Open Letter to Secretary Napolitano


Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

Radwan_A_MasmoudiWe – the signatories of this letter of appeal – are writing out of concern for the treatment of a colleague and friend for whom we have great respect.  Dr. Radwan A. Masmoudi, a dual citizen of the United States and Tunisia, has been struggling since 2005 to get his name removed from the “No Fly” Watch list.  As he wrote to you in 2009, Dr. Masmoudi flies domestically and internationally an average of 2-3 times a month.  As he has described it to us, without fail, he is subjected to a delay of approximately 1 hour each time before his boarding pass can be printed and he is allowed to board the plane. Upon arrival in the United States, he is always subjected to humiliating and embarrassing searches and interrogations (which last between 2 and 3 hours) about his travel itinerary, the meetings or conferences he attended, and the participants and subjects of these meetings and conferences.  On several occasions, DHS officers have come inside the aircraft or waited by the exit doors to escort him to the interrogation rooms, through customs and baggage claims. In addition to the countless hours of his life that have been wasted answering the same questions repeatedly, and the painful humiliation and degradation of being “pulled” in front of his  fellow citizens and sometimes in the company of his wife and four US-born children, Dr. Masmoudi has missed his flight on numerous occasions and has had to pay hotel and meal expenses out of pocket.

In 2010, after filing a second official TRIP complaint, he received a Redress Control Number: 2115204.  But he has yet to receive an actual redress, and since he last wrote, the debilitating, time-consuming, and too often humiliating disruptions of his travel upon leaving and returning to the US have persisted, with no discernible sign of change.  Through it all, he has been remarkably patient, but you can imagine how years of this kind of treatment wears on a person.

We know Dr. Masmoudi as a committed democrat who has been working for many years to reconcile the Islamic faith with democratic principles, and to promote democracy throughout the Islamic world.  He is not only a proud American citizen, but his work is very much in the national interest of the United States, and his Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the UN Democracy Fund, among many other notable foundations.  Dr. Masmoudi has worked tirelessly for the past 12 years to improve relations between the United States and the Muslim World, and to build bridges of understanding, brotherhood, and cooperation between people of all faiths and backgrounds.  We think the United States needs him to continue doing this work.  And he needs to travel to do this work.

We know that in this post-9/11 era, many names have gotten confused with others, and the net of vigilance was initially cast very wide. We also know that in this dangerous world, leads must be tracked down to several degrees of separation.  We know it can take some time to have innocent people removed from this list.  But, with this open letter, we appeal to you.  Given that Dr. Masmoudi has been dealing with this problem for seven years now, and given the importance of the work he is doing to advance our vital national interest of promoting democratic values and institutions within the Muslim world, we very much hope that the highest priority and attention can be given to this appeal.

Dr. Masmoudi, more than any person we know, has helped improve US-Tunisian relations, garner support for democracy in the Arab and Muslim world, and help implement a successful transition to democracy in Tunisia.  We think an expedited effort to resolve this petition is not only the right and fair thing to do for Dr. Masmoudi at this point, but an important thing to do for the United States as well.

Thank you,

Larry Diamond
Director, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law
Stanford University

Carl Gershman
National Endowment for Democracy

Shibley Telhami
University of Maryland and Brookings

David J. Kramer
Freedom House

Salam Al Marayati
Executive Director
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

John L Esposito
University Professor
Georgetown University

Nathan J. Brown
Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
George Washington University

Steven Heydemann
Senior Adviser
U. S. Institute of Peace

Akbar S. Ahmed
Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies
American University

Alfred Stepan
Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government
Director, Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion
Columbia University

Francis Fukuyama
Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law
Stanford University

Marina Ottaway
Senior Associate, Middle East Program
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Robert R. LaGamma

President, Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD)

Saad Eddine Ibrahim
Member, CSID Board of Directors
Founder and Director, Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies

Asma Afsaruddin
Chair, CSID Board of Directors
Chair & Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
Indiana University

Hrach Gregorian
Institute of World Affairs

Stephen McInerney
Executive Director
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

Daniel Brumberg
Senior Adviser
Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, USIP
Associate professor at Georgetown University

Charles Aquilina
Program Director
Initiatives of Change (IoC)

Margot Badran
Senior Fellow, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Georgetown University

Peter Bechtold
Chair Emeritus for Near East/North Africa Area Studies
Foreign Service Institute
US Dept. of State

Steven B. Bloomfield
Executive Director
Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
Harvard University

Whitney Bodman
Associate Professor of Comparative Religion
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Richard W. Bulliet
Professor of History
Columbia University

Fred Dallmayr
University of Notre Dame

David Dorn
International Affairs Director,
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

Imam Talal Eid
Islamic Institute of Boston
Former Commissioner, US Commission on International Religious Freedom

John P. Entelis
Professor of Political Science and Director, Middle East Studies Program
Fordham University

Carl W. Ernst
William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas Farr
Visiting Associate Professor
Georgetown University

David French
Chief Executive (2003-09)
Westminster Foundation for Democracy

Graham E. Fuller
Former Vice-Chair
National Intelligence Council

Marc Gopin
Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution
George Mason University

Joseph K. Grieboski
Chairman of the Board
Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Yvonne Haddad
Professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations
Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Georgetown University

Nader Hashemi
Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics
Josef Korbel School of International Affairs
University of Denver

Neil Hicks
International Policy Advisor
Human Rights First

Barbara Ibrahim
Director, Gerhart Center for Civic Engagement and Philanthropy
Cairo, Egypt

Douglas M. Johnston
International Center for Religion & Diplomacy

Jamil E. Jreisat
Professor of Public Administration & Political Science
University of South Florida

Merve Kavakci-Islam
Lecturer of International Relations
George Washington University

M. A. Muqtedar Khan
Associate Professor
University of Delaware

Joseph N. Kickasola
Professor of International Policy
Regent University

Mary Knight
Visiting Scholar
New York University

Charles Kurzman
Professor of Sociology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Howard LaFranchi
Diplomatic Correspondent
The Christian Science Monitor

Joseph Loconte
Associate Professor of History
The King’s College

John McClaughry
President, Institute for Liberty and Community

Oliver McTernan
Director, Forward Thinking

Thomas Michel, S.J.
Senior Fellow
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Joseph V. Montville
Program Director
School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
George Mason University

Siraj Mufti
Director International Center for Peace and Justice
Tucson, Arizona

Joshua Muravchik
Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute
School of Advanced International Studies
The Johns Hopkins University

Sheila Musaji
The American Muslim

Robert A. Pastor
Co-Director, Center for Democracy and Election Management
Professor of International Relations
American University

Ted Piccone
Senior Fellow and Deputy Director
Foreign Policy at Brookings Institute

Angel Rabasa
International Policy Analyst

John C. Rankin
Theological Education Institute

Richard C. Rowson
Vice President, Board of Directors
Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD)

Omid Safi
Professor of Religious Studies,
University of North Carolina

Bob Schadler
CSID Board Member

Abdallah Schleifer
CSID Board Member
Professor Emeritus American University in Cairo
Middle East Institute

Timothy Samuel Shah
Associate Director& Scholar in Residence
Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University

Emad El-Din Shahin
Henry R. Luce Associate Professor
University of Notre Dame

Robert Shedinger
Associate Professor of Religion
Luther College

David Smock
Concerned Citizen

Tamara Sonn
Kenan Professor of Humanities
College of William & Mary

Philippa Strum

Broeklundian Professor Emerita
City University of New York

Antony T. Sullivan
Vice Chair
Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy

John D. Sullivan
Executive Director
Center for International Private Enterprise

Nayereh Tohidi
Professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies
California State University

John Voll
Professor of Islamic history
Georgetown University

Michael Wolfe

William Zartman
Jacob Blaustein Professor Emeritus
School of Advanced International Studies
The Johns Hopkins University

Stephen Zunes
Professor of Politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies
University of San Francisco


President Barack H. Obama, The White House

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman Chairman (ID) (CT), Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman, D-Vermont, the Senate Judiciary Committee

Hon. Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), Chairman of the full Committee on Homeland Security

Hon. John Conyers Jr. Chairman, (D) Michigan, 14th, House Judiciary Committee

Hon. Keith Ellison, (D) 5th District of Minnesota