Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Blogger Jeremy Wright was denied entry to the United States and was strip searched by the US Department of Homeland Security. One of the reasons for the suspicion was that the officer didn't believe blogging was a profession. "Blogging ain’t a job," said the officer. (Maybe I should modify my last post about amateurs and blogging...) Jeremy has posted a followup entry which is sober and balanced. He quotes from memory part of the exchange with the DHS officer.

Him: Why would you visit someone in the states you’d never met (I mentioned I was planning to visit several people whilst down there)
Me: Well, I have met most of them, but I’ve talked to them dozens or hundreds of times online.
Him: Do you have any of their phone numbers?
Me: No, but I talk
Him: You can’t talk to someone without a phone number. Stop lying to me.
Me: No, really, I can talk from my computer to theirs
Him: Don’t be a smartass. If you don’t have their phone number, and you’ve never met them, how can you have ever talked to them.
Me: … (at this point I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t help, nor does answering questions he doesn’t want to hear the answer to)
Him: So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re going to visit someone who you’ve never met, never talked to and who knows nothing about you? And I’m supposed to believe this?
Good point about sarcasm. On my blog I talk tough about DHS and immigration, but in front of a DHS officer, I'm very polite and try to say "yes sir" a lot... Immigration is definitely not a good play to practice your sarcasm.

via NevOn via Politech.


Comes around to the question about bloggers as journalists? If blogging's the person's profession will they need a Visa to get in to the US?




I was unfailingly polite to every policeman that ever pulled me over, yet I always got a ticket. Finally, after being pulled over twice in a week for no apparent reason, I snapped and started getting vociferous. It worked. I have never gotten a ticket since. These people can be intimidated.

However, there have been times when it was obvious to me that I needed to repress my impulses and just whimper like a puppy. You have to play it by ear. Sometimes you just have to cater to the reptile-brained knuckle draggers you are unfortunate enough to cross paths with and tell them something they can understand.

Grouchy : ;-)

Adam : Good point. I have a friend who is a nuclear scientist turned journalist and he is detained for 1 hour every time he comes to the US in addition to being required to have a Visa for travel to the US. (He's French.)

You mean noocooleer? ;)

Seriously though, on my way back from Tokyo, I got pulled over by Canadian Immigration because of a similar conversation with the agent in the booth, who flagged my customs declaration card, and then while waiting for my luggage I got randomly picked by a roving agent (who upon seeing the coded marking on my card, immediately got nosy...).

"So you're telling me you're a web designer who spent a month in Tokyo, not working, hanging out with people you met via their weblogs?"

Oddly though, they only checked my luggage for drugs and then released me. ;)

Could this have been avoided if he just said "I'm a writer, I meet people on the internet, I have their email addresses"? Not everybody likes the word "blog" anyways.

The DHS officer concerns me the most because he doesn't seem competent. I don't want somebody like that protecting our borders. The best way to deal with DHS agents is to be general and direct. I hate going through U.S. Customs/Immigration because I'm worried that I'll say the wrong thing and get in a lengthy conversation with an agent that winds up getting me in trouble.

It is all well and good to lose all sense of humour and scarcasm when going across borders. I also lose my beard and beanie cap with the bat ears that I like to wear (not joking). BUT I also never say "I'm going to give a lecture." or "I'm doing some consulting work." I'm always just on holidays to meet friends, if there are people I know. And if not, I'm just going to visit. Why? Cause I've learned from second hand experience that it works. And it is always true, so I don't set off any alarms. KISS... Keep I Simple (cause they're) Stupid.

Note, that I have taught both remedial highschool AND technology to senior tenured university faculty where this technique has found another home.

Joi, if I blogged I was the queen of England, would you post that as truth?

Folks, you all need to stop believing bloggers so much.

Shelley. Probably not, because I would think that it was unlikely you are the Queen of England. If I find out that this post is untrue, I will update it or blog another post about the fact. I'm trying to gain insight solicit feedback. I'm trying to start a conversation on what I believe is an important issue. I think that the US response to terrorism by making the US unfriendly to foreign travelers is an important issue. I suppose I could add a line saying that I don't know whether this is true or not or make my title a bit more questioning. Is that what you mean?

I mean that you linking to the story gives it credibility. Scoble linking to you adds to the credibility. This story is not only not been fact checked, it stretches common sense and credibility.

You have had some uncomfortable moments with the DHS and are now looking for any and all story that demonizes them. Then when I come and say, "Joi, have you considered whether this has any truth or not" you blithly say, "Well, doesn't matter if it's true or not -- I'm just trying to start a conversation."

So if some poor Canadian border guard or guards comes under investigation for a completely fabricated story because a lot of noise was generated from you and Scoble and others linking to a story by a weblogger just because they are a weblogger, you don't see that this might be harmful?

Everyone who works at the borders of this country is not evil. Most are just people trying to do a job.

Shelley: In my experience, it doesn't stretch common sense. I see stuff like this all the time. I realize that most DHS officers are good people and are trying to do the right thing, but they wield a great deal of power and are also the interface for America to people entering the US. I think that they must adhere to a very high standard. I think that if it leads to an investigation and it's not true, then the person in question would be cleared. It probably won't lead to an investigation unless the blogger steps up and files a complaint. It doesn't appear from his post that he will. But if he did, I think an investigation should be done and if the claim is false, the officer would be cleared.

We're not talking about garbage men. We're talking about people who have the power to separate families, throw people in jail and send people off to be tortured in foreign countries with the power of a multi-million dollar PR machine in their favor. Should we give the individual a voice too? How would we establish this as truth without talking about it?

"See stuff like this all the time"

What stuff? I've heard a couple of things from you, and I tend to find you credible so I tend to believe them. But were you strip searched had fingers poked into your eyes had a body cavity search just because you said you were a blogger?

Come on Joi.

But if you want a fact then there's this: There is no visa required between Canadians and the US. It's what's known as an 'open border'. Yes, even after 911. I knew this already because of working with Canadians, but a 2 second Google search would confirm this:

Now, unless Jeremy has a fiance in the states, or is a treaty negotiator, he doesn't need a visa.

Oh, and poor Jeremy. There was the time he got death threats because he wrote in support of Dave Winer.

Then he sold his weblog, but no one knows to who.

Oh, then there's the fact that he was fired for weblogging, but no one knows who he was working for and his resume has exactly two jobs on it, and there's nothing about being fired from either. I doubt that a health services center in a what looks like a college would fire a person for weblogging.

Then there's the 'one of the most popular webloggers' claim on a site in that long Technorati tail.

Then there's...

Enough -- he's played his game long enough. When he was no harm, I didn't mind. But now he's playing with other lives.

Shelley: Thanks for the background info on Jeremy. I didn't know that. Do you think we should question Jeremy's credibility? If so, this provides more context and I should probably dig into it and investigate.

This story appears to be true and more and more evidence came out after the initial support from the blogs.

As for Canada. They can still ask questions even if you don't need a visa. I bought a car from a Canadian when I was in college. I wired him the money. He looked like a punk. He drove from Windsor to deliver the car to me. He came with some of my friends. They searched him, found the briefcase with a wire transfer receipt. Then they slashed the handles of his briefcase, took everyone in separate rooms to for interrogation. They thought he was a drug dealer or something. Then they told him he couldn't enter the US.

I'm quite sure this is true since I was on the other side of the border waiting for him.

Also, Japan has a visa waiver. You don't need a visa to enter the US. But you have to choose, "business or tourism". I was standing behind a man and his family who were going to the US on tourism. He stupidly mentioned when questioned for some time that he would also be meetings some of his business associates. The officer called the airline, made him buy a ticket back to Japan on the spot and sent the father back after admitting the family into the country and told him that he would be marked for having lied to an immigration officer and for being denied entry.

Even with no visa required or a visa waiver, DHS asks you a bunch of questions.

Both of the above experiences were before 9/11.

Joi, Jeremy said that he had to wait for a 2 week Visa. This is fact checking. Not anecdotal stories, but facts.

In his original stories on this topic (Bloglines has them in cache), he said he was meeting with McGraw-Hill. I had already sent an email to a person associated with the company verifying this, when he retracted and said it wasn't McGraw Hill.

Oh yes the story you pointed to has been verified, and sounds very credible. And there are others, that I know of and I believe.

The DHS has made entereing this country more difficult than it needs to be, because our borders are porous and if the 'bad guys' want to get here, they will regardless. And this whole fingerprinting thing is obscene, as is our overreaction to people of specific nationality.

But there are a whole lot of border people who worked the borders before DHS came along. Yes, they have stronger rules now -- but they're still human, and many would be and probably are appalled at these stories.

It makes it more difficult to focus on the truth and begin reform when the truth is clouded by BS like this particular story. So if you want to start a conversation, or help lead reform you need to more selective on what you pass along -- not less.

gack! Sorry for the typos. I'd correct if I could.

How does one take a look at the "bloglines cache" of the story in question ?

Never mind. Figured it out. Wow.

Darryl, you can temporarily subscribe to the person and then check to see the previous week (or month's) posting. I'm not sure you even need to subscribe, but it's easier.

Really Not sure What were the reasons on this specific issues. I rememeber Dr.Cory of Boing Boing Fame also had some issues of this nature. I blogged that Here.

It maybe have been random targetting by the DHS. However,if Jermery was going to work full time there. he would have needed a visa/permit which allows a Canadian to work in the USA . this falls under the privy of Nafta rulings. I remember a very senior person who worked out the Privy Council still needed this formal permit to actually travel freely and work inside the US. Canadians by default are now being targetted. The policy disparity is very much prevailent. Check out the for DHS daily operational briefings. Its been greased /tarballed pretty tightly here. Take a look at the number of defaulted COC w/Canada and with POB, other then Canada being denied entry. If Jeremey's POB was other then Canada, then this caused a flag to raise, but this does not mean that the DHS officer had a right to be impolite to the Candidate.

I maybe meeting Jermey next mid week.

/pd. Can you try to get to the bottom of this? Shelley is starting to get convincing ;-) and I'd like to be proven correct or wrong so I know whether I should back peddle and update.

Thanks for pushing on the Shelley.

"Requirements for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. However, a Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and children would need a visa to enable the spouse and children to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder.

A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry with all of the following:

* Request for admission under TN status to Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, US immigration officer;
* Employment Letter - Evidence of professional employment. See Employment Letter below;
* Proof of professional qualifications, such as transcripts of grades, licenses, certificates, degrees, and/or records of previous employment;
* Proof of ability to meet applicable license requirements;
* Proof of Canadian citizenship- Canadian citizens may present a passport, as visas are not required, or they may provide secondary evidence, such as a birth certificate. However, Canadian citizens traveling to the United States from outside the Western Hemisphere are required to present a valid passport at the port-of-entry;
* Fee of U.S. $50"


Now, read what Jeremy first wrote,before he pulled the post:

Well, guess I’m not going to New York. Most readers here don’t know I was, but that was the “big news” that I couldn’t announce until it was confirmed. It got confirmed. Huge blog consulting contract with one of the top media companies in the world.

It would have been awesome.

So, after 40 hours of driving, nearly 1000$ in extra expenses getting to the airport, hotels, rental cars, etc… I’m no longer going. Not only no longer going, but I was strip and cavity searched. My eyes were tested for “illegal aids", I was nearly thrown in jail and all of my assets were nearly siezed. This was after being interrogated for 2 hours, of course. They can’t just do these things up front so that you can relax through the interrogation.

No, they interrogate you THEN they stripsearch you. Then more interrogation. Then cavity search. Then more interrogation. Then eyes. Then more interrogation. Then the threats start. Then more interrogation. Then a different “cop” (border patrol, homeland security, whatever). Then more interrogation. And then both cops. Then another stripsearch. Then an interrogation while I’m standing naked. Then more interrogation.

It was a long few hours.

The end result is that I can’t go to the US again. If I do, I will be thrown in jail for 2 years and all of my assets will be siezed by the US government, and I’ll be fined 500,000$.

Why did I have to endure this, you ask? Because, they didn’t believe me that you could make a living off of “blogs” (since they didn’t know what they were). They also didn’t believe I knew people in New York, but didn’t have their phone number (they didn’t want to see Skype). They also didn’t believe that “Chaw Hill” (this is McGraw-Hill to them, they didn’t believe they were a Fortune 500 company either, so it’s not just me that they didn’t believe) would write a book on blogs, nor that they would hire me, a Canadian, to write it for them.

They felt it was a conspiracy and that I was obviously up to something. The words “terrorist” and “fugitive” were used several times, though I’m not sure if they were talking about me or “Chaw Hill"."

Then he later wrote:

"I’ve had some time to process what happened. I’m still completely shocked. But there were some key words in what he said (besides “terrorist", yes… if they really thought I was one, I’m sure I’d be in detainment right now).

He said things like “bring bank statements, pictures of family, letters of reference, contracts with clients, proof of residence, proof of home ownership, RRSP statements"… Basically bring everything that is me. It seemed like for about half the time, their concern was more that I was going to flee to the US and live there illegally. Like when he said that I had “no ties to Canada” and that “if I could live anywhere, what’s to stop me from never going back".

Apparently the look of shock on my face, and “uh, my family?” didn’t help in that situation.

Ultimately “the burden of proof is on you” to prove things that are effectively unprovable. I’m going to call the US Embassy today to figure out what this all means. Right now I simply don’t know. Maybe it isn’t as bad as he made it sound? Maybe he was yanking my chain because he had a bad blogging experience as a child?

I’m not sure. I’m still shocked. Still pissed. Still broke. Still confused. Still stranded with nowhere immediate to stay (I’m sure that’ll work itself out though) and still without an Internet connection (equally sure I can nail that one in the next couple of hours)."

And still later:

"Okay, a few more hours and getting closer. I have documentation from (nearly typed their name, heh) media company. They’ve pulled in an immigration lawyer to get this all sorted. Hopefully this isn’t a big deal. Hopefully I’m there by weekend."

And then later:

"Okay, just came back from the US Consulate. Before I say what happened, I want to say a few other things related to this.

I’m shocked by the blogosphere’s, and the press’s, response. It blows my mind. This is once again a case of me simply having no idea that people would care. I was blogging because I had to tell somebody, and telling “Ensight” was as easy as telling anyone else.

Second, the company in question is not McGraw-Hill. It’s a major media company, well respected, etc. McGraw-Hill owns several major media companies, but is really a publisher.

I’m still not 100% sure what happened at Customs at the airport. Really, totally unsure. However at the very least I was denied entry and flagged for followup any other time I try to enter. As far as I can tell, I am not “banned” from entering. I’m not sure why the border guard said I was, threatened to throw me and jail and sieze my assets, etc.

I don’t know if any of what I experienced is even allowed by DHS (Department of Homeland Security). And I don’t even hold anything against DHS, Americans, etc. At the end of the day it’s this guy’s job to protect the border from, as he said, “ingrates and other seedy characters".

There are quotes that stick out in my mind, like the “blogging ain’t a job” qoute that everyone’s bandying about. And there were threats. And there was lots of talk and many humiliating moments. There were also jaw-dropping ones like:

Him: Why would you visit someone in the states you’d never met (I mentioned I was planning to visit several people whilst down there)
Me: Well, I have met most of them, but I’ve talked to them dozens or hundreds of times online.
Him: Do you have any of their phone numbers?
Me: No, but I talk
Him: You can’t talk to someone without a phone number. Stop lying to me.
Me: No, really, I can talk from my computer to theirs
Him: Don’t be a smartass. If you don’t have their phone number, and you’ve never met them, how can you have ever talked to them.
Me: … (at this point I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t help, nor does answering questions he doesn’t want to hear the answer to)
Him: So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re going to visit someone who you’ve never met, never talked to and who knows nothing about you? And I’m supposed to believe this?
Me: … (This was two hours in, and minutes before I demanded to be released)

Anyways, I’m not going to New York. The company basically needed someone there this week, and the only way to get a Visa is through a fairly standard 2 week process. Which I understand, and I’m not mad about, it just means I’m not going."

Have fun at your meeting, /pd.

Now I see that both Kottke and BoingBoing have blogged this, in addition to Blog Herald -- all taking it purely at face value without once checking the veracity of this tale, or following the thread back and noting the inconsistencies.

This is what will replace Big Media?

Shelley: Note "Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional" - this implies "usually" but not its not a right.

1) nafta Professional listing is under this link. Nowwhere is a 'blogger' mentioned and what are the requirements of certifcation for this profession. e.g "Computer Systems Analyst - Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post Secondary Certificate and three years’ experience".

2) Secondly even if you have a visa. Does not mean that DHS and BCP will permit you entry.
Entering the U.S. - Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States, such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and request permission to enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration inspector will permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine your length of stay in the U.S., on any particular visit. Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated by the immigration official. Form I-94, which documents your authorized stay in the U.S., is very important to keep in your passport. Additionally, as a Mexican citizen seeking entry as a NAFTA professional, you must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Immigration Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. To find out more detailed information about admissions and entry in the U.S., select Admissions to go to the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Internet site. "

3) TN Visa - falls under the preview of the Dept of State. Most people think that a TN visa is INS. That is wrong. Dept of State. State Dept Backgrounder is Here
A citizen of a foreign country, wishing to enter the U.S., generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.

To see the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that applies to temporary worker categories, see §101(a)(15). For the law applying to NAFTA categories, See 214(e).

Shelley: Thanks for the detail cache posting. This is the first time that I am reading the pulled posting. I missed the chatter as I was on the road.

Joi: As such. The protocol of engagement begins with 5 questions from BCP/ICE/TSA/BCP professional.
1) Whats your purpose of visit
2) How long are you staying
3) Where are you staying
4) Who are you visiting
5) Where are you coming from

This states the engagement protocal ,which fork based on response. I firmly belive that
1) The Candidate lacked sufficent Collateral (original paperwork) to sustain Entry status.
2) The Officer's Line of Questioning seems to begin in line protocol of engagement.
3) The Incident occurance seems to be'aggrevated' by both parties. could have just been a personality conflict which become escualted and the book was thrown at the Candidate.
4) Every Visa Denial at a service Center (in this Case Port 497/YYZ/Toronoto), will has to be reported to DHS Operations Center Senior Watch Officer. This becomes tagged as part of the Dail monring Briefs.
5) The Officer in charge would have surely had enough case history and substainal intergration documentation which will sustain filing of a case. Else that officer can be will question for 'line of duty' occurence. The Candidate would have acutally gone thru about 3/4 different officers which were trying to prove a point that the candidate did not have sufficent previledges to enter in the US (not as a High Risk entity, rather for a invalid Paperwork)
6) This incident now gets escualted into the 'no fly list' and/or 'selectee list'. Either Way Candidate will be deemed to be ATS status. (i. Automatic Targetting Systems) will kick in .. across the Risk Platform. i.e even if traveling from Paris to NYC and then on Toronto. The Person can be denied boarding at Paris by TSA/DHS officers.

What I am trying to rationlize here, is this incident, brings out 2 aspects for blogsphere.

1) Under the current Mandates of DHS/INs/INA there is no profession as a "blogger". This is not considered as a profession by the Us Gov or for that matter of fact by any other Government. (I'll stand corrected if someone can point me to a proffesional blogger and its listing is binding by governement).

2) It would be good information for blogsphere to have in terms of denial Status from DHS. For most folks it is "Your visa application is refused. You are not qualified under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act." . This is statorty instrument which gets triggered when a visa/entry is denied. However, No body has really asked under what ruling did the DHS/BCP officer deny entry. This would be interesting, as this will foster on ongoing diagloue between main stream blogsphere and the governements the world over.

This is an excellent opporunity that the facts be culled to the extreme, because this effects a whole new business paradigm. In so much, its so powerfull - as we all know with the case of bloggers across from Nepal/Malaysisa/Iran etc.

I really feel sorry for Jeremy. But I sincerly belive that this once just one big 'foul up'. All he needed was a orignal letter of employment and a TN visa endorsed on his Passport. Then this issue will not be part of blogshere. Yet, at the same time - I dont' condone the 3rd degree methods that were enforced. I firmly belive that is an overstepped authroity. They could have just refused entry and turned your around. Simple denial. Something has transpared in between them, which conflicts normal protocal engagment of both parties. This is not a choose a side issue, rather for me, its more of what can be done to be better educated as we blog. Scobles says "blog Smartly" to play safe- But this is an issues which transcends beyound the sphere of Work. This delves deep into one's personal level of sanity and freedom of thoughts and choices.

The choice is be a professional blogger SHOULD NOT and CAN NOT be deemed to be a risk to any government.

I rest my case.

Yawn @ Shelley.

It's not like my email address and phone number aren't freely available.

I'll happily tackle all of your "charges" against my credibility. Which were less fact-checked than any other blog post on this subject.

Death threat: It happened. You never believed it. Get over it. I had.

Sold weblog: Didn't know I had to disclose who it was sold to. And I'm not going to just because you have a chip. If it makes you happy, I'm about to buy it back and the previous owner will be mentioned in a followup post once everything's settled.

Fired for blogging: Actually, the employer was mentioned several times. Quoted in the news. I just didnt' want to mention them because it didn't matter. But, since you so obviously care about fact checking, I worked at the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg. I was a Server Administrator in the Communications & Informations Services Department, underneath Rick Peters, working closely with Dale Wiebe and Graham Moore (you can call HSC to speak to any of these people if you want to "fact check"). The department is no longer called C&IS though, it's now "E-Health Services" and now comes under the WRHA: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. It's still located at HSC though, so you should be able to reach Rick or Dale, or even just call the helpdesk and I'm sure they can confirm it: 204 787 2222.

"In what looks like a college": More fact checking? I never thought I'd have to establish my credibility to someone who I'd never met. Odd feeling. It's a hospital. 10,000 employees. The U of M (University of Manitoba) also has a campus onsite, for its medical schools. Medical, dental and psychiatry to name only a few.

"Wouldn't fire someone for blogging": Exactly what kind of company would? I'm not aware of any prerequisites for firing anyone for anything. Do public sector companies in your neck of the woods not have assholes who work in them?

Popular blogger: Just because we don't play in the same circles doesn't mean very much at all. I believe my little bit of marketing pins me as one of the most popular "business and tech" bloggers. Feel free to debate that, but I'll stand by it all the way to the bank. Traffic, technorati rank, pubsub rank (before it was broken) all back that up, within the "business and tech" spheres.

Playing with other lives?

When you just had some kind of chip I didn't mind. I could handle the 2-3 "wow, isn't Jeremy a jerk" comments here and there. It didn't bother me.

I'm not exactly sure what incosistencies you feel are in this story.

Right above you someone posted all the entries I'd pulled. Nowhere in there did I say the company I was working for was McGraw-Hill. I said I was writing a book on blogs for McGraw-Hill. Which I am. Feel free to call them up. Margie McAneny is my editor. Or call my agent Neil at Studio B (, undoubtedly one of the most respected agents in the business.

Feel free.

Because, you see, this is fact checking. You're just casting doubts without knowing anymore than anyone. What most people are blogging is from the CBS Marketwatch pieces. Which were fact checked. Ditto the blog sale story. Fact checked by Washington Post, though I asked them not to release the company name. Or the firing story. Fact checked by the National Post, with the name of the company printed.

I have nothing to hide Shelley. No idea why you'd go to such efforts to try and smear me. Maybe I pissed you off at some point. But maybe next time you should try what the big media did do: fact checking.

Or email me: Or Skype me: jeremy_wright. Or MSN me: Or call me (cellphone almost out of time though): 519 215 0157.

Or, hell, talk to me at a conference. I'll be at Gnomedex. I'll be speaking at the BCAMA event in May. I'll be at whenever the next Bloggercon is.

It's not like I'm hard to find. If you can't find me, you can talk to anyone who knows me. Scoble, Chris Pirillo, Neville Hobson, Stowe Boyd, Suw Charman, Greg Rheinaker (sp?), Boris Mann, Roland Tanglao...

Gah, I'm rambling. Next time you accuse someone of long term lying or putting people's lives in danger, maybe you should forward the comment to them as well.

No no Jeremy you are not rambling. Your strongly positioned in a manner and mode which no other blogger has gone thru ( as a professionl blogger!!)

You are raising the bar for blogsphere. Way to go dude.. at least the Canucks are leading on this round !! :)-

Unfortunaly at the same time you are the receiving end of this incident. But the more you communicate, the better yourself and blogshere as a whole.

What happens, if Main stream bloggers like Jay or Jeff or Glen and the like want to enter Canada and state their professions as "Blogger" will they get denied entry and/or tagged as high risk travellers ??

Will this cause a Diplomat incident ??

I am not pissed at you Jeremy. But I had noted the inconsistencies of your story across the weblog entries related to it, and the gaps and inconsistencies in these previous items I mentioned.

To be honest though, I would have blown them off except of the conversation here. And the fact that your story was accepted, completely, at face value. And this isn't like selling your weblog or your services on eBay -- this is a pretty serious accusation about your treatment at the border between Canada and the US.

You're saying you were strip searched, body cavity searched, had your eyes examined, and were forced to stand naked for hours while interrogated.

Then you said they threatened to seize your assets (aren't you a Canadian citizen?) and fine you 500,000 if you tried to enter the country again.

Later you said you were stranded where you were. Where were you? Which border crossing? Airport to New York? In New York? Reason I ask is that if you tried to cross at Toronto and you were in Toronto, isn't that where your parents live? Isn't that where you and your family were moving?

Then later, that you had to bring certain papers with you -- basically your whole life you said -- when it does sound like you just needed to meet NAFTA guidelines. Is that all it was?

Then later you said you weren't sure what happened, but you saw the American Consulate and you weren't banned.

Jeremy, this was a couple of days ago. If this was a horrific experience for you, I would assume it would be crystal clear in your mind.

The point is: if you were treated this way -- strip searched and body cavity searched, and interrogated naked for three hours and out of considerable money and left in financial hardship because of this act, stranded thousands of miles from home or a place to stay, this is very serious. And a very serious accusation.

Is this exactly what happened?

As for being fired, actually, I had asked you once who you were working for and got fired from and you had said it didn't matter, old news. This was in a post at Scoble's. But I did just check your weblog and saw your updated post on this. Yes, I fucked up on not being more accurate with this. And I will gladly take the hit in credibility against myself for this.

Because ultimately, I am making some pretty serious accusations back, and I know it.

No, I don't doubt that you're writing a book for McGraw Hill. I would assume that the confusion about this came up because you didn't name the media company you were going to work for, but did mention McGraw-Hill when you referenced this incident.

And I have no doubts that you're likable, have met lots of people, and they think you're terrific. And will probably skewer me but good for what I'm doing now. And as you say, you're speaking at Gnomedex, which just adds your credibility -- a blogger speaking at Gnomedex.

But I don't know how you can speak at Gnomedex, when you can't enter the country again. Or is it that you can, now?

Just wanted to point out that there are 27 countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program, making it easier (hopefully) for citizens of those countries to travel to the 27 countries. With countries like Mexico and Canada you don't even need a passport for tourism, but it's easier to get through customs/immigration if you do.

Most of the time it's not hard to get through customs/immigration of you have the right documents and say the right thing!

/pd didn't mean to blow off your work and writing, but I'm not that concerned about that angle.

Blogging is writing and one can say, "I'm going to ___ to do some writing for them"

And remember, NAFTA works both ways -- Canada also has restrictions on people from US entering that country to work.

I think the "denied because of weblogging" thing is blown out of proportion. I could believe Jeremy being denied for not having the appropriate paperwork before going down and then being denied entry and told to come with it.

Or if he didn't have a contract, he could apply for a visa as a NAFTA trader -- which is a consultant/contractor that doesn't have a guaranteed job.

See, though -- these are all very innocuous and agreed on between the three countries: Mexico, Canada, and the US. And basically, a none story.

But if Jeremy was strip searched, cavity searched, and interrogated naked, as well as stranded thousands of miles away from home and out considerable money just because the guards "Didn't believe he could make a living as a blogger" -- then it becomes a real 'story'.

And if this did happen to Jeremy, I will be on the phone to my congress people, and to the DHS and howling protests, because no one should be treated like this without proper cause. No one. And I will join all the other webloggers who have linked to this -- and Slashdot now, too, Jeremy? -- to see this investigate.

But I sure as heck am not going to do this, when I have doubts about what 'really' happened.

Shelley: Since you say that you would be on phone to congress, DHS and yelling protests if this was true, I assume this is a matter of importance to you. In that case, why don't go meet people, talk to, interview, or whatever else you can think of, who actually know Jeremy and see if he's the type who lies about things. Heck, even come to Canada, and meet the people he talks about to verify they're real.

I for one would vote for his character. I'm not really anybody in the IT or blogging world, but I worked for him a few years ago when he was the IT manager. I know his wife, and have met his first son. I kept in touch with him, until he moved to Winnipeg. Even then, I can verify that he really worked at the health sciences centre because I had his work email, and if he wasn't telling the truth, there's no way he would have a government email account.

For the few years I've known him, I don't see him as a type who would lie about these things.

If you want to talk to me, just email me anytime. I'm pretty sure many people would gladly verify that Jeremy's not the kind of guy who puts up lies just for the sake of stirring up trouble.

ps. if you doubt he's speaking at Gnomedex, why don't you just call them and ask if he's scheduled to speak?

I am not saying Jeremy is not a nice guy. Or that he doesn't have friends. Or that he wasn't invited to speak at Gnomedex.

What I am saying is: there are very large discrepanies in his posts related to this issue, and I've asked him, point blank, what exactly happened. I didn't even say that I wouldn't believe him--but I wanted to hear exactly what did happen.

I asked for facts, and you're giving me a character witness. That's nice that you're doing this, but that's not what I asked.

This does, though, demonstrate the vulnerability of this environment, and how we'll never a serious replacement, or even really an adjunct, of the mainstream press.

If he went to the border and said the trip was for business and he had a job, but didn't have the paperwork and was denied entry, that's not really a story. He needs to be better prepared next time.

If he went to the border and said he was going to be helping a company incorporate a blog, and this pissed off the guard--him saying he could make money from a weblog--who then ordered him to strip, searched him, did a body cavity search, and interrogated him for three hours naked, all the while threatening to throw him in jail et al that is a story. An important one.

Because of the discrepancies in the posts, and Jeremy's own saying that he wasn't really sure what happened, we don't know the story. Not really.

But we're all acting like we know the story. We've made judgments based on this--not because we have the facts, but because Jeremy is a blogger, and a nice guy.

Now, I'll say this, since I have made a challenge and should follow through: I will call you and others you might recommend, but if I'm going to truly investigate this -- truly -- then Jeremy needs to tell me the name of the media company he was going to work for, the person who he recommended replace him, the name of the guard who he talked to (or enough of a description to identify him, given the hour and location), and the exact time and location where this occurred, and provides me with a description of what happened that he'll be willing to live with.

Then I could do the job properly.

Or I could just wait until a real journalist does it properly.

"But we're all acting like we know the story. We've made judgments based on this--not because we have the facts, but because Jeremy is a blogger, and a nice guy."

Fairness compels me to add:

"Or because someone like me has been suspicious of some of Jeremy's stories in the past and made a judgment about the truth of his story."

Shelley: good reply. I take it that you are standing down on the Crediablity line of Jeremy. Secondly, its not a person bashing and finger pointing excerise.

I just want to point out that we are on Joi blog and we should also respect the purpose of his posting. Which to me is this ;
"We're not talking about garbage men. We're talking about people who have the power to separate families, throw people in jail and send people off to be tortured in foreign countries"

I have asked three questions and yet to see cohesiveness of response by the participants of this discourse. I'll repeat them.

1) Will governments respect Blogging as a profession ?
2) Under what article /section of law prohibites blogging as a profession
3) In the future, ff countries turn away main stream bloggers, will this cause diplomatic deficiciences within international political agendas ?

No, I'm not stepping down on any issue of credibility. We don't have to rely on Derrick's friendship or my credibility or Jeremy's when we have facts. That's the basis of fact checking. After all, that's what we've been demanding from the press.

But you want to start a dialog based on an assumption that Jeremy's story is 'fact'. No, I'm willing to admit that. What I am willing to admit is my bias about Jeremy's credibility.

Sigh. Joi, I need to work with your people about a post-comment editing function...

I meant to say, "Not, I'm NOT willing to admit that."

Wow.. Shelley , I posted my comments and then see yours popping up in-between.. Whewwwww..your calling this story. Good for you. As a US citizen you should be able to gather facts under the freedom of information act. I love to hear your take on this, or at the very least a commendable posting on the true facts of your finding.

Jermey did mention the data you need to jump start fact finding. I'll quote :
"Feel free to call them up. Margie McAneny is my editor. Or call my agent Neil at Studio B (, undoubtedly one of the most respected agents in the business."

Jeremy, But I'll to conceed the point. Shelley is directly asking you to furnish detailed data !..right down to the description of the officer/badge# , maybe describe the room and what not. I dont know whats between you two !!

I'll bow out now !! :)-

No, I don't dispute that he's writing a book for McGraw.

I have a feeling that this has just entered the books as another 'ugly family quarrel', to be quietly disregarded until it goes away.

Send me an email kids if something I should see pops up.

I do not have words to describe what a sad situation this is- a very fine young man is badly treated by a stupid worthless poorly educated employee of George B - I am an old bald short fat white guy - George B and Tom D from Texas are doing GREAT Damage to the US -and few to no people are saying anything - Glad I will soon be dead-
you young people are in deep ca ca-
Best Wishes to stupid Americans


not exactly true :) It has been modified a lot in the last two years.
Personal story.

1 travelling for business with my usual French passport after 9/11 entering USA coming from France. Endless questions.

2. Same situation but coming from Canada. Endless questions, sometimes 5 minutes at the border. Asking even how much I was making by hour (I don't know!)

3. During year 2004... "be careful in October 2004, we will change our policy. You will need an optical passport or a VISA. If your new passport is optical and made before october it will be fine, you can enter without problems. If you wait after October, you will need a VISA even with the new passport". Me: "So with the new passport, I'm fine.Nothing else to worry". Officer:"Yes sir"

4. In August 2004, I redo my French passport to have the new one. Time, cost, etc.

5. In October 2004, the new policy is put in place, but they added a few features. Every citizens except canadians have to fingerprint and have a face picture taken at the border. In some airports like Chicago, at the entrance and the exit even if only in Transit.

I have a beautiful new optical passport, that I have never used to enter USA, because I don't want to go in USA anymore with these strict policies. Each time, I travel far away, I choose companies which don't go through USA.

I'm working in an international organization, the last meeting was in Boston (I attended on phone). Someone was unable to come from France, too much delay for the visa (and he was only French, imagine an North-African).

I know that some organizations start to think of organizing conferences in Canada, more than USA. Easier for attendees.

Ref comment above
I had a senior moment
I have been an American since 1944
Years ago I was proud to be an American
but no longer
Best Wishes
to stupid Americans

Sorry Shelley, I'm not going to publicly disclose the company, because I'm under NDA. You can say that ruins my credibility all you want.

I still don't see any inconsistencies in my story. I see that you've read it wrong (I never said I was standing naked for several hours).

The only reason I was given for being turned away was the blogger thing. Obviously I was going in as a travelling business person which may or may not require a TN visa (I've never needed one before, but knew that someday I might).

Yes I was flying out of Toronto (this is stated in my posts). Yes we're moving temporarily to the area. Yes my family is here. But at 3am, with my family 2 hours away, and having already spent more money than I should I was "stranded" for quite a few hours - emotionally and financially.

I ended up carrying my 6 pieces of luggage 13 miles to my old work and hanging out there for the day.

You say you're asking me point blank. Something. What exactly is it? And, wouldn't this be easier to do via email, and then you can blog the results? Joi doesn't have comment notification, after all.

Also, I have nothing against you. I don't know you. I read your blog, on occasion, but I have no real reason - besides a few misunderstandings - to not like you.

In yet another case of people misreading things: I'm not speaking at Gnomedex (though I might be on a panel). Since I can't edit comments here, you can't accuse me of changing my story. Reread the comment: "I'll be at Gnomedex".

I have no problem with you investigating this. I'll happily tell you my story. You can investigate and I have no doubt that you'll end up knowing more than I do.

As far as it only being this week and it being a blur... Let me know next time you've gone through a psychological incident how much you remember, and in what order.

Correction: carried luggage 3 miles to work. Maybe Darrick can confirm the distance from Terminal 2 to TACF. 3 miles is my guess.

"No, they interrogate you THEN they stripsearch you. Then more interrogation. Then cavity search. Then more interrogation. Then eyes. Then more interrogation. Then the threats start. Then more interrogation. Then a different “cop” (border patrol, homeland security, whatever). Then more interrogation. And then both cops. Then another stripsearch. Then an interrogation while I’m standing naked. Then more interrogation.

It was a long few hours."

Here's a scenario, Jeremy.

You showed up at the airport to fly to the job but you didn't have the proper paperwork according to NAFTA professional regulations. You didn't have the formal signed offer from the company, guaranteeing the job, and when you were asked for information about the company for verification, you didn't have that either. And when you were asked, you were probably 'astonished' that the guards would even think that you were offered a consulting job in the states without once talking to someone on the phone.

When you were asked which NAFTA professional classification you would be working on, you probably proudly proclaimed "Weblogging!" This isn't on the list. I couldn't go up to Canada to work as a 'blogger', either. But writing was on the list, as was IT and development.

Then they asked you for the verification information about your residency and the position -- again, as per clearly visible, easily accessible NAFTA requirements.

All the while, what were you doing, and how were you acting? Were you challenging, nervous, uptight you didn't have any of the stuff you needed, maybe even angry? Were you still suffering the effects of your move, and confused and agitated?

So rather than a person challenged 'just because they're a blogger', is there a possibility you were challenged because you didn't have the paperwork you needed, were worried about getting the job, frustrated and pissed at the 'paperwork' and 'regulations', and reacted accordingly?

But what the world is seeing is that you were abused at the border, seemingly without cause, and primarily you said you were a weblogger.

So what's the harm in all of this? FUD.

One place people shouldn't be nervous at is crossing the border into another country. Now, there's a whole lot of Canadians reading this, who are going to be a lot more nervous.

I read in comments in one of the weblogs linking to you (I'll see if I can dig it up and if I have the energy to write up a summary post at my site, post it there) a person who said that they had crossed the border many times on business the last few years, and not only had no problems, were actually warmly welcomed. But now, the person said, after reading about your incident, he or she thought it was only a matter of time before the same could happen to them.

Discounting their own experiences, because of what you wrote.

That's the harm. This blind belief that what a weblogger writes is the absolutely truth. Never taking into account our own personal biases. Never challenging the events as they're told, because they only reflect one person's viewpoint. Never even attempting to see if there's more to the story.

No, just link and tell everyone, well, we webloggers, we're persecuted all over the world. (That's the new weblogger thing now: the persecuted citizen media.) Now a Canadian weblogger can't even enter the US without being hassled! Why? Because it's _such_ a great story. Not to mention that we just love to demonize the DHS and border guards.

If I'm 'mad' since you want to reduce this to an emotional reaction, it's at the webloggers who linked to you, didn't once look beneath the surface of the story; not at you.

I'll take this at face value: I am sorry you lost the gig, and that you were hassled, and that you were turned away from the border. I know what it's like to be worried about money, and I don't have a family like you do.

But I don't think Canadian webloggers have to run from the borders, screaming in terror. Nor should they expect to be hassled when coming down to this country to work, if they're prepared according to NAFTA regulations.

I'm constantly amazed at bloggers who propagate stories based on one-sided accounts. Shelley is the only person I've been able to find who thought about both sides of the issue and asked relevant questions, and I have seen Jeremy's account on several blogs.

I am a Canadian citizen who has resided and worked in the United States. Canadians who wish to do so need a visa. I have used the NAFTA, or TN, visa myself, as I am a degreed engineer.

It is unlikely that Jeremy would have qualified for this visa because it requires that the requester has a degree ot other certification in the area they claim. Jeremy may have a certification for writing, but certainly not for "blogging".

There are other visas, though these are generally applied for in advance, rather than at the border.

While INS and now DHS can occasionally be difficult, I can honestly say that in hundreds if not thousands of crossings I have never seen this level of problem.

While this may have actually happened, I would certainly want to hear the other side of the story as well. After all, there are three sides to every story - yours, mine, and the truth.

Jeremy's posts also painted a changing story as well, so I couldn't discern exactly what had happened to him, though I will point out that by the time you are actually talking to DHS you are actually on American soil (technically) and you can't just turn around and leave.

Thanks Shelley for being (so far) the lone rational and inquisitive voice in this discussion.

Jeremy, I've done the border/visa thing several times, and I can provide insight if you need some. And I'm in Waterloo, not too far from Toronto currently.

Shelley, the problem with your "balanced" side of things is that it isn't balanced. I was asked what I did for work and what I'd be doing in the US. Answer: consulting. What kind of consulting? Business, tech, communications. What, specifically, will you be doing? Helping them setup blogs. What's a blog...

Through the entire first hour or so, I was in a fairly good mood. I wasn't being glib or sarcastic. I was answering questions, becuase that's what you do and I didn't think anything was wrong.

Very few of the questions had to do with my employment in the states. They didn't ask for contacts at the company. They didn't ask for the recruiter's contacts (I offered both, saying they were on my laptop - they refused). I also had cell numbers on my phone for the recruiting company who hired me, again they refused the numbers.

What did they want to know about? Why I had so many American business cards. Why I was moving from Winnipeg to a "border town". Why I'd purchased tickets the night before (they seemed to think I'd purchased them "cash", and wouldn't believe me that I'd purchased via CC) (I'd purchased the tickets the night before because that's when I was offered the gig).

It was small things that they were nitpicking on. Not the big ones.

And it's the big ones you seem to be concerned about:

- papers
- authorization
- letter of employment
- proof of residence
- visa application

The only thing they asked for out of all of these was the proof of residence, which I couldn't provide (though I could easily have lied and said I still lived in Winnipeg, which is technically true since we do still have a lease).

As far as whether I was challenged for being a blogger or for not having the papers, let me repeat what I've said several times: even if it was just about the papers, the gap between a reasonable treatment and what I received was huge.

If I'd been turned away for not having the papers I probably wouldn't even have blogged it. I only blogged the situation because of the "harassment". Part of the story was some of the quotes I remembered. Quotes everyone else is getting worked up about. I'm not worked up about the blogging angle.

And, I've said this in every interview I've done: I don't view this incident as anything to do with blogging. I don't view it as indicative of a corrosion of freedoms within the US. I don't view it as anything but sad that any person should have to go through what I went through - especially given the concerns that DHS apparently had.

It isn't me pushing some kind of agenda, looking for publicity, trying to turn this on anyone. The only reason I'm even commenting here at all is because of your (Shelley) attack on my character.

Personally I don't care whether people believe what happened last Wednesday or not. I blogged it, which means as far as I'm concerned it's done. I'm moving on. Does this mean I can go to the US? If so, what should I bring with me and what kind of delays should I expect? If I do go, which entry points should I avoid?

These are the things that I'm concerned about. Not the whole hoopla around some random blogger being told blogging wasn't a job. Because it's not like that's why I was interrogated, stripsearched, etc.

Once again, feel free to call me. It's amazing what actually communicating WITH the people you are accusing can do. You can ask questions. Things can be clarified. You can state that a particular sentence didn't convey what happened. I'll happily apologize for that.

It's the wonders of communication. And it happens much more easily via phone than via text.

So, again, before you say I'm trying to spread anything about this being a blogger thing or accusing me of FUD (yes, I'm personally trying to spread Fear Uncertainty and Doubt about US customs... Give me a break), how about you read what I've written.

Because those are the only things I'm on the record as having said, and I think you'd have a hard time finding an iota of FUD-driven motivation in there.

Good luck with your investigation. I'm dropping out of this now because the only reason I was here (character attacks) have now been retracted. Again, feel free to call or email me if you need help in this or unclear on something I've said or you find something which you feel deserves a retraction.

It's not like I had then, nor do I have now, anything to hide or promote or push.

Now see, this is where those fancy photo-enabled cell phones come in handy. For when "because I said so" doesn't cut it. Shelley brings up important points about the suspension of disbelief we operate under online. I'm thinking that's my take away.

There is a very bad smell coming from this blogger who always gets his name in the news. Every story little jeremy tells is one sided, his ebay story, his "fired for blogging" story and now this tall tail. Thousands of people get turened away from the US everyday, why does this little fellow think he is better then everyone elce?

Just saw this via, hadn't been online since last Thursday but find it curious. Especially since recently peopel ask me "What do you do" and I give them my usual answe of, "well, a little bit of everything" and then I tell them "oh yes I work for a public interest research group and blog".

What's a blog? What does that mean? Are you a journalist?

I guess if you send photos from your cellphone and later write captions about them, couldn't that qualify you as a freelance fotojornalist? If the subject is interesting enough...

Anyway - when I went to Canada in 2000, I entered the country with my passport which was stamped showing my legal residency in the US. Had lost my greencard and needed the stamp for transit.

The Canadian Border Guard was very testy and asked me:

‘Why aren’t you a US Citizen yet?’.

I drly responded:

“Well, because I want to become Canadian, eh!”

My sarcasm definitely did not work!

Wow, this is some discussion!

It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable reading your interrogatory comments, Shelley. Yet I understand why you're digging. And good for you, Jeremy, in your candid responding.

I posted commentary about Jeremy's experience on my blog but did not check any fact myself before posting. That's because I'd met Jeremy in January (in the US, as it happens) and felt wholly comfortable in basing my post only on what Jeremy had written. It's a trust thing. It's because I had met him, spent some time with him, interviewed him for a podcast. So I am fully confident to take what he said at face value. Would I do that if I hadn't met him? Probably not.

What I find interesting - no, amazing - with all this is that my post was picked up by Politech and broadcast by them to their email distribution and on their website. Boing Boing picked up on Politech's post. I've seen it referenced everywhere in the past five days or so. Joi's post (this one) mentions the link to my post. It's all played havoc with my bandwidth allowance at TypePad, by the way, because of the phenomenal inbound traffic to the post on my blog!

What was it about my post that caused Politech to pick up on that rather than Jeremy's post or anyone elses? It was a pretty concise post, with links to Jeremy's blog. Maybe it was the headline? Something else? I have no idea. What it does illustrate, re one of your points, Shelley, is the breadth and depth of connections in this linked world now - plus the sheer speed of transmission - and the consequential risk of just getting information out there which may or may not be accurate and which is then repeated and repeated until you just don't know what's right or not. With the blurring of journalism/blogging as well, how on earth will such risk be reduced? A good question.

As for some other comments here re immigration, well, what I would say is that what Jeremy experienced isn't unique to the US. I could tell you some stories from Latin America, for instance. Or some places in Eastern Europe. In my own experience of visiting the US, happily I have always had a trouble-free experience with immigration people. (My favourite entry point: Miami. As I also speak Spanish, Latin American Spanish at that, I've always found that enables me to make a good connection with the person who checks my passport and looks me in the eye. But now there are those video cameras and fingerprint machines, how long will it be before there isn't a human being to chat with, I wonder? There's already just a machine to get your 'receipt' from when you leave the US.)

Yet I know more people who have had unpleasant experiences entering the US than those who have not.

This happened in Canada, I don't think US authorities in Canada can strip search a Canadian and if they did he should report it rather then blog about it. If he had money there would not have been a problem, but there was a problem. If jeremy knows so much about blogging why can't he explane blogging to people who never read one?

I only know one person in this thread, I have no vested interest in this and no "credibilty" to maintain. I dont know this Jeremy cat, but I dont think he sounds very honest or very experienced at crossing borders. Shelly seems to make some sense here.

This here tempest in a teapot is a great example of why I find most of this "blogging" to be a great big load. A smart person said to me the other day that the word "blog" will soon go the way of "cyber" and we'll all snicker at people who use it. As others have said, if you make your living writing then you are a writer.

Shelly, thank you for reminding us all to question what we read and hear. This is an important lesson to apply to bloggers, traditional media and our governments. IF what Jeremy described happened, then he should march to the US Embassy/Consulate and file a formal complaint. In the US, without charges being filed or processing into a correctional facility it is illegal to strip or cavity search anyone, and against police procedure.

Jeremy your defense that you simply will not defend your these very serious charges is not helping your credibility.

I was once falsely arrested and maltreated by the police. It was a hugely tramatic emotional experience. It was surreal. I remember every detail and every word. Very little time lapsed between my experience and my request for assistance from public officals, friends and family to ensure that my story was known and questions answered for the treatment I received. I even phoned my state legislative representive and I secured the advice of an attorney. I was 21. If anyone stripped searched me or cavity searched me for any reason these days, my reaction and search for answers and justice would not stop with a blog post.

I took action for 3 reasons.
1. I wanted answers
2. I wanted to protect myself from future maltreatment
3. I wanted to be sure it didn't happen to someone else

If your experience is accurate, Jeremy, you have a responsibility to not let it end here. File a formal complaint identifying the rogue officers. If your writings on your experience are inaccurate, you have a responsibility to correct those facts.

As for why you walked 3 miles, it seems cab fare or a phone call to a friend or colleague with a car would have solved that problem and it's unrelated to your experience at the airport.

My instinct and Shelly's reason lead me to believe - there's more, or perhaps, less - to this story than we've read.

******sarcasm alert********

As for character references, or a correlation between affiability and voracity many people think or have thought of OJ Simpson as a likeable fellow. Ted Bundy was charming.

These statements should not be read as a comparison between murders and Jeremy, but to make the point that people we like or whose company we enjoy are sometimes capable of bad behavior.

An immigration official in any country is perfectly within his rights to ask you any question he likes and perform any enquiries or searches he wants to. He's not like a policeman, who needs a warrant, reasonable suspicion or other legal authority, and it's not as if you _have_ to enter the United States. You can say you want to go home at any time and you'll either be charged with a crime, held under terror legislation or put in detention to wait for the next plane.

So it's not a question of rights that's being raised. It's a question of what's reasonable and polite. In my experience, most US immigration officials are polite and disciplined, but I could well believe that problems sometimes arise. I'm sure it's not an easy job.

"What was it about my post that caused Politech to pick up on that rather than Jeremy's post ..."

My speculation: The *appearance* (not the fact, the appearance) of credibility via endorsement. The guy who runs Politech has a long, long, history of hyping shaky stories about evil government bureaucrats stomping on the civil-liberties of freedom-loving netizens. He's the inventor of the Al Gore / Internet story, as well as just recently the FEC-to-CRACKDOWN-ON-BLOGGGERS!!! hysteria.

Look at the form: "This sounds like an unbelievable story, but it happened to ...". That's validation in "journalistic" terms, even if at heart it's merely echoing.

Yes, those officers need a break, and a beer (but anyway, thats part of the fear culture in the USA)

The immigration official may have been fully aware of what blogging is and of modern communication techniques that are available to those without their friends' phone numbers. The official could have been giving Wright the third degree, just to see what kind of answers he got. Sounds like he was a jerk, but something about this story doesn't ring true to me.

Truth is slippery, isn't it? An account of Jeremy's experience at the Canada/US border published in the MSM might have been almost the same as the one he blogged. Newspapers and magazines have fact-checkers but we all know these filters fail sometimes or we wouldn't have Jayson Blair and other similar fiction writers posing as journalists.

I am a Canadian with a green card, living and working in the US. I began working in the US in 1995 when I went to Alaska, with a TN (NAFTA) status as a degreed professional, on the list of eligible professionals. The paperwork is relatively simple--a letter from the employer, and the little visa card that gets stapled into your passport ahead of time (if you're smart), an SSN card and a new permanent address. At the crossing into Alaska, the officer looked at all these things, and asked, aren't there any people in the US who can do your job? Because this is an important point--your employer has to be clear that the job search determined that the non-US person is the only candidate for the position.

I changed positions a while later and had to get a new visa--the TN ones are for the exact position you were hired to do. As the nature of the job was different, I was no longer eligible for a TN visa (as Immigration deemed my professional degree was not a requirement of the job) and had to apply for a H1b visa. With this new job, I was able to reside in Canada and work in the US (I worked from my home office, and travelled for business and to customers in the US). I'll spare you all the minutiae of the challenges associated with this: suffice it to say that I learned never to carry marketing material with me, never to say I was giving a presentation, and always carry copies of my paperwork from US Immigration. When I moved to the US to marry an American, my H1b visa was nullified and I had to begin the green card application process. This was prior to 9/11 and it still took more that 2 years and an immigration lawyer to get me through the process.

In that 2 years, I was in immigration limbo and had to apply for and carry the paperwork for advanced parole (love the terminology) or else the first time I left the US during this time would not have been allowed back in. The most unsettling aspect of this advanced parole period was that each US border crossing person seemed to have a different understanding of what was supposed to happen to the multiple copies of the document. No point in debating though, I just used to say, OK, thank you, I will do this for next time.

What many people do not seem to appreciate is that a border crossing is a place of limbo. The rights you have as a citizen and/or resident are suspended. At a Canadian airport, the minute I step over the threshold of the DHS area, I am not in Canada anymore, neither am I in the US.

Perhaps Jeremy's story is completely accurate, perhaps it is not. It's very hard to say there's a single experience of crossing borders, even between supposed allies like the US and Canada. By his own account, Jeremy did things--or didn't do things- that I think are important to ensure a hassle-free crossing. And for what it's worth, I still find, even post 9/11, that a land crossing is often more straightforward that an air crossing. Although there was that time that my car was impounded for a couple of hours and examined, just because....

" (at this point I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t help, nor does answering questions he doesn’t want to hear the answer to)"

Of course sarcasm doesn't help. Sarcasm is open violence via words. Being sarcastic with the immigration officer is like slapping him in the face instead of a greeting.

Keeping in mind that his job is to keep people out of the country, well let's say his job became musch easier.

Also, it is easy to explain that Jeremy *communicated* online with his acquaintances. But jeremy got trapped into the definition of "talking" which is strongly associated with telephone. Expanding a government official's use of vocabulary (or making him wrong for his "ignorance") became a major point in this communication breakdown.

- Jeremy has proven that his knowledge of communication technology is superior, that the officer is stupid, an a-hole and wrong.
- The officer has proven that Jeremy is uncooperative, an a-hole and a liar and maybe a threat (in the light of visiting many people).

-- Andre

sar·casm (sär'kăz'əm)

1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.

I agree with Shelly and I'm glad she's asking the questions to try to get to the facts. I know people who work for DHS - and those who work at Pearson airport do not have arrest authority or the right to strip search someone on Canadian soil. The Canadian authorities would have to do that should the need arise.

My husband has flown to Toronto and to Calgary for business. The first time he made the mistake of saying he was a consultant. He was taken to the back for secondary questioning and had to provide additional information regarding the contract he was working on, etc. From that experience he learned he should say that he was there for after sales support - which was true, but a different way of describing his consulting experience and because of his knowlegde of the system that was sold proves that he was necessary for the job.

Should we bloggers become invisible? I say no, we should get hurt and scream when we hurt.

As someone who has worked directly with customs and immigration, I can add some stuff here:

The open border between the US and Canada is significantly less open than it was during more civilized times. You are now required to carry a passport with you across the border, that was not true before 9/11.

Coming into the states, you are scrutinized for the purpose of your trip much more than before.

Some interesting background:

When you enter the area controlled by US Customs you lose all rights of ownership of everything in your possession. Your clothes, your car, your laptop, etc. When you leave, they are usually nice enough to give them right back.

So lose the assumption that you are someone stopping at a booth to avoid being processed. You are being processed the entire time you are there.

Now, US customs agents have the hardest job on earth. They have two mandates:

1 - Let everyone in to the great US melting pot!
2 - Keep all those weirdos out of our country!

YOU reconcile those and see how happy you are.

Add to that the fact that since 9/11 these people are all working double time to process the same nice people they were processing before, with the same tools as before ... and you get tired people who know they aren't using their time effectively.

This is not to say that some agents are mean or morons, there are mean morons everywhere. And you get more of them if you are working double time to ineffectively serve two competing mandates.

George Bush, after winning the presidency, was approached by Canadian comedian Rick Mercer posing as a Canadian reporter and told that Canadian Prime Minister Jean Poutine sent his regards. Bush looked very happy and said something to the effect that "I look forward to working with Mr. Poutine and all our other great friends in the North. I've followed Mr. Poutine's career with great admiration."

All the right words, except that Poutine is french fries covered with curds and gravy.

Our relationship with Canada and the openness of our border have gone downhill ever since.

J. LeRoy
I don't know what kind of affiliation you have with US Customs and Immigration, but I am sorry to say that you are incorrect when you say that you need to carry a passport. I grew up in a border town and travel across the border often. As an American or Canadian you need proof of your citizenship. That means a birth certificate and a photo id to verify identity. Of course a passport is nicer because you can have it stamped and it's not as fragile as a birth certificate.
I suggest everyone watch the movie "In America". Jeff mentions that he had to carry 6 bags with him for 3 miles. See the movie and I think you will see some similarities to Jeff and the Irish family in the movie, (both are down on their luck, both have no money, both are going to NY, both lie to the customs inspector) except Jeff was stopped at the border and the Irish family in the movie was admitted.

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