He was “detained” for 422 days. I’m not sure what his crime was. The government didn’t accuse him of any. No evidence of any, either.
His name is Tony Oulai. He is a pilot from West Africa. He was detained September 14, 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks. While he was trying to fly home to Los Angeles, airport security found Oulai with flight manuals and a stun gun. Is it strange for a pilot to have flight manuals? And people do carry stun guns to protect themselves from attackers.
Perhaps, in the wake of the horrifying events of 9/11, such possessions were enough to justify at least a raised eyebrow. But there is no excuse whatever for what happened next. Mr. Oulai was detained our new euphemism for “imprisoned” not because of any suspected link to terrorism. But because his visa had expired. And because he told INS officials that he was in the country legally. But mostly let’s face it because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I haven’t read all ten billion laws on the books about immigration and flying and talking to INS officials. I’m sure Oulai’s visa had expired, and that under pressure he fibbed about it. But I’m also sure that this man did not deserve to be left to rot in one jail cell after another for 422 days. On the basis of zero evidence of any actual crime.
Want to deport him, deport him. But don’t take away his freedom. That’s not what America is all about.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.