FBI mistreated escaped prisoner

When I saw an article in the Nov. 29 Herald, “Dealing with an FBI nightmare, ex-­hostage says,” I expected to read a much different article. Matt Schrier, a photographer who escaped a Syrian rebel prison in July 2013, might be subject to harassment by an overly suspicious FBI.

Rebel prisons are not known for their security, but the easiest way to escape is by joining their cause. However Schrier hasn’t been the victim of harassment, but apathy: He has had trouble getting an ID and finding a job. The FBI even suggested he stay at a homeless shelter.

This isn’t simply an unacceptable way to treat a heroic American coming home from a traumatic experience, it’s also a terrible way to monitor a potential threat. You figure the FBI might want to keep track of him. Maybe this would be easier if he had an ID, job, or address.

However the FBI doesn’t see Matt Schrier as a heroic American or as a potential terrorist; they see him as an intelligence asset, and time and time again we are failing them. The most notable case is Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped U.S. officials track down Osama bin Laden. Our government promised a $25 million reward for bin Laden, but Dr. Afridi was denied asylum and was sentenced to 33 years in Pakistani prison.

It’s no wonder we don’t know anything that’s happening in the Middle East. If this is how we treat our information sources, why would anyone tell us anything?

Jay Vandenberg


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