Monday, June 11, 2007

Look Who's Watching Now
By: Kathleen Taylor

A couple went into an exercise equipment store to buy a treadmill. They found one they liked, and applied for financing. The bank representative told them—in front of other customers—that because the husband’s name is Hussein, they would have to wait 72 hours for an extra identity check “because of Saddam Hussein.”

A case of unlawful discrimination based on ethnic or national origin? Not these days! Not only was this incident legal; it was encouraged by the federal government.

This and other disturbing anecdotes were documented in a recent report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. The report focused on the unintended effects of the Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) list maintained by the U.S. Treasury Department.

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