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Banned In The USA: The Insecurity of Security

By       Message Danny Schechter     Permalink
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THE INSECURITY OF "SECURITY:" When U.S. "Intelligence" Becomes an Oxymoron or Just Moronic

By Danny Schechter

A former South African Minister, businessman and freedom fighter is arrested at NY airport. Why? He's on a Terror watch list and is still banned. And why is that?

New York, New York: On Saturday, the NSA scandal finally triggered a protest in Washington. Activists of the left, liberal and libertarian persuasion took to the streets rallying behind pictures of Edward Snowden who our government considers a traitor but many consider a hero.

A day later, on Sunday, in mid-afternoon, a prominent black South African businessman was arrested at JFK airport because he was on a list of people banned from entering the United States.

No reason was given for his being on the list, although he is a well- known former Minister in the South African government, a one time head of the country's most populated province, and, yes, a former member of the underground anti-apartheid military wing of the African National Congress, Umkonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation.)

His name: Tokyo Sexwale, so named because of his martial arts prowess as a kid.  He spent years alongside Nelson Mandela behind bars in Robben Island, South Africa's notorious political prison.

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At that time, Mandela was the founder of the ANC's guerilla army and had been sentenced to life imprisonment for his role. 

Sewale told me back in 1995, when I filmed a reunion at the prison for a documentary called Prisoners of Hope, that after he had been captured in a fire fight, he had been thrilled to be sent to the prison housing his Commander in Chief. He also told me how he and other  prisoners left their cells at night--in their imaginations--to visit places like far away New York.

Ironically, Mandela was on this very same enemies list for years after his release from prison and even his election as the country's first black President.

In that period, he even toured the United States and returned to visit The White House. Tokyo has also visited several times, most recently as the Housing minister and a corporate executive.

Perhaps these ridiculous rules have been tightened in the Obama years.

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In Mandela's case, he was removed from the list  on July 1, 2008 after President Bush signed into law a bill allowing then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice the authority to waive travel restrictions on Mandela and other members of the ANC.

That was 18 years AFTER he  left prison.

It took a bi-partisan measure in Congress to allow the President to remove the embarrassing restriction.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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