Posted 366 days ago
I think that Secor's reporting was fantastic here in that it shows a couple different ways at looking at Asgari's situation. For the most part, it's deeply upsetting; Asgari was thrown into a terrible system that needs reform. On the other side, he did make the mistake of working on a tourist visa, and was therefore susceptible to the F.B.I.'s "payback." Even after all of this, he has an interesting view of the system:
Asgari still viewed America with affection. He marvelled that, in every prison, he could pick up a phone and talk to journalists, and that journalists could publish what they wanted without fear of being censored. But what he appreciated most was the independence of the American judiciary.
For somebody who spent years in a system stacked up against him, he has a point in that we can read and criticize what happened. Was it wrong what he went through? Absolutely. Can we blame specific people for it? I'm not so sure. If I were an F.B.I. agent, I would have been somewhat shocked at his profile. American an Iranian relations were very bad at that point in time, and Asgari did take "part in five offenses" during the Iranian Revolution. This is not to say anything about is moral character, but that he has participated in warfare and is now illegaling working in an American company tied to the military. I understand that he should be investigated.
However, absolutely none of what he went through was warranted and is a symbol of the decline of our beaurocratic systems. Although he was absolved in court in a fair manner, he was immediately passed to the ICE which does not give foreign nationals the same rights as American citizens. This is a scary, scary organizational body in our government that we must reform and have much more transparency into. He was treated as a criminal for having done something wrong, sure, but not even remotely close to the wrongness of how he was treated.
"Whenever I think I've seen the worst treatment by ICE, they surprise me again," he told me.
We need to reform ICE, get more transparency into its workings, and ensure that anybody who goes into their custody is treated with dignity and respect.