Vivian Salama at PostGlobal

Vivian Salama

USA/Middle East

Vivian Salama is an award winning reporter, producer and blogger. Currently based in Lahore, Pakistan, she has reported for various publications from across the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans, the United States and North and South Korea. She has also appeared as a commentator on the BBC, France24, South African Broadcasting Corp., TVNZ, NPR and as a reporter for Voice of America radio. Her byline has appeared in numerous publications including Newsweek, USA Today, the International Herald Tribune, the National, Jerusalem Post, and the Daily Star. Salama has an MA in Islamic Politics from Columbia University and she previously worked as a lecturer of international journalism at Rutgers University. Close.

Vivian Salama

USA/Middle East

Vivian Salama is an award-winning reporter, producer and blogger. Currently based in Lahore, Pakistan, she has reported for various publications from across the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans, the United States and North and South Korea. more »

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Track Record Doesn't Inspire Confidence

My first question as a PostGlobal panelist -- and it is quite a double-edge sword!

One line from Francis Bellamy's Pledge of Allegiance comes to mind. The last line reads: "Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Written in 1892, Bellamy considered adding the word "equality" to this last line; however, he knew that the superintendents of schools across the country opposed the thought of equality for women and African Americans. So just like that, equality vanished from the Pledge.

Fortunately, 115 years later, we in the United States are witnessing a presidential campaign where the two Democratic front runners represent both women and African Americans, but have we really grasped the concept of "equality" in this post-9/11 world?

Certainly, if anyone of any race or gender is committing a crime, they deserve to be prosecuted. But where do we draw the line between policing global communications and unequal, unjustified (and sometimes undignified) surveillance?

Those of my generation can only read of World War II Japanese internment camps in history books. Arguably, we have come a long way since then (although a devil's advocate might draw parallels with Guantanamo Bay). Ultimately, a nation at war must take certain precautions to ensure the security of its citizens. Fair enough. Those were scary times -- as are these (or so the Bush administration likes us to believe). How many times in recent years have we seen someone's life -- often someone with a Muslim last name -- smeared all over the media as a "suspect" only to later find out that individual was cleared. We saw it recently when a young doctor in Australia was named, and later cleared, as a suspect in last month's failed bomb attack in London. Authorities believed he had helped to coordinate the plot online. He has since been uprooted from his home in Australia; his life will never be the same. In the end, it was blamed on an intelligence "mistake." That's a big -- unintelligent -- mistake.

I have watched people close to me, some of the most patriotic Middle Eastern immigrants who came to this country in search of the American dream, subjected to seemingly lump-sum security measures and not-so-random checks while traveling or moving about. It is a harsh reality to face when the country you love doesn't love you back. There's certainly nothing "intelligent" about it.

So I say, intelligence is great if it keeps us safe and respects our freedom and equality. However, given their recent track record, I think it's fair to say they'll meet some skeptics along the way.

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