Thursday, July 15, 2004

Strip-searched or merely frisked? George Fernandes and U.S. Customs

Was the former Defense Minister strip-searched or not?

It was widely reported in the Indian media a few days ago that he was strip-searched while passing through JFK on his way to a conference in Latin America. The story surfaced after being recounted in a new book by formder deputy US Secretary of State Strobe Talbott (it's called Engaging India).

[And yes, this is the same George Fernandes implicated in the Tehelka scandal.]

Now, via Jivha, I find that Indian Express reports Fernandes saying he wasn't strip-searched so much as frisked. People who've traveled through airports in the U.S. recently will recognize the drill: remove coat, shoes, arms in the air, etc. Perhaps Fernandes is, er, covering up his actual treatment? Or (more likely), he simply miscommunicated (or exaggerated) what happened to him in his earlier conversation with Talbott.

If so, this is no longer a scandal, and I am no longer outraged.

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