What does the US have in common with North Korea, Iran, Cuba, China and Indonesia?

I’m sorry but its not a joke and there is no punchline.

What the US has in common with these others not-so-peace loving countries? It requires all journalists from foreign countries to apply for journalist visas. Thats right, even journalists from the “coalition of the willing” and the countries that the US has a visa waiver agreement with has to apply for special visas to enter the US.

People, its not a good thing to be the only western country to apply restrictions we only see in freedom-oppressing countries. It might even make us outside of the US believe we should trust what we see and not what we hear…


The Freedom of Information Center: Journalists expelled, terrorists allowed in. Washington uses obscure visa as political weapon

Boing Boing: L.A. Press Club panel on LAX Journalist Visa controversy

Daily Times: Journalists with the wrong US visa may be let in, but only once

US Department of State: Visa Waiver Program

US Department of State: Journalist Visa

[Via Sex. Drugs Unix]

23 thoughts on “What does the US have in common with North Korea, Iran, Cuba, China and Indonesia?”

  1. And? The “I” visa has been around for years and there are currently over 1000 “I” visa holders in the U.S. They’re not complaining and they are NOT restricted in their reporting. I’m waiting for you to tell us why the “I” visa came into existence.

  2. I’m stumped too… what’s the problem with knowing who’s crossing our borders and a way to make sure (or at least try to) they leave when they’re supposed to. It’d be nice if we lived in the liberals’ fantasy world where everyone could come to the US and come and go as they please. Those times are long gone. Get a glove and get in the ballgame.

    I’d hardly say that requiring a visa is restrictive. Simple solution – go get one. I can’t figure out why this is so difficult for people to grasp.

  3. Let me see if I can clarify the issue for you:

    When people from countries participating in the visa waiver program want to go to the US, they can do so without having to apply for a visa. I could get up and go to the airport this very second, and be in the US in 7 hours and never have to ask anyones permission to be allowed to enter into the United States of America.

    The case here is that journalists are except from the agreement, at least the way the US sees it, and have to apply for special visas to enter the country.

    Tell me, why should journalists be treated any different than any other citizen from the countries participating in the Visa Waiver program?

  4. So, it isn’t that I don’t understand how the visas work – I just don’t see why it’s an issue. There is *no* God-given right to travel to other countries – period, and to think otherwise is silly. For example, I would never assume that I could just up and travel to Norway (or anywhere, for that matter) whenever I want to. The visa waiver program is a luxury/privilege we afford to foreigners, not a right. People seem to forget that. We can (and the reciprocal is true of other countries, to be sure) keep you out for no reason at all – we don’t have to let anyone in.

    Times are different, man – people flew planes into some buildings a few years ago, and whether you or I like it, the rules have changed, and sometimes they’re not seemingly “fair”.

    People can complain all they want, but the reality is that it’s our country, not anyone else’s, and if you want to come here, you follow the rules. End of story. If people want to waste time and energy complaining about US (or other nations’) visa policies, go right ahead, but from what I can see, it’s only going to get tighter, not looser, so don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

  5. Jarle, again, do the research. First of all, when you present yourself for INSPECTION to Customs and Border Protection (one of the agencies formed from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service) at our ports of entry you ARE asking for permission to enter the United States…you are questioned regarding the purpose of your visit and the amount of time you intend to stay in the U.S The ONLY people who have a right to enter the U.S. are U.S. citizens and we are simply subject to an “examination”.

    We have created visa classifications for reasons…one being to expedite and simplify an individual’s entry. Individuals from visa waiver countries who wish to attend university here must obtain F-1 visas; they must obtain J-1 visas if they wish to participate in an exchange program (like exchange students); they must obtain B-1 or B-2 visas if they wish to stay longer than the 90 days allowed under the visa waiver program; they must obtain R visas if they are participating in various religious programs; they must obtain I visas if they are employed by a foreign media entity; Norwegians and others working at EPCOT must have Q visas. The visa waiver program is STRICTLY for tourism/vacation/medical appointments, hence the WT (waiver tourist) you see on your green I-94; and business (business meetings, contract signings, etc), hence the WB (waiver business) on the I-94. The aforementioned visas are all nonimmigrant visas and they are very specific; the other category, of course, is immigrant visa. Princess Martha and Ari had to get nonimmigrant visas for their temporary stay in New York.

    Most countries have visa classifications, including Norway…ours are just delineated more and the classifications actually allow more people to enter the United States. I couldn’t just hop on a plane to Norway and just start attending university or bring in a TV news crew…I would need a Norwegian visa. If I wanted to stay in Norway longer than 90 days then I would need to get a visa…just ask Erna Solberg.

    It’s odd that you’re complaining and yet you offered links to the U.S. Department of State; obviously you haven’t bothered to read about the many classifications.

    Why is this an issue for you now? The I visa has been around for YEARS and over 10,000 per year are issued at our consulates and embassies; and the I visa requirement has always been enforced. The problem is that ALL journalists know that they need one and don’t bother to get one, and when they show up for inspection at our ports of entry..they get caught (READ: they try to lie their way out and it doesn’t always work).

    BTW, I am a federal law enforcement officer and I am an expert in immigration and customs laws.

    What would you know? You’re a radio man.

  6. Unfortunately, the article from the Freedom of Information Center that you cited above is extremely misleading. The “I” visa is not at all obscure…of course it would be to those who have never heard of it. It is WELL KNOWN around global media circles.

    Also, JE is correct. We don’t have to let anyone in…it is incumbent upon the traveler (foreigner) to prove that he is admissible to the U.S. MANY people are refused admission to the U.S. every day, including journalists who KNEW that they needed “I” visas and didn’t bother to get them.

  7. JD, just because you obviously work with immigration matters in the US dosen’t make you an expert of norwegian immigration law. It also seems like you are oblivious to the fact that the visa waiver program is founded in agreements the US has with other nations.

    If you feel like, please feel free to check out: http://www.norway.org/NR/exeres/80AE600F-D8AA-480E-BE8D-0075F08EED25,frameless.htm?NRMODE=Published

    You should also know that while you are correct that you couldn’t just come over and stay for education or work without applying for a visa, you could come over for up to 90 days. Even if you are a journalist with a TV-crew. No need to apply for any special visas. The same thing goes for any western country I am aware of – with the sole exception of the US.

  8. I am WELL aware that the US has reciprocal visa waiver agreements…I travel extensively and have lived in ten countries so I am quite familiar.

    What exactly is your issue regarding the “I” visa? I am curious to know why you suddenly have a bug up your butt regarding a visa that has been around for years. So, we require a visa for foreign media representatives and other countries don’t…and? Your point is?

  9. I think this article sums it up pretty well:


    The biggest problem is that the one nation in the world that most trouts its fight for freedom don’t seem to understand what freedom really means and is acting in a totalitarian way in many ways. But somehow I don’t think you are able to see it JD, and I doubt you ever will.

  10. Now, why didn’t you put this in your original links? You decided to google for “I” visa and you came up with this old Slate news…you’re so adamant about “proving” your point…what is your point anyway? I am very familiar with this “case”…I know some of the officers involved.

    Requiring a visa of individuals has nothing to do with freedom…it is hardly totalitarian. We have a right to enforce our laws. All foreign journalists who are practicing their profession in the US KNOW that they need an “I” visa…they KNOW and many choose to ignore. The “I” visa requirement has been enforced since its inception many years ago. It’s nothing new…and it has nothing to do with terrorism. Of course, an individual is upset when he/she is refused entry…got caught! We deny entry to hundreds of people every day…they didn’t have the proper visas or travel documents, they lied to the officer and/or provided false info on entry documents, etc.

    The same thing happens in Canada when an individual is denied entry. I worked with Canada Immigration and Canada Customs when I lived in Vancouver, so I know. The same thing happens in Australia. But, of course, their “immigration issues” receive scant attention, whereas the big, bad “totalitarian” United States gets scrutinized on every issue. Therein lies the problem.

    It’s all about enforcing one’s laws. But, you don’t know anything about that…you’re just a radio man. Stick with what you know. You’re so intent on bashing the U.S. and Bush that you come off sounding really clueless…and you are.

  11. Well, I doubt that restrictive immigration makes us totalitarian. You obviously need to do more research.

    I’m sure that if I wished to go to Norway to work, that your government would take a dim view of me doing so without the proper permission (read: Visa).

    Protecting our borders is not a totalitarian scheme, it’s prudent security. By your logic we should just allow journalists to enter without question. In doing so we’d put all others on notice that all you’d need to do to get into the USA is to tell them that you’re a journalist, whether you are or not.

    We’d just rely on the trustworthiness of the traveling individual. If you believe this, then you are too naive to even make a cogent argument on this subject.

    Jim E.

  12. What a joke….

    “BTW, I am a federal law enforcement officer and I am an expert in immigration and customs laws.”

    JD is a Macromedia Flash Developer who lives in California named Josh Ettwein. He’s no law officer or immigration expert…see http://www.ettwein.com where he mentions this thread.

    Even better, Jim E is a relative of his who “happened” on this thread and surprisingly agrees and supports JD.


  13. Truthsayer, I don’t live in California…nowhere near it and I AM a federal law enforcement officer…and I have no idea who JE is. I have written comments here before and I always use JD…that’s what my friends call me. Don’t tell me…you’re unemployed and living with your mother, right? Jarle can determine where I’m posting from. How ’bout it, Jarle? You have my permission to reveal which state I’m posting from.

  14. Jarle, send me your address and I will send you a photocopy of my credentials and my badge. I will also send you a photocopy of my employment authorization in Canada which clearly shows my occupation.

  15. JE, I’m JD. Truthsayer and Jarle think that you and I are one in the same person. I’m a WASP woman…and you? Jewish male, right?

  16. Ah, JD what a mature response. I expected nothing less. BTW, I am fully employed and living with YOUR mother.

    Does anyone else find it strange that in these troubled times, that a “federal law enforcement officer” would be willing to mail a photocopy of their credentials and badge to an unknown location. I would have thought the government would view this as a breach in security. But hey, you’re the “expert”. Give me a break…

  17. Ok, so I’ve been out of the loop here for a few days… flame war has apparently gotten a little out of hand. Immature, very immature. I had thought this started out as a good banter on foregn policy, and Jarle and friends appear to have taken offense to someone with dissenting opinion. That’s too bad…

    I will happily take credit for the posts attributed to the poster, “JE”. Jarle/Truthsayer, (same person, I’m guessing) etc… you couldn’t make the connection between “JE” and “Josh Ettwein” rather than “JD”? Brilliant.

    You are incorrect in your assumption that JD and JE are the same person. I can assure you, they are not. I am, in fact, a web developer from California named Josh Ettwein, but no relation to JD… sorry to bust your bubble. Also, Jim E never claimed to “happen” upon your post. I found it and told him about it. I don’t know why you think this is some sort of grand conspiracy. I saw your post, I don’t agree with you, mentioned it to someone in my family, and he went there, read your blog and posted comments as well. If you don’t want the public to comment on your blog, disable public comments. Simple as that. I’m only using your blog how it was intended and how you have it set up.

    Also, I am male, but not Jewish… definitely NOT JD, and definitely NOT a federal law enforcement officer, nor did I ever claim to be. Read the post thread, jackass before you go spouting off at the mouth. It’s pretty clear from the above that I am not the same person.

    What do I care what you think about me anyhow? I don’t, that’s the answer. I would assume that you are dilligent enough to read your referer logs, and moreover, I don’t *care* if you know who I am. I’m proud of my beliefs, and I’m not ashamed to call you out for your naivete on international policy. You’re wrong, end of story, and to this minute, you still have not clarified what it is you’re trying to complain about with this “I” visa thing. It’s a non-issue. Get over it and stop acting like a 12-year old. Unless you’re 12, in which case, I apologize – keep acting like one :)

  18. And by the way… employment credentials like a badge, are (at least in the US) public information. I can ask to see any public servants’ badge whenever I want. It’s not confidential by any stretch of the imagination.

  19. Josh, listen.

    First off: From what I can gather from what I have been able to dig up you and JD are two different people. You have to excuse me, but your previous writing style both here and on other forums corresponds well with JDs, and Mr. Truthsayers allegations seemed to be plausible.

    Second: Although you have a different belief than me doesn’t make you right and me wrong. I don’t think you would see the flaws in the US policy and politics these days if it hit you in the head and caused damage to people you love.

    Third: You might notice, if you take a valium and calm down for a second that you are the one attacking person instead of case. Maybe you should try to grow up and try to discuss matters in a little more civilized way?

    Fourth: Not linking directly to my blog when you disagree, and posting on my blog anonymously is cowardly, no matter what you think about it.

  20. First off… get over yourself with the “from what I have been able to dig up on you” crap. You’re reading your apache logs and googling me, not running a background check. Didn’t tell you anything you couldn’t have asked me yourself and I would have gladly told you.

    I didn’t ever say that a difference of opinion made you wrong. What I said was that you were wrong about US Immigration policy, and you are. That’s not opinion, it’s fact. I’m not going to get into this line of discussion with you further.

    Third one, I won’t even address – it’s ridiculous and trolling.

    Fourth – cowardly? Please. Again, you’re trolling, but what on earth could I possibly have to fear from you and posting on your blog? What you might think about me? Sorry, not an issue. The reason people post anonymously (no email) is specifically so their email boxes are not flooded with crap from people who are pissed about posts on their blog. That’s why. I don’t really need the garbage in my inbox.

    However, now that you’ve “exposed” me with your master sleuthing, Nancy Drew, I’ll be sure to put my name on all posts I make to your blog from now on. Satisfied?

  21. Well, well, well. It appears that if one is related to another he or she must give up all rights to independent opinion. I posted on your site after I was alerted to the nature of the conversation.

    Your commentary, if you’d take the time to review it, is the only one that conducts ad hominem attacks. I’d also recommend you try to find a definition of “totalitarian” since you don’t seem to have a good grasp of its meaining. It does not imply that the government controls outside opinion and expression. But, that the government controls internal opinion and expresssion — two practices forbidden by the US Constitution. One doesn’t need to enter the US to express opinions about our system of government or how we conduct it. They can do that from anywhere. You should not confuse entry permits for security purposes with control over free speech.

    I’ll also reiterate: Applying for a visa is not denial of entry. If you can’t prove who you are and why you’re here, you can’t come in. Seems logical and prudent to me… and to most sentient beings. Read up and join the club.

  22. Jim, nowhere in this discussion have I attacked anyone. Just read through the comments again and you will see that I have not once even begun to try to make this personal or answer back on personal attacks launched by others that disagree with me.

    As to your continued attacks, I am not going to dignify them with a response. I think most people will be able to gather who is using personal attacks in this discussion.

    I am closing this thread now. It has dawned on me that while I am trying to keep the discussion on a civil level, others don’t seem too keen on that kind of a discussion. The only thing keeping the comments open on this post would accomplish is more personal attacks and clouding of the issue.

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