The engines on the Delta plane that carried prominent UK environmentalist John Stewart to New York's JFK airport were still warm last week when he was brought into the interrogation room. There, agents with the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the Secret Service shuffled in one after another until finally Stewart was shuffled out, back to another plane and back to London, his cross-country speaking tour that included a stop in Seattle ruined.
Mother Jones reports that following a seven-hour marathon interrogation, it became clear that Stewart's environmental activism was a bit too frightening for the US of A.
Odd, because Stewart, who was voted the "most effective green activist" in the UK in 2008, uses rather typical methods in promoting land-use issues and green causes. He's perhaps most famous for leading the effort to stop a new, third runway from being built at London's Heathrow Airport--a feat he accomplished through tried-and-true coalition-building, pamphleting, and classic get-the-word-out activism.
It was these methods and others that Stewart planned to speak about on his U.S. tour, which was organized by Aviation Justice Express, along with fellow activist Dan Glass.
And there, it seems, was the rub.
Glass is a slightly less orthodox environmentalist, perhaps best known for a lighthearted stunt he pulled in 2008 when, while accepting an award from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he attempted to super-glue his hand to the PM's jacket.
Dan Glass: The glue that binds us.
The stunt was laughed about by Brown later and no charges were ever filed.
But in a separate border-entry interview with Glass, the feds were apparently worried that he might try something similar if he met President Obama, or worse, Sarah Palin!
According to Glass, the officer posed a number of questions: Did he plan to super-glue himself to President Obama? What would Glass do if he met the president? After the officer wrapped up his questions, Glass proceeded to his actual visa interview with consular officials. There, too, he was asked super-glue-related questions: What about Sarah Palin? Would he super-glue himself to her?
As for Stewart, the government spooks seem most concerned about rabble-rousing on a general level.
The officer also asked a number of other questions, including:
"Are you aware of any civil disobedient demonstrations that will be taking place in the United States?"
"Do you, in any way, shape [or] form, intend to harm any officials of the United States government?"
"Have you ever made any threats towards the president of the United States, or the government of the United States?"
Stewart replied "no" to all of these questions.
Stewart's "no" answers obviously did not placate the border agents, and he was soon sent packing.
Currently Stewart is reapplying for a visa. But he's not holding out much hope that he'll ever be let on U.S. soil. Glass, meanwhile, has even less hope of ever getting in.