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The Debate Over a German Security Expert and ICE

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By Allan Holmes August 1, 2007

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For a look into how Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers do their job, check out a blog by a German information security expert, who was traveling this week to Las Vega to attend and teach at a security conference but was ordered to go back to Germany. For six years, Halvar Flake, also the CEO of Sabre Security, had traveled to the United States to train information security professionals (some of whom have been employees of the departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security). He held much of his seminars at the well known BlackHat security training conference. But when he arrived at a U.S. airport this week (he did not identify which one), Flake was stopped and questioned by ICE officers for four hours and eventually sent back to Germany. The reason: He didn’t have an H1B work visa.

While Flake’s straightforward account, written on his blog ADD/XOR/ROL (“a blog about reverse engineering, mathematics, politricks and some more …”), is an interesting inside look at how ICE interprets immigration policy, the more informative part of the blog is the comments section â€" which is highly populated. As expected, some submitters rail against the ICE the bureaucracy and apologize for how Flake was treated, but a fair number of people defend the agency and its officers, saying they did what they were supposed to do.

It would be informative to the debate, I think, to hear from government employees: Was Flake, a respected information security professional, a victim of an overly aggressive bureaucracy or was he treated fairly by the immigration laws?

Hat tip: Wired

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