I returned to the general holding area where I made small talk with a man from Brazil and another man from Iran. When talking with the Iranian man we both silently acknowledged the routine matter of our situation as Iranians returning to the US even though mine was a bit exceptional. After another half an hour of waiting, Officer T returned with all of my other belongings and a binder filled with xeroxed copies of my documents.
We moved into a small disorganized office with two desks with computers and a few chairs. I sat across from his desk.
“Now we have a lot of questions,” he said. “But before we get started do you have any questions?”
“No,” I said in my best poker face.
“Most people ask us why they are here.”
“I guess that's a good question,” I replied.
“Our other departments view travel histories, backgrounds, occupations and then tell us who we should be talking to. What we do is interview and do an initial evaluation. So let's get started. First of all what were you doing in Iran?”
“I was there to visit family and work on my documentary film.”
“You said you were staying in Tehran. Did you go anywhere else?”
“I went to Qom which is about an hour away,” I said preparing for the onslaught of new questions.
“What did you do there?” He said this while starting a new page in his notebook made for my file.
“I was there to visit a religious shrine and do some shopping. I can tell you what I bought there but you already saw all of it.”
“You didn't visit any training camps while you were there?”
“No, nor did I see any 'training camps.' I didn't go to Pakistan.”
He looked at me and saw that I was visibly offended of the notion of going to the kinds of terrorist training camps shown on television at any mention of Al Qaeda.
“Are you working with the Iranian government in any capacity? Did you meet anyone in high levels of the Iranian government?”
“Who is Alexander Kluge?”
“Alexander Kluge. We found his name in your things.”
“Where in my things?”
“In your notebook. Who is he?” He said this while showing me the copy of the pages in my notebook.
“You see, I'm a filmmaker and I use that notebook to write down ideas. So anything you see in there might not make any sense to you. Alexander Kluge is the name of a filmmaker that one of my professors recommended.”
“Ok. But now you see how this is going to work.”
“This is going to take forever,” I whined.