Muslim congressional intern removed from White House
June 29, 2001 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Muslim congressional intern removed from White House During a meeting between Muslim community leaders and the White House office of faith-based initiatives, too. Random administrative error, or religious profiling?
posted by Gilbert (19 comments total)
From the article: "[The intern's father] Sami Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, also is the brother-in-law of Mazen Najjar, who was detained for more than three years without charges on secret evidence."

What the?
posted by lia at 9:12 AM on June 29, 2001

first, the article keeps confusing the E.O.B with the white house proper. Bonier is a good man even though hes a Dem(come over to the darkside dave) If the secret service made a mistake, apologize and lets get on with it. The whining by this guy is a bit much. religious profiling? give me a break, why not say the secret service checked his coat for pamphlets and c-4.
posted by clavdivs at 9:15 AM on June 29, 2001

He wasn't removed from the White House... he was removed from the Dwight House... er... the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

And I don't know how you go into a meeting between Muslim Leaders and the Faith-Based Initiatives people, remove one person, and get blamed for religious profiling. If that were the case wouldn't they have thrown out everybody?
posted by techgnollogic at 9:17 AM on June 29, 2001

by the way the secret service is hiring in Detroit
posted by clavdivs at 9:20 AM on June 29, 2001

So, in order to participate in a Faith-Based Initiatives project, you have to be politically inert? That'll work.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:37 AM on June 29, 2001

Mountain, this is Molehill... Come in Molehill...
posted by m.polo at 9:44 AM on June 29, 2001

...just in passing: though the sins (or imaginary sins) of the father ought not be also placed on the sons, the father was at the same college as a tenured prof who gave up his position to head up one of the Middle East (Palestina) terror groups. At the same university, a prof, on the payroll of Rev Moon (moonies) came to Connecticut to head up (president) of the University of Bridgeport, bought up by Moon.
posted by Postroad at 9:48 AM on June 29, 2001

Secret Evidence is one of the most shameful, anti-constitution, anti-American items of law that is currently on the books. With secret evidence, neither the accused nor his lawyers are allowed information about why or even what, the accused is charged with.

Here's an article about the case in question (a Palestinian held for 3 years on 'secret evidence' who was eventually released) from the Chicago Tribune.

Even though he was released, you can see that he and his children are still not free, and are 'on lists.'
posted by FPN at 9:50 AM on June 29, 2001

The Post article is actually quite specific. It was a "White House briefing" with the "White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives" in the "Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building". (I actually can't remember the last time I heard Ike's name invoked in regard to it, although it probably is used by the Post on a regular basis. At least, anytime the White House wants to create a claque of interest in a "vandalism" story.) In headlinese, however, it was effectively the White House. (There's no guarantee from one administration to the next who will be in the West Wing and who will be in the EOB.)

There's a surface issue here -- discrimination against the intern -- and there's a deeper issue as well: the longstanding discrimination against Muslims in this country and the use of secret evidence to indefinitely detain suspects, who in this case was a newspaper editor in Florida for 16 years before his arrest, and in another celebrated case, several suspects who maintain that they came to America because they helped the CIA and were no longer welcome in their Arab countries. The CIA will not allow exonerating evidence to be presented in court, but the US government maintains that they are too dangerous to release.

The intern's mother (like her husband and son, an American citizen) has testified before Congress in favor of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act. The House has let the INS know of its displeasure. Yesterday the Supreme Court, in a similar case, struck down the authority of the INS to indefinitely jail deportees, who had completed their jail sentences, but whose original country would not accept deportation (or no deportation treaty was in place), whether or not they were previously American citizens -- in effect ruling that if they were stuck here by circumstance, they were entitled to basic Constitutional protections.

Again, the father of this intern is a citizen of the US, a Florida college professor who has spoken out against this ill-treatment. He is not himself accused of any terrorism. Early wire reports said he was "connected to terrorist cells" or some such nonsense.
posted by dhartung at 9:51 AM on June 29, 2001

A few points to keep in mind:
First, the Executive office building is right next to the white house and is where the vice president keeps an office, and is home to a number of other agencies whose heads are appointed by the white house. So, I think the term "white house" refers sometimes to the physical building, but in this case, to the larger idea that the white house is the figurative head of the executive branch. So, getting ejected from an executive controlled building, is, in some sense, getting ejected from the "white house."

Second, the president can influence the decisions of the CIA. The president can issue executive orders that would require the CIA to end, for example, the practice of screening certain individuals with certain ethnic backgrounds. Note, I'm not saying that the president controls the CIA - he doesn't. Instead, I'm saying the president can issue executive orders directing how certain intelligence procedures are handled. If you have westlaw or lexis access, see United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. v. Reagan 738 F.2d 1375 (D.C. Cir. 1984)) (the executive order is at the end of the opinion).

So, if you get kicked out of the an executive branch office building, because of an executive branch policy, then you can blame the executive branch.

By the way, the head of executive branch is a guy named George Bush (not the old one, the new one) who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.
posted by lawtalkinguy at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2001

Bush the Second has apologized for the incident:
posted by Postroad at 10:05 AM on June 29, 2001

"By the way, the head of executive branch is a guy named George Bush"-really, ill write that down. oh and the real president is dick cheney, he lives at the naval observatory. The EOB and white house proper are separate buildings, ok, a white house briefing held in the whitehouse, to me, has more symbolic meaning then some EOB cheapseat....good, twig fessed and lets get on with it.
posted by clavdivs at 10:22 AM on June 29, 2001

The Executive Office of the President and "the White House" are virtually synonymous. The Executive Office Building, once a Congressional office building, houses staffers of the Executive Office of the President. "The White House said today . . . " What the hell is that supposed to mean when reporters say it? It means the president's spokespersons, or someone speaking on behalf of the president, an advisor or someone. "The White House" has various shades of meaning.
posted by raysmj at 11:28 AM on June 29, 2001

Word of the Day: synecdoche.

Are there any Muslim members of Congress?


No foot in the door, no power to change things. Especially when "Muslim" is virtually synonymous with "towelhead" or "black extremist" in US popular culture.
posted by holgate at 12:19 PM on June 29, 2001

No foot in the door, no power to change things. Especially when "Muslim" is virtually synonymous with "towelhead" or "black extremist" in US popular culture

This might be due to lack of political organization or geographic dispersal so a voting bloc could not [yet] be formed. This country is about as racist and fearful as it comes, but the knee-jerk reaction should not always be that "The Man" is holding people down. Does the lack of Muslim representation involve racism? Absolutely. However, Hispanics, black-Americans, Jews, and to some extent Asians have overcome tradition barriers (mostly with alliances formed with white liberals) because they became politically savvy along with establishing large voting blacks. To automatically assume racism is the only factor is unwarranted PCism and poor history.

Before accusations should be made in any indecent evidence should be examined. I hope that the fear and ignorance to a situation (like the type that leads to racism) does rule the day.

This evidence is this situation seems to point toward it being a misunderstanding, and while I hate Bush a lot, I tip my cap to him (or his White House Staff) for apologizing.

Oh and, one can certainly have the power to move mountains without a Congressional seat.
posted by Bag Man at 6:32 PM on June 29, 2001

Oh, completely. I don't see it as anything other than a misunderstanding. But I suspect that fewer misunderstandings would be made if there were Muslim representatives, of whatever ethnic background, passing through security checkpoints on a regular basis. That's only happened over the past 10-15 years in the UK Parliament, in a country with a more significant Muslim minority, and it's been undeniably beneficial.
posted by holgate at 7:29 PM on June 29, 2001

Anyone remember this thread? Chinese-American congressman denied entrance to Department of Energy offices
posted by lia at 11:15 PM on June 29, 2001

The photo shows that the meeting did not take place in the White House, but at the nearby executive office building.

Here is a rundown on H.R. 5500, The ANDREWS, WEINER, BENTSEN bill that would set up Justice Dept. offices in Israel and the Occupied Territories to monitor Palestinian; and H.R. 2121, the bill that would repeal use of Secret Evidence.

It is very difficult to move anything without a congressional seat when even walking past a Muslim on the street can get a Congressman labeled as a "terrorist sympathizer."
posted by
tamim at 11:57 PM on June 29, 2001

> Word of the Day: synecdoche.

City of the Day: Schenectady.
posted by pracowity at 2:49 AM on June 30, 2001

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