AM on November 11, 2009


The hell? Branson gets visited by millions of people each year. In that group are quite a few people who don't count as "cousins" to the locals.

Withdrawn. Apologies to the fine citizens of southern Missouri for any affront taken from the comic hyperbole (which was rather intended its ICE agents), and I truly didn't mean to knock the Ozarks; hell, I grew up fishing on Bull Shoals Lake.

But while Branson gets millions of visitors a year, I'm going to hazard a guess those who are not Americans are essentially underflow. Okay, a cursory Tripadvisor search indicates at least seven Germans have been there (six of them even seemed to like it), and from the linked article we can surmise at least one dual-Samoan's been there too, though I wouldn't blame him for not going back. But as things are run it's unavoidable that ICE in southern Missouri is going to have more experience with migrant farm labor and illegal labor trafficking than with international tourism, and that's going to color their response. I still wouldn't want to be picked up by the law there without my Southern accent.

I do mean everything nasty I implied about ICE, though. As presently constituted and run, and as the first experience most non-Americans have of the country, it makes America look way more like a bunch of incompetent xenophobic hicks than it actually is.

(and on preview, ending the derail: okay, there was some actual question as to what his citizenship status was, then, even under these guidelines, which seem much, much less silly than what State was still printing in the passports fifteen years later... Still, eight days in jail for what in the worst case is equivalent to an administrative error is quite simply unreasonable.)
posted by Vetinari at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2009


Imagine for a second if Samoa arrested a Senator- Apia would be a crater before CNN had picked up the story.

If it was Lieberman, we might be willing to look the other way.
posted by brain_drain at 7:21 AM on November 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


There are two problems:
  1. He wasn't born in the U.S. (he was born in Western Samoa, not American Samoa), so I don't understand how he claimed American citizenship in the first place. He claims to have had a letter from the governor of American Samoa indicating his citizenship, but so what? If I were born in Baja California, Mexico, then Arnold Schwarzenegger would not have the legal authority to grant me citizenship by writing a letter. I bet this is how he got flagged in the first place—someone realized that he wasn't born in the U.S., they had no evidence that his parents were U.S. citizens, and he had never been naturalized.
  2. He's the associate minister of commerce, labor and industry for Western Samoa according to the first link. If being a government minister isn't a policy-level position, then nothing is. This would indicate a potential loss of U.S. nationality. Especially having a diplomatic passport, which if used to assert immunity against U.S. laws would indicate an intention to escape the responsibilities of U.S. nationality.
I don't think that Immigration and Customs Enforcement handled this well, but I'm looking forward to hearing their response to this.
posted by grouse at 7:28 AM on November 11, 2009


In other news A Marine reservist in tampa bay Chased a reek orthodox priest 3 blocks after hitting him over the head with a tire iron and then called the police and claimed he was detaining a "terrorist". I actually saw an with an embedded video from local news station that had an interview with his lawyer. The lawyer actually said "This guy beared guy with sandals, okay, The police say he's not an Arab, but we'll see about that..." as if he had been an Arab it would somehow have been OK or something.

--

Anyway, ICE is fucked up. I read a story in the NYT or something who was locked up for years and then just released.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I only hope the court awards truly astronomical damages and heads role at the INS.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:34 AM on November 11, 2009


Sadly it seems like some Americans believe that foreigners (legal or illegal) don't deserve or merit human or civil rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [Americans] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

posted by blue_beetle at 7:51 AM on November 11, 2009


What exactly is the nature of the relationship between Mr. Keil and the dance troupe at the Dutton Family Theater? Why is this guy flying to Los Angeles via London/Brussels and then flying to Kansas City so he can drive three and a half hours to Branson when he's purportedly leaving the very next day to go to Samoa? He's traveling 8000 miles yet he has to backtrack and make a pit stop in Branson, Mo., so that he can inform two people that not only are their services no longer required, but that they'll be returning to Samoa with him, that day, like it or not. And he has extra suitcases for their crap, just in case.

So I have to ask again, what exactly is the nature of the relationship between Mr. Keil and the dance troupe at the Dutton Family Theater, why is this guy transporting human beings across borders against their will for reasons of employment and how is it possible that the ICE bungled this one?

The little news I'm reading about the case seems to favor Mr. Keil, and aside from describing him as a future Nobel laureate, everyone seems to make the point that he's a diplomat for the Samoan government. Sounds to me like he was up to something else.

When we got up to go down where the group was, he ducked into the men’s room. That’s when he must have called the immigration agents to tell them I was there and they surrounded the building.

That statement right there is incriminating in itself. Why would people be ducking you to make phone calls from the john? Why would they be calling ICE on you? Why would an arrest team consisting of three ICE agents and a State Dept. officer be waiting for you outside a theater in Branson, Mo.? Why wait until Branson when you already used your passport at one port of entry and possibly on your LAX-MCI flight? Why did the Kansas City ICE office classify you as an alien 6 months prior to your arrest? Mr. Keil, just what exactly have you and your daughter Bella been up to all this time in forgotten Branson, Missouri that has sparked the ire of the State Dept., ICE and a groom-to-be?

Everyone has great things to say about Joe and the Samoan people and their special relationship to the US, and that's all fine and good, but this Joe character comes off a little too smooth for my liking, especially when he's driving around with extra suitcases just in case he needs to repatriate you back to some shithole for being disrespectful. Why did he use the Samoan term fa’alogogata instead of of just calling it what it is? And why the fuck is he writing long-handed letters to be hand delivered half-way around the world when he could've just sent an email? Yeah, maybe he likes doing things the old fashioned, third world way with people connections and all that, but he's trying way to hard to impress the reader and make it look as though he wasn't up to anything wrong.

For some reason, all the little bells are going off in my head on this one. Man, I have so many questions for this guy.

Do these people work for you? How is it that these people arrive in Missouri from Samoa? Do you recruit them? What are the conditions of their employment? How much do you pay them? How much of their wages are being repatriated? Where do they live whne they are working in Branson and for how long are they working there? What is your relationship to the Dutton Family? Do you receive any compensation, honorarium or kickbacks from them? Do you own, manage or have any other business relationship with any other dance group in the United States? Are you employing people under the patronage of the Samoan government? Why is it unclear to your supporters that you were in fact traveling on a US passport, on personal business in the United States, as a citizen and had no recourse to any other government aside from the US?

Mr. Keil, are you trafficking in human beings to employ in the business you run through your daughter in Branson or anywhere else?
posted by jsavimbi at 7:54 AM on November 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


This whole idea of people being illegal is starting to get really, really old.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:55 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good points, jsavimbi. This is starting to remind me of last month's "TSA agents took my son" hoax.
posted by grouse at 8:06 AM on November 11, 2009


Seconding A-Train's comment. The U.S. could have dealt with this in a much less bullying way, but Kiel was working at high levels of the Samoan government. The reason that relaxed laws on dual citizenship don't apply in this case is that his position in Samoa could be considered as disloyalty or treason (though IANAL) given his dual status as a U.S. citizen. But it's AMERICAN Samoa, so WTF?

The two most chilling statements I find in his story: ICE saying his military service "doesn't count" and, above all, AN ICE EMPLOYEE getting the U.S. laws on dual citizenship wrong.
posted by laconic titan at 8:08 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


But it's AMERICAN Samoa, so WTF?

No, it's Western Samoa, which is an independent country, not American Samoa, an unincorporated unorganized territory of the United States. The fact that he claims U.S. citizenship by virtue of a letter from the governor of American Samoa when he was born in Western Samoa is one of the several odd things about this story (and for that matter, people born in American Samoa are members of the tiny population of people that have U.S. nationality but not U.S. citizenship). See my comment about Baja California earlier.
posted by grouse at 8:18 AM on November 11, 2009


The question is therefore whether diplomat is a 'policy-level' position or not...

A diplomat doesn't set policy, the carry out the policies set by the relevant official at home (in the US, this would be the Secretary of State, in many other countries, the Foreign Minister.) However, being a member of the Samoan Parliament pretty much defines policy level.

However, those regulations are for US Citizens who take some other citizenship, not others taking US Citizenship. If he acquired both at the same time (say, by birth) or the US Citizenship after the Samoan, they don't apply.

But I'm really impressed by the stupid here. Okay, either he is or is not a US Citizen.

1) Is: Then he may enter

2) Is Not: Then he's an accredited diplomat, and while he may be PNG'd, he cannot be detained until, IIRC, 72 hours after he's been PNG'd (at which point, he would no longer be an accredited diplomat.)

Also: It is (or was) the case that someone born in America Samoa was *not* a US Citizen, but was a US National. They could choose to become US Citizens, and have right of entry, work and residence, but they're not U.S. Citizens by birth, as someone born in Puerto Rico is. They do get US passports, but they're marked as Nationals, not Citizens. (On preview, what grouse said.)

Isn't immigration law fun?
posted by eriko at 8:47 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Related: Customs delayed a baby from American Samoa with heart defect from its trip to an American hospital.

The traveling nurse was unable to persuade officials to let her and the baby go while they sorted out the waiver issue with the mother. She arranged for her best friend, a nurse who works at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, to pick them up at Honolulu Airport.

After a half-hour in the warm, locked room, the baby suffered respiratory failure, Fried said.

posted by ignignokt at 9:02 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


2) Is Not: Then he's an accredited diplomat, and while he may be PNG'd, he cannot be detained until, IIRC, 72 hours after he's been PNG'd (at which point, he would no longer be an accredited diplomat.)

Merely holding a diplomatic passport is not sufficient to acquire diplomatic immunity, especially when you enter the country on the pretense of conducting personal business without using said passport. Article 10 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says that the receiving state's ministry of foreign affairs must be notified of the arrival of diplomatic agents.
posted by grouse at 9:07 AM on November 11, 2009


Good points, jsavimbi. This is starting to remind me of last month's "TSA agents took my son" hoax.

Thanks. This whole case is really bugging me. Reminds me of when I used to work with this Haitian guy in Boston with alleged tonton macoute ties who could have anyone in Haiti killed but in the US he was a dishwasher. I was never comfortable with that, and the way he treated his fellow countrymen. I get the same feeling about our friend Joe Keil. If there is one thing that is bothering the shit out of me it's this:

Also told them I need to meet with them on a one-to-one basis (which I normally do) to discuss private matters.
I began with Antonio who is in charge of the boys. I told him I was taking his brother Ameto Galu with me because of too many complaints about him (fa’alogogata and bad attitude) and didn’t want any problem with him. Atonio said it was fine with him so I said good, wait for me and I’ll tell Ameto so they can go pack his bags and return with me to Samoa at noon.

He went back down to where the group was waiting and sent Ameto up to me.
First, I congratulated Ameto for his engagement to be married and wished him luck.

Then I told him I was taking him back to Samoa that day and he can come back on his own to get married. He smiled and said that was fine.
When we got up to go down where the group was, he ducked into the men’s room. That’s when he must have called the immigration agents to tell them I was there and they surrounded the building.


First, he disparages Ameto and then he blames him for ratting him out to the ICE. Such a nice guy, our friend Joe. Why did he make the effort to include those remarks in his first, urgent letter that needed to get back to Samoa so soon, knowing it would be published? Was it that important to the story or was he sending a message? Is what we are reading the sole contents of the letter(s)? Shit, I'm going conspiratorial now. And what did he know about his own nationality status that had him moving so quick about the country, moving people at a moments notice? Seems like he was aware that something was up because why else would he accuse someone of betraying him?

What Joe Kein did was blackball Ameto back home. And when you come from a small, third world island where the only job opportunity aside from military/rugby/nfl is dancing half-naked in front of goobers in Branson, being blackballed is akin to an economic death sentence for your family. Especially when you're blackballed by the minister who fills the job quotas in a country ruled by despots.

I'm beginning to think that the US may have had a case, but without a cooperating witness they had to drop the charges. I'd be interested to see what comes out in the deposition.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:30 AM on November 11, 2009


No, it's Western Samoa, which is an independent country, not American Samoa, an unincorporated unorganized territory of the United States. The fact that he claims U.S. citizenship by virtue of a letter from the governor of American Samoa when he was born in Western Samoa is one of the several odd things about this story (and for that matter, people born in American Samoa are members of the tiny population of people that have U.S. nationality but not U.S. citizenship). See my comment about Baja California earlier.

Based on what I've been told his mother was born in American Samoa, or possibly even the US. I don't know about enough about the specifics of that aspect to know whether that should be enough to convey US national status on him.

Everyone has great things to say about Joe and the Samoan people and their special relationship to the US, and that's all fine and good, but this Joe character comes off a little too smooth for my liking, especially when he's driving around with extra suitcases just in case he needs to repatriate you back to some shithole for being disrespectful.

That aspect of it seemed a little weird to me too, but from my various interactions with Samoan customs and culture this didn't seem all that out of place either.
posted by sycophant at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2009


Fascinating post and even more interesting thread, but I have to admit I'm still preoccupied with the irony of reading about this incarceration of Joe, who served in US Military, on Veteran's Day.
posted by bearwife at 10:55 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm still preoccupied with the irony of reading about this incarceration of Joe, who served in US Military, on Veteran's Day.

Joe wasn't held for that long, coincidentally he was in the US Air Force back in the early 60's, and it may surprise you, ironically or not, that out of an inmate population of 3 million in the US, approximately 250,000 are veterans. More for violent crime than for drugs. The whack-a-greek on the head veterans, not the toke up and be mellow kind. And yes, they have to stay in the can on Veterans Day.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2009


They think a guy faked his identification papers in the 1960s so he could launch a terrorist attack in 2008? I don't see how any of this is a "red flag" for more than 2 minutes.

Heck, there are people who think Obama's mom faked a birth certificate in the 50's so he could run for President in 2008.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:33 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think that accurately describes Branson, MO.

When I went to high school there, I was always in awe of how we could have both an out girls VB coach, and a physics professor who once announced at the beginning of our first term in the nice new building all the tourist-tax-revenue had built, "if I'd known I could get a chair this nice thru the budget, I'd've requisitioned me a n*****".

It's a town of conflicting personalities. If you go across the lake to Hollister, you hear a lot of talk about how liberal those damn pinko's in Branson are.
posted by nomisxid at 11:44 AM on November 11, 2009


jsavimbi:

Joe Kiel's actions sound like a fairly typical way for Samoans to handle someone who was behaving badly while employed in a foreign country. I would suspect that Kiel was from Ameto's village, and that's why he was handiling the issue.

If Ameto actually did call ICE on Kiel, then it wouldn't matter what Kiel wrote to anyone, Ameto would be pretty much persona non grata on a very small island. And if he did call ICE on Kiel, then I would say that the decision to repatriate him to Samoa was justified.

Since Kiel was writing that letter back to Samoa. no one with any wits should be surprised or put out that he used a Samoan word in it "instead of of just calling it what it is." Unless, of course, English is the only real language...

If Kiel was "transporting human beings across borders against their will for reasons of employment," then there would have been a lot bigger stink than holding him in jail for eight days, nor would his American citizenship have been restored.

Perhaps you should have thought about your questions for a minute instead of using them to build a foaming lather of jingoistic speculation. Even without reading any of the links, the absurdity of your assumptions is obvious.

And why the fuck is he writing long-handed letters to be hand delivered half-way around the world when he could've just sent an email?

I stand corrected. Obviously, there's something illegal going on here!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:45 PM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mr. Hovak, if there's one thing that makes me smile, it's a troll.

Let me answer your thesis in the same way you've written it out:

1. It's apparent that Mr. Keil is the owner of the fire dance show, not an interested third party as you allude. He readily admits to a frequency of visits and activities that can only be described as managerial.
Samoan customs are null and void when it comes to US employment law. Depending on the nature of Mr. Keil's contract with his employees, at the very most he can fire them. Not force them to be repatriated. He does not have that right. Again, Samoan customs have no meaning in the US, you cannot treat people as chattel.
The abovementioned activities were spelled out by Mr. Keil in his letter, not frothed up by myself.

2. Your second point makes no sense other than to advocate for the punishment of a man whose sole accuser readily admits to not having the facts and is in position to inflict further retribution upon the accused due to his political and economic position. Are you interviewing for a spot in the Mugabe administration?

3. Mr. Keil himself wrote the entire letter in English, save one word, which was used to communicate a potential a negative image about an employee he had just fired. Aside from a blatant breach of confidentiality, that is also slander and employer retaliation, an activity frowned upon in the US.

4. The Kansas City ICE office had signalled as far back as March of 2008 that there was something fishy with Mr. Keil's activities in the Branson area, and they flagged his passport.
I asked in a non-roundabout way if in fact the investigation was related to Mr. Keil's odd way of treating his employees. If it was a passport-related matter, the authorities in Brussels, London and Los Angeles would've impeded his travel long before he arrived in Branson, Mo. I speculated that the reason he was not charged with anything else was because the gov't didn't have a strong case. I suspect that anyone willing to talk was silence after hearing about the treatment Ameto got in the press.

5. I read as many links that I found on the subject, not many, thus the number of QUESTIONS that I have regarding the matter. I'm not sure what you're qualifying as jingoistic, so could you please point out the actual words? Thanks.

6. Why would he entrust someone with a letter to be mailed from Branso to LA and then hand-carried across the Pacific via NZ to a newspaper editor? Do they not have email? It would seem something very odd to do if you'd just been erroneously incarcerated in a foreign country. PFC William Santiago made no phone calls after he found out he'd be leaving Gitmo for good. A deviance of that sort raises questions in my mind.

So to recap, here we have the story of an innocent associate minister from a tiny island state on his way back from a junket to the EU who detours 1500 air miles and a three and a hour car ride through Western Missouri to escort two of his poor countrymen home and is suddenly set upon by a team of incompetent immigration officials who arrest him for not having his passport in order. A passport, I remind you, that he's had in his possesion as a US national since 1967 and worked well enough to get him aboard a US-bound flight and in through a monitored port of entry. A passport that works everywhere in the world except in the parking lot outside the Dutton Family Theater in Branson, Missouri.

Where are the Cohen Brothers? I cannot make this shit up.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:53 PM on November 11, 2009


3. Mr. Keil himself wrote the entire letter in English, save one word, which was used to communicate a potential a negative image about an employee he had just fired.

That sounds jingoistic, if you want to know.

Aside from a blatant breach of confidentiality, that is also slander and employer retaliation, an activity frowned upon in the US.

So what? What does that have to do with his legal status? It may be a problem for him and his employer, but his employer is not the US government, and I'm not sure what that has to do with anything.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:29 PM on November 11, 2009


You need to look up the meaning of jingoism. Pointing out the sole use of one native-language word that has cultural connotations reserved for the native-language reader amid an entire letter written in another language, albeit English, is not jingoistic. It's pointing out the fact that Mr. Keil used local emphasis to denigrate a former employee even though he had already described the activity in English. Mr. Keil used the word out of malice and that's what troubled me.

If you're going to try and shout down my commentary by labelling it jingoistic, you should look the word up first and it's application. If you're going to use the term to describe any thought by Americans critical towards Pacific Islanders than I understand, but that just reinforces my stance towards the issue at hand.

The second part there, krinklyfig, yeah, I can't decipher that.


If you're thinking that I'm concerned about the arrest, incarceration, release and subsequent lawsuit brought about by Mr. Keil, you're wrong. I think he's happy he didn't get pinched for whatever he was doing in Branson and still has a US passport. The lawsuit is a non-starter, a smokescreen if you will.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:07 PM on November 11, 2009


You need to look up the meaning of jingoism. Pointing out the sole use of one native-language word that has cultural connotations reserved for the native-language reader amid an entire letter written in another language, albeit English, is not jingoistic. It's pointing out the fact that Mr. Keil used local emphasis to denigrate a former employee even though he had already described the activity in English. Mr. Keil used the word out of malice and that's what troubled me.

Where I live, that's the way people talk. The fact that it strikes you as suspicious is odd to me.

If you're going to try and shout down my commentary by labelling it jingoistic, you should look the word up first and it's application.

I'm not shouting down anything.

And thanks for the advice. Here's some for you. Don't talk down to people.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:37 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


3. Mr. Keil himself wrote the entire letter in English, save one word, which was used to communicate a potential a negative image about an employee he had just fired. Aside from a blatant breach of confidentiality, that is also slander and employer retaliation, an activity frowned upon in the US.

It's not at all uncommon for people to revert to a native language for things like this - where they have difficulty finding a word or words to describe the idea.
posted by sycophant at 5:14 PM on November 11, 2009


You really should look up jingoism, its origins, connotations and application. I tell you this because you erroneously accused me of it. I looked it up and confirmed it. That's why I asked that it be pointed out because I was unsure if in fact I'd been jingoistic in my approach to this case. After the brief education garnered from my search, I was able to assure myself that in fact my comments were not jingoistic even though both you and Mr. Havok have, again, erroneously sprinkled the conversation with the term. It's ok to be wrong with terminology, just ask Vizzini, but to use it erroneously in an effort to stiffle criticism is poor.

The true culprit in this case is sychophant for trying to frame the conversation with:

In September 2008, while visiting relatives in Branson, Missouri

We've already established that as a lie. He was an American on business in Branson to fire and repatriate two employees who had defied his authority. What I've questioned from the very beginning was why he wanted them repatriated so fast and why the KC office of the ICE was investigating him at least six months prior to his arrest.

What Mr. Keil has done is throw up a very bad smokescreen to distract the reader from the reason why he was being investigated in the first place. Anything else I've speculated as a question and I welcome comments from Mr. Keil, his daughter Bella, the Dutton family or anyone else related to the case.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:19 PM on November 11, 2009


Pointing out the sole use of one native-language word that has cultural connotations reserved for the native-language reader amid an entire letter written in another language, albeit English, is not jingoistic.

Oooh, oooh, I know! Jingoism is when you refer to a non-English word as if if it wasn't real:
Why did he use the Samoan term fa’alogogata instead of of just calling it what it is?
However, I don't know what it is when you refer to a resolved legal situation as if it was ongoing. Disingenuous, perhaps? Mr. Kiel's troubles with his passport have been resolved. He's recognized as a dual citizen. He's filing suit because of the way he was treated while under arrest. If he was some sort of human trafficker, as you insinuate, I doubt that he would be exposing himself to the legal system again.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:25 PM on November 11, 2009


It's not at all uncommon for people to revert to a native language for things like this - where they have difficulty finding a word or words to describe the idea.

But he already used the word. My point was that he was using the Samoan term for Ameto's behavior for emphasis. There no reason to do that other than to send a message to everyone back in Samoa about what he thought about Ameto. We call that employer retaliation in the US and not only is it illegal, which Mr. Keil should've known as a US national employing people in the US, it is also unneccesary and unbecoming. Cruel, if you will. That is why I'm calling into question the character or Mr. Keil and discounting the truthiness of his statements. As I said before, I eagerly await his deposition. By all means, sir, bring the lawsuit forward.

I'm not excusing ICE's incompetence, nor that of the US gov't as a whole. History already has them booked as imbeciles, and I aim not to refute that.

So again, can anyone please describe to me the relationship betwix Joe Keil and the fire dancers over at the Dutton Family Theater?
posted by jsavimbi at 5:50 PM on November 11, 2009


There no reason to do that other than to send a message to everyone back in Samoa about what he thought about Ameto.

In a letter sent to Samoa? I call shenanigans!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:03 PM on November 11, 2009


As best as I could determine from reading the various information and guessing a lot, I think perhaps at some stage someone raised questions about him to Immigration

Oh, really? You guessed a lot before posting this, sychophant? I have to tell you, none of you seem to know much about the case you so profoundly defend, other than the announcement of a lawsuit by an individual detained by ICE for eight days. One would think after the "TSA agents took my son" hoax, a poster would be a little more careful before they went tinfoil on the gummint. A poor showing indeed.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:38 PM on November 11, 2009


The true culprit in this case is sychophant for trying to frame the conversation with:

In September 2008, while visiting relatives in Branson, Missouri

We've already established that as a lie. He was an American on business in Branson to fire and repatriate two employees who had defied his authority. What I've questioned from the very beginning was why he wanted them repatriated so fast and why the KC office of the ICE was investigating him at least six months prior to his arrest.


I framed the discussion with the information as I understood it. I'm still not clear that he does own or manage the dance group, I've re-read his letter and don't see that. He clearly had some involvement with group.

Samoans (and many other pacific people) maintain very strong family loyalties and connections, he may very well have been acting as a representative for their families in his actions, or as an elder for their village. I simply don't know, but I am certainly not convinced that your speculation about his actions or ICE's actions are the most plausible.

If it was some sort of employment or people-smuggling case as you suggested, then why were there no charges of that nature? Why would they instead choose to pursue charges that seemed much more tenuious?

Oh, really? You guessed a lot before posting this, sychophant? I have to tell you, none of you seem to know much about the case you so profoundly defend, other than the announcement of a lawsuit by an individual detained by ICE for eight days. One would think after the "TSA agents took my son" hoax, a poster would be a little more careful before they went tinfoil on the gummint. A poor showing indeed.

Not many people seem to know a whole lot about the case really, there was a lot of reporting in Samoa, but little anywhere else. I don't really think this has a whole lot of parallels with the TSA case.

It was simply a story I learned about recently and started to read about, I thought it was interesting and decided to post it here.
posted by sycophant at 10:36 PM on November 11, 2009


From one of the linked articles (emphasis mine):

Jack Barnhart said it was illegal and I told him that dual citizenship was permitted in Samoan legislation. He said it wasn’t allowed in the U.S. because it meant swearing allegiance to a foreign country.

That, alone, should've raised some red flags. Dual citizenship is, indeed, allowed in the U.S., and there are a number of ways in which dual citizenship is obtained. I'm sure Arnold Schwarzenegger, who holds both Austrian and U.S. citizenship, or Orly Taitz, who holds both Israel and U.S. citizenship, would've been surprised as hell to learn that we don't allow dual citizenship.

The sheer amount of "Keystone Kops" management in this case is astounding. Why this even went to trial is beyond me.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:42 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was simply a story I learned about recently and started to read about, I thought it was interesting and decided to post it here.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and thank you for posting it. It was a very interesting read, at least for me.

On the other hand, you did frame the conversation by painting Mr. Keil as the altruistic elder of a Samoan village stopping off to visit with his constituents on the way home. Mr. Keil himself tries to do that. But a brief read of his letter along with a timeline reconstruction of his movements paints a very different picture, and that is where I began to raise the questions regarding Mr. Keil's activities in relation to said constituents. Labor-related activities in regard to his actions as they pertained under the jurisdiction of the United States, where Branson, Missouri just happens to be.

If you were unable to read into that due to the fact that you lack knowledge regarding US law, than all I can say is that maybe you should spend a couple of minutes to familiarize yourself with the circumstances of the case instead of applying your localized knowledge and guesswork, or at least offer a rebuttal in your post, unless of course you're already siding with one party against another.

In this case, it appears that you did side with Mr. Keil without any factual knowledge of the case other than your experiences with Samoan culture and at the end all we have is some hand-waving in regards to a lawsuit filed by a US national against the treatment he received from his government. Fyi: announcing that you're suing the US gov't isn't news, it's a given.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:30 AM on November 12, 2009


I don't really think this has a whole lot of parallels with the TSA case.

Sure, it does. Someone makes a number of claims against a reviled government agency. Because this agency is so disliked (perhaps with good reason), people creduluously believe these claims even though they are made wholly on the basis of the assertions of one individual who would by no means be objective. Personally, I am not ready to automatically accept everything Joe Kiel says about what happened as fact.

I look forward to this lawsuit, because it means there is a hope of finding out what really happened. I hope someone will provide updates.
posted by grouse at 10:35 AM on November 12, 2009


You really should look up jingoism, its origins, connotations and application. I tell you this because you erroneously accused me of it. I looked it up and confirmed it.

Good for you! You get a gold star for the day!

I hope if you come to discover your own assumptions were erroneous, you'll see it as a learning experience. Maybe you'll get a nice gold star for it.

It's ok to be wrong with terminology, just ask Vizzini, but to use it erroneously in an effort to stiffle criticism is poor.

Yes, but clearly it's more important to figure out whether I may have personally insulted you, even if I was actually referring to your statement and not you as a person.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:33 AM on November 12, 2009


Personally, I am not ready to automatically accept everything Joe Kiel says about what happened as fact.

I'm not about to accept everything jsavimbi says about it, either, since he has no connection to the case whatsoever and is just conjecturing based on a few scant statements in the press.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:35 AM on November 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


By the way, jsavimbi, if saying that a statement you made is jingoistic is somehow stifling criticism in your eyes, maybe we shouldn't be having this conversation. I mean, you feel free to correct me, but you can't accept the fact that your assumptions may have biases behind them. That's not a personal insult.

To paraphrase your wise lesson up the thread, it's OK to be wrong, but if you're pulling out the victim card in order to deflect criticism, you're being intellectually dishonest.

We call that employer retaliation in the US and not only is it illegal, which Mr. Keil should've known as a US national employing people in the US, it is also unneccesary and unbecoming. Cruel, if you will.

You make a hell of a lot of assumptions here. Do you have any evidence besides this? Has there been a related labor case which established that Mr. Keil was retaliating against his employee? Or are you convicting him now?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:45 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


krinklyfig, did you ask Vizzini? Probably not. I'm going and try and connect the dots between your last three statements.

jsavimbi...is just conjecturing based on a few scant statements in the press.


That's what we're all doing. Matter of fact, that's what drives internet forums: ignorant speculation. I cannot refute that.

You make a hell of a lot of assumptions here. Do you have any evidence besides this? Has there been a related labor case which established that Mr. Keil was retaliating against his employee? Or are you convicting him now?

Assumptions I've made (2):

1. Joe Keil owns the fire dance company, manages it with his daughter and has the habit of hiring, firing and repatriating his employees at will in a manner contrary to the spirit of US labor law as I understand it. I read that in Joe Keil's letter to the newspaper.

2. Joe Keil publicly announced the firing of Ameto Gula in the newspaper, slandered him and subsequently went on to accuse Mr. Gula of betraying his location to the ICE. That is also in Joe Keil's letter to the newspaper.

My sympathy with Joe ended right there when he took a timeout from recounting his horrible ordeal at the hands of an evil government agency to harm the reputation of a young man formerly in his employ.

Everything I've assumed about the case has been from what I've read in Joe Keil's letter to the Samoa Observer. If I'm wrong in my assumptions, then I'm not up to the reading and comprehension levels required to understand the Samoa Observer. If this is the case, I will cease to read anything on the internet and focus my skills on purely manual pursuits.

Bringing a civil case against Mr. Keil has nothing to do with me. I simply pointed out that what he did would be grounds to bring a case against him and that his behavior towards Mr. Gula was wrong.

Everything else I've said about the case has been made in the form of a question due to the reality gap I perceive to exist between the facts as Joe tells them and I understand them. As I've stated before, I cannot wait to read what comes out in the deposition.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:05 PM on November 12, 2009


My sympathy with Joe ended right there when he took a timeout from recounting his horrible ordeal at the hands of an evil government agency to harm the reputation of a young man formerly in his employ.

I guess I don't understand why I should be concerned about your sympathy is all.

I learned a lot more about you by reading your reactions than I did about the case or the people involved, but I wasn't really trying.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:03 PM on November 12, 2009


krinklyfig, did you ask Vizzini? Probably not.

If you care to explain this, fine. Otherwise, I have no clue what you're talking about.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:07 PM on November 12, 2009


If you care to explain this, fine. Otherwise, I have no clue what you're talking about.

It seems that you didn't learn much by reading what I had to say. Plus, you don't even get the Vizzini reference. Sheesh.

Listen, I sent someone related to the case a message. If they get back to me, hopefully it'll clear up the discussion. If they don't get back to me, I'll just wait to read about the case someday. Until then...
posted by jsavimbi at 3:00 PM on November 12, 2009


This is a rather strained justification. Flying in the month of September 2008 is a red flag? Being a dual citizen is a red flag? I'm a dual citizen, it's quite normal and legal. And "training as a pilot" sounds a bit different when you realize he was in the US air force 50 years ago. They think a guy faked his identification papers in the 1960s so he could launch a terrorist attack in 2008? I don't see how any of this is a "red flag" for more than 2 minutes.

I didn't say the red flags were reasonable. But they sounded like things that might get spat out by some silly data mining program and get approved by someone (a) hyper paranoid and (b) not afraid of throwing around some bureaucratic obstacles. Inconvenience an official from a country just a little bigger than Springfield, MO vs. slim chance of terrorist attack. It's your ass on the line; you make the call.

Anyway it would be interesting to know what the fuck was really going on.

I disagree with you on one thing, though: "trained as a pilot" sounds exactly the same regardless of who trained him. I mean, the Marines taught Oswald to fire a gun, etc.
posted by fleacircus at 10:51 PM on November 13, 2009


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