I had the dubious pleasure recently of following the events at Nottingham University at fairly close hand, through a colleague who's been involved in organising support for the two people who were arrested, had their homes raided, spent 6 days in detention and (in the case of one) is now facing deportation to Algeria for printing off a document which is freely available on the FBI website and Amazon. There's a lovely, angry account of the whole thing by "Kemo Sabe" at http://freehichamyezza.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/kemo-sabe-gives-his-account-the-war-on-terror-comes-to-campus/Â - well worth a read.
The whole story would be laughable if it were not so tragic; anyone can hit the panic button too soon, and clearly it would have made a lot more sense to pick up the phone and call the student's supervisor to check that he was indeed researching Islamic fundamentalism (as of course many people do in UK departments specialising in international relations). What's strange is how hard the university seems to find it to say "sorry, we made a mistake, could have happened to anyone, we're going to fund legal support for this guy so he doesn't have to suffer as a result".
In A fish called Wanda, the heroine has to talk her boyfriend (the ex-CIA assassin) through this particularly difficult step:
"Now think. What would an intellectual do in a case like this? What would Plato do?"
- (through gritted teeth) "Apologise".
"What did you say?"
- (shouting) "APOLOGISE!"