(please see hardcopy of this article typed out below for ease of reading and view)
Canadian Dimension Magazine Article Re Northwest Airlines Profiling Attack , followed by Media/ government censorship and covert illicit persecution of family. Lesley Hughes e: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Aaron James 204 474 0654; ; Linda James : 204 889 9134
Time to pause and consider this year’s Top Ten Censored Stories ; the news that, try as it might, just can’t make the news.You'll find them at http://www.projectcensored.com/
Aaron James, a 31 year old Winnipegger of Trinidadian descent has a story to tell, if only he had the chance. On a short trip to Minnesota in 2006, he and his mother stumbled into the pit of post 911 paranoia. Their luggage was intercepted “for security reasons.” When they stated their intention to protest what they saw as racial profiling, things got worse. A junior stewardess falsely reported Aaron as an irate passenger, whereupon airport Police boarded the plane, and, in spite of his co-operation, tackled and tased him with 50,000 volts of electricity and hustled him off to jail.
When James called the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis, an official there told him coolly they didn’t get involved in US affairs, adding he could call back if he was tortured or forced to commit indecent acts. Canada’s Foreign Affairs website boasts a long list of services available to Canadians in foreign custody, none of which was offered to him.
He was told he was facing nine years in jail, held in miserable conditions for nine days, and interrogated by the FBI, who later followed and surveilled him in Winnipeg. Five months later, James experienced what he calls a show trial before a jury his lawyer described as “the spooks.” The jury pool was heavily contaminated by people connected to police, the military and security agencies, including the CIA. The judge was a former Marine. Charges of assaulting the airport police and resisting arrest went nowhere; a last minute charge of minor assault, which James passionately disputes, was upheld.
The whole incident has cost the James more than $40,000 in fees to American lawyers. It’s left Aaron James On the American No Fly List, which is widely shared with travel authorities worldwide, and a criminal record in the US. He and his mother have suffered from severe stress and deteriorating health.
How did Canadian media cover this story? Even before the James got home, Winnipeg media had bought into it as told in a swift press release from Minneapolis police. His picture appeared in local newspapers under the banner “Air Rager Tased.” The stories contradicted each other, claiming that Aaron faced fines ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. Some reported that he’d been denied bail and was still in US custody. No reporter spoke to the James before printing the story. Reports of his alleged crimes also appeared on CBS.com, WCCO and KARE 11 TV, the Chicago Tribune and various internet sites designed to attract and amuse crime junkies.
Did access to the World Wide Web rescue him from the pro-security bias of mainstream media? Aaron James built a detailed website and emailed his story to any possible source of support; internet media, human rights groups on both sides of the border and politicians at every level of government, including every Canadian senator. (One of them replied sympathetically but could not assist.) “Going internet” with the story proved to be a two edged sword. It allowed the James family a slender sense of hope, but Aaron would later be threatened with his web published material in court. If he insisted on testifying at his trial, he was told his e-mails and web material, considered anti-US government and inflammatory, would be introduced as evidence against him.
The James family continue their struggle to clear Aaron’s name and draw attention to the vulnerability of Canadian travelers to American airports. Nineteen months after it happened, their story has yet to emerge from the teeming world of alternative media, and “the news that doesn’t make the news.”
Canadian Dimension broke the James story last spring on our weekly current affairs show, Alert: Radio for people who want to change the world.We'll follow it until its resolved.
You can hear our interview with Aaron James at rabble.ca. Click on the Alert Radio icon; or go to wwwcanadiandimension.com and click on Alert:Radio for people who want to change the world.