Hightower: America--Land of Liberty?

Here's a story you'd think could happen in China or another totalitarian regime, but not in America, not in the "sweet land of liberty." But it did. It happened just last year to James Garcia and Evaristo Vasquez -- two guys in their twenties who were born and raised in Pennsylvania. Having vacationed in Jamaica, they were returning home through Newark Airport. When they went for their luggage, they were suddenly set-upon by Federal Customs Agents, hauled into separate rooms and strip-searched. No probable cause, no charges, no "How-do-you-do." Apparently the agents thought they might be carrying drugs, but none could be found. End of story? No, it was only the beginning. The Feds decided to X-ray the pair's digestive tracts, so they were handcuffed and hauled-off to St. Francis Hospital. No lawyer, no phone call. After running four X-rays on James and finding no drugs, he was unceremoniously dumped back at the airport. He was the lucky one. His friend Vasquez was told that one of the seven X-rays they ran on him, "looked suspicious." Our government then shackled him to a bed, made him take a laxative and kept him there 'til his bowels moved. Then, the agents gave him a pair of rubber gloves and made him examine his own excrement. Still no drugs. So he too was dumped at the airport with no explanation, no apologies -- just "adios chump." Garcia and Vasquez later filed a complaint with Customs, which rejected it out-of-hand, Big surprise. Now they're suing in federal court. Meanwhile, they got a bill for that hospital room, the X-rays and -- believe it or not -- those rubber gloves. Fifty-three different Federal agencies now are empowered to arrest U.S. citizens -- and blatant abuses like these are more and more common. Isn't it time to stop them from running roughshod over us? As Garcia says: "This shouldn't be happening in America."

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