Verrrrry strange. He was supposed to speak in Toronto tonight about Trump, of course, but canceled early yesterday afternoon. The reason, per the organizer:
Late Sunday evening Khizr Khan, an American citizen for over 30 years, was notified that his travel privileges are being reviewed. As a consequence, Mr. Khan will not be traveling to Toronto on March 7th to speak about tolerance, understanding, unity and the rule of law. Very regretfully, Ramsay Talks must cancel its luncheon with Mr. Khan. Guests will be given full refunds.
Mr. Khan offered his sincere apologies to all those who made plans to attend on March 7th. He said: “This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why. I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future.
It’s Trump’s travel ban, silencing a prominent Muslim critic! But wait — Khan’s a citizen. He’s been a citizen since 1986. And it’s exceptionally easy for an American citizen to travel to Canada. Even if there was a mix-up somewhere and some federal agency overlooked the fact of his citizenship, there’s no reason under the travel ban that Khan should have had a problem. He was born in Pakistan, after all, which isn’t one of the six countries covered by the ban. He should have had no problem going to Toronto. Especially since, with no visa required to cross the border, there’s no reason a federal bureaucrat should even know of his whereabouts.
Typically the only reason the U.S. might stop someone from leaving the country, notes WaPo, is if they’ve been charged with a crime. But Khan’s record is clean. Could it have been the Canadians who insisted on reviewing his “travel privileges”? Nope, they claim, it wasn’t us. The State Department says it wasn’t them either. How about U.S. Customs and Border Protection? Might they have stopped Khan for some reason? Doesn’t sound like it:
Instead, The Daily Beast called Customs and Border Patrol. CBP spokespeople did not explain what happened to Khan, but brushed away the notion that the father was told he could not go to Canada.
“We don’t do that. We’re not going to review… no, no,” Janice Mosher from U.S. Customs and Border Protection public affairs told The Daily Beast. “It’s not something we do.”…
A different CBP spokesperson, however, later replied to The Daily Beast by email, saying the agency does not give travelers a heads-up ahead of overseas trips. The agency does not discuss individual cases, he added.
Presumably Khan wasn’t scheduled to travel until today, when the event was scheduled, in which case why would CBP have had any reason to tell him yesterday that there was a problem? He would have been stopped at the airport en route if there was, no?
Adding to the strangeness, the organizer later appeared to back away from the statement it put out yesterday, telling McClatchy, “Alll [sic] the other information we got from me [sic] khan so you’d best check with him.” Which is what McClatchy, and many, many other news sources did: They contacted Khizr Khan himself and asked what was going on. Unless I missed a story somewhere, as of Tuesday afternoon, he’s given all of them a polite “no comment.” Huh? Why would a high-profile Trump critic, experiencing the unfairness of travel restrictions firsthand, with Democrats everywhere salivating at a “Trump oppresses American citizen Khizr Khan” storyline in the making, have nothing to say to the media about having supposedly lost his “travel privileges”?
Two possibilities. One: He tried to pull a media hoax in which the big bad Trump-led federal government stripped him of his right to travel and it blew up far bigger than he was expecting. Now, fearing it’ll be exposed, he just wants it go away. I don’t buy that, though, for the simple reason that Khan would have known a claim like this, coming from a prominent Muslim critic of Trump, would obviously get lots of attention. It was a cinch from the start that the media would come running to ask him about it, so why go through with it if he wasn’t prepared to defend it? Two: What if … some malicious prankster posing as a federal agent dialed him up or emailed him to tell him that his “travel privileges” were suspended? Khan might have believed it, canceled the trip, put out the statement, and only then come to realize that he’d been hoaxed and had been free to travel all along. In that case, the sheer embarrassment at having been duped might lead him to put his head down and avoid all comment until this blows over, having created a minor media firestorm over a silly gag that he should have known better than to take at face value.
Apart from those two theories, though, I’m stumped. Why would this guy have thought his “travel privileges” were in jeopardy and, having said so publicly, why wouldn’t he elaborate on it with an adoring media waiting to hear from him?