Persons of Interest On Sept. 13, 2001, a Pakistani Californian named Salem Jaffer was stopped by police in a Burger King parking lot in Buffalo and accused of… Persons of Interest On Sept. 13, 2001, a Pakistani Californian named Salem Jaffer was stopped by police in a Burger King parking lot in Buffalo and accused of… 2004-09-03 Unrated PT63M
Movie Review

Persons of Interest (2004)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Persons of Interest | HOMELAND INSECURITY? ''Interest'' profiles non-U.S. citizens detained in post-9/11 sweeps on questionable evidence
HOMELAND INSECURITY? ''Interest'' profiles non-U.S. citizens detained in post-9/11 sweeps on questionable evidence
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Limited Release: Sep 03, 2004; Rated: Unrated; Length: 63 Minutes

On Sept. 13, 2001, a Pakistani Californian named Salem Jaffer was stopped by police in a Burger King parking lot in Buffalo and accused of driving a stolen car. So Jaffer, a small man with nerdy glasses and a graying mustache, showed them his rental-car contract. ''Do you know how to fly an airplane?'' persisted authorities after arresting him. ''Are you suicidal?'' He spent a month in solitary, in a cell lit 24 hours a day. After deliberating for just seven minutes, a jury finally set Jaffer free -- it only cost him $25,000 in legal fees.

Persons of Interest, a resonant documentary codirected by Alison Maclean (''Jesus' Son''), digs up 11 more conscience-rattling stories like Jaffer's: Meet a Palestinian who was arrested just because he's Arabic, and a Pakistani man busted because his kid had flight-simulation games in the house. Some testimonies fall flat, but ''Persons'' portrays our Justice Department -- in Javert-esque sound bites from Attorney General John Ashcroft -- as having grossly equated ''non–U.S. citizens'' with ''terrorists.'' An estimated 5,000 ''terrorists'' were detained after 9/11. The film insists that none of them -- including the heartbroken souls shown here -- were ever convicted of anything having to do with 9/11.

Originally posted Sep 01, 2004 Published in issue #782-783 Sep 10, 2004 Order article reprints
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