Voiceover

'I'm terrified about what is happening to my country’

JONATHAN GATEHOUSE September 22 2003
Voiceover

'I'm terrified about what is happening to my country’

JONATHAN GATEHOUSE September 22 2003

'I'm terrified about what is happening to my country’

Voiceover

JONATHAN GATEHOUSE

They called me at 9 a.m. and woke me up with the news. I thought it was one of my friends putting me on. But it was the Treasury Department, saying that I owed them $10,000, that there was no appeal, no due process, and that they would start seizing assets if I didn’t pay. I asked them to put all of that in writing and they refused. All they gave me was my case number. They won’t put anything on paper because they don’t want me to give it to the media.

I can’t pay a fine like that. I just opened up

a small business about a year ago. We’re still in a fair amount of debt and just getting by-$10,000 would mean that I would be personally bankrupt, that I would go out of business, that my employees would be out of a job. But more to the point, my conscience won’t allow me to pay. It doesn’t strike me as a rational law. Of the 300 human shields, only the Americans came from a country where it was illegal for us to meet the people we were about to bomb.

I didn’t give it much thought before I went overseas. I wasn’t looking at it as, “Is this legal or illegal?” I knew it was the right thing to do. I spent three weeks in Baghdad. I left the U.$. in late January and returned in early March when I ran out of money. I was getting Iraqi children to put their fears about the

impending war on paper and share them with students in the U.$. My goal was to humanize the Iraqi people to Americans back home.

When I got back they were waiting for me at the airport. The customs guy said, “What the hell were you doing? All those people over there hate us.” I had just spent three weeks among the poorest people I had ever encountered, who were giving me the last of their food and a tremendous amount of hospitality, despite the fact that I was from a country that wanted to bomb them back to the Stone Age. They questioned me like I was a terrorist. I’m scared about what’s happening to me, but I’m terrified about what is happening to my country.

My real concern is that this is possible in the United Btates.