CBP Official Refuses To Give Journalist His Passport Until He 'Admits' He Writes 'Propaganda'

from the more-hell-for-the-dystopian-hellscape dept

The situation at our borders is getting worse for some American citizens. I mean, all American citizens are likely dealing with more questions, more screening, and more general hassle now that the President has declared immigrants and asylum seekers to be a “national emergency.”

The Presidential narrative that people at border crossings are inherently dangerous has undoubtedly had an effect on the mindset of border agency personnel. But there’s an added wrinkle, thanks to President Trump’s rhetoric portraying journalists as liars and — in multiple instances — “enemies of the people.” This, too, is having an effect on border personnel attitudes.

Defense One News Editor Ben Watson ran into this when he was returning from an assignment in Denmark:

CBP officer, holding Watson’s passport: “What do you do?”

Watson: “Journalism.”

CBP officer: “So you write propaganda, right?”

Watson: “No.”

CBP officer: “You’re a journalist?”

Watson: “Yes.”

CBP officer: “You write propaganda, right?”

Watson: “No. I am in journalism. Covering national security. And homeland security. And with many of the same skills I used in the U.S. Army as a public affairs officer. Some would argue that’s propaganda.”

CBP officer: “You’re a journalist?”

Watson: “Yes.”

CBP officer: “You write propaganda, right?”

Watson waited five seconds. Then: “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.”

CBP officer, a fourth time: “You write propaganda, right?”

Watson, again: “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.”

CBP officer: “Here you go.”

This isn’t the sort of thing all journalists see when returning from a foreign country, but it’s been seen by enough journalists that it can’t be ignored as an anomaly. The Defense One article lists a handful of other instances where journalists have been accosted and harangued by customs agents. In these cases, journalists were accused of “spreading lies” and creating “fake news.”

Of course, these interactions aren’t documented by customs agents, but at least one incident resulted in an apology from CBP officials, so they’re not fabrications or misunderstandings either. The more Trump repeats his attacks on journalists, the more commonplace these occurrences will be. Fortunately, there have only been a few reported incidents, which indicates customs officers are being more professional than the president when dealing with journalists. Then again, the DHS, ICE, and CBP have actually placed journalists under surveillance and subjected a great many of them to enhanced screenings and lengthy detentions.

There will always be those who will argue this isn’t the result of anything Trump has said, but is just the work of a few rogue agents. They’re right on the second part. Any agent who feels the need to attack journalists by accusing them of lying or spreading fake news has gone rogue. That’s not part of the job. Personal biases need to be set aside and there will always be a certain percentage of the workforce that just cannot seem to do that. If it seems more prevalent in government agencies — especially those whose employees wield a great deal of power — it’s because those are newsworthy incidents. An asshole at work is just an asshole. Someone being an asshole while deciding whether or not to let a US citizen back into the country is way more problematic.

But these incidents cannot be separated from Trump’s words and deeds. He has repeatedly claimed “fake news” journalists are an “enemy of the people,” and that’s being expressed by agencies that have been given the full backing of the administration. While previous presidential administrations have always had complaints about journalists, they were generally the kind of complaints most politicians have in the face of negative press. President Trump’s “enemy of the people” declarations are unprecedented. Government employees who back Trump are apparently taking him at his word.

This is making matters worse in areas of the country where our supposedly guaranteed rights and protections are almost nonexistent. And, since Trump hasn’t shown any signs of lowering the heat under his anti-press rhetoric, things will continue to get worse.

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Comments on “CBP Official Refuses To Give Journalist His Passport Until He 'Admits' He Writes 'Propaganda'”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Signs of the future

CBP officer, holding Traveler’s passport: “What are you?”

Traveler: “Human being.”

CBP officer: “So you’re a monkey, right?”

Traveler: “No.”

CBP officer: “You’re a Human being?”

Traveler: “Yes.”

CBP officer: “You are really a monkey, right?”

Traveler: “No. I am a Human being. Traveling for tourism.”

CBP officer: “You’re a Human being?”

Traveler: “Yes.”

CBP officer: “You’re really a monkey, right?”

Traveler waited five seconds. Then: “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.”

CBP officer, a fourth time: “You really a monkey, right?”

Traveler, again: “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.”

CBP officer: “How did you get a passport?”

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Signs of the future

Fun fact: there is no requirement anywhere in the US Constitution that someone be a citizen to have rights, or that someone even be human.

But there are federal statutes that define anyone who violates a constitutional right under color of lae (aka in the course of their employment by the government) to be a felon.

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Something something isolated examples, does not define the high standards we have for our employees.

Perhaps its time we the people start asking why these people have so much unchecked power?
They were complaining they couldn’t get people to join CBP b/c of the bad reputation, so they were only getting lesser candidates… who they took and gave power over other people.

I look forward to seeing Trump in a Qaudafiesque Moo Moo talking about how powerful he is…

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Anonymous Coward says:

Propaganda

Just because what the CBP did was inappropriate, doesn’t mean they are wrong. In fact, there is not a shred of credibility left in most previously respected news organizations. Just look at the NYT hit piece on Kavanaugh last August and the tiny retraction later. But since most people here believe their propaganda, there will be outrage.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

This situation reeks of a government agency attempting to stifle a free press through intimidation tactics. Whether you agree with what the member of the press in this situation says shouldn’t matter if you want a free press with which you will, at times, disagree. To wit: If a CBP agent did this to a Fox News anchor under the watchful eye of a Democrat president, how would you feel about that?

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

the conduct of this one was wanting to be sure, but not typical as a generality

A few bad apples spoil the entire bunch.

We did watch a Democrat president, whilst championing a new era of open government, launch a war on whistle blowers

And that, too, was bullshit.

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John Snape (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-rare-peek-into-a-justice-department-leak-probe/2013/05/19/0bc473de-be5e-11e2-97d4-a479289a31f9_story.html

The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Was that supposed to be a rebuttal? I appreciate you offering a source to your claim that a recent Democrat administration did some questionable stuff too, but Stephen P. Stone was saying that that was also deserving of criticism. Hence why he said, “And that, too, was bullshit,” (emphasis added) as opposed to, “And that, too, is bullshit.” He was saying that the fact that a Democrat president also launched a war against whistleblowers is also unacceptable. Indeed, Techdirt has repeated criticized both Obama’s administration’s treatment of whistleblowers in general and, as noted by Tim Alloysius Cushing, the specific incident you cite as an example.

Furthermore, that doesn’t exonerate or mitigate the wrongdoing by the current administration, and it has FA to do with the CBP.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You mean how Obama and Holder spied on 20 AP Journalists and Fox News Reporter James Rosen and basically used the power of government to stifle their reporting. Compare that to a CBP agent holding up a reporter for about 20 seconds just getting them to say that they spread propaganda, which really seemed more like a joke than any attempt to stifle the press. This or anything trump has done is nothing compared to what occurred between 2009-2013.

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John Snape (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-rare-peek-into-a-justice-department-leak-probe/2013/05/19/0bc 473de-be5e-11e2-97d4-a479289a31f9_story.html

The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

which really seemed more like a joke than any attempt to stifle the press

When a person with both authority and the power to back it up tells a “joke” outside of a comedic setting that reads like an attempt to intimidate the press, take it seriously. Claiming backsies because it’s politically convenient — and doing so on behalf of another person so their position can remain ambiguous — doesn’t make what was done any less bullshit.

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Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Schrodinger’s Douchebag is when a douchebag is in a superposition of serious or trolling states; upon one of their douchey statements being parsed, the douchebag is forced at a quantum level to assume a state of serious or trolling.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You can say that, but is the end result of this encounter really going to stifle anything that that journalist writes? CBP was inappropriate, and yes, it could have been worse. But you cannot really say that this incident really intimidated anyone. He was inconvenienced for all of 20 seconds so that the agent got his point across that he believes most of what is coming from the media is propaganda. Not that he was right to do it, but this should not be treated like he sent the DOJ or IRS after his political opponents like we saw previously and everyone here just yawned.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Not that he was right to do it, but

“Yes, this behavior is bullshit and shouldn’t be happening, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut [flimsy justification for letting it happen].” That’s you. That’s your whole comment. If the behavior is bullshit, the reason someone did it shouldn’t matter — and neither should your attempt to turn a pile of shit into a three-course meal after the fact.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

it is wrong, but [flimsy excuse for bullshit behavior]

Go ahead. Offer up another one.

If the behavior is bullshit, stop justifying or excusing it. I don’t care if it’s a “small fish” in a pond filled with “much bigger abuses” — it’s still an abuse of power and authority, and it shouldn’t be excused or justified.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

And one more thing:

the agent got his point across that he believes most of what is coming from the media is propaganda

For what reason did the agent absolutely and unquestionably need to make that point, at that time, to that journalist, while the agent was on duty as a CBP agent?

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Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Propaganda

You have a serious case of trump derangement syndrome.

Everytime I post actual facts about Cadet Bonespurs, someone quips about TDS.

Seems like ignoring the facts is more deranged than being angry about his lies, doesn’t it?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/12/president-trump-has-made-false-or-misleading-claims-over-days/

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Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Propaganda

Even if what you say~wife beater, etc.- is true

Well lets’ see, one of his ex wives said he arped her – under oath. He’s been documented on cheating on his pregnant wife and paying hush money.

He got two fake deferments to avoid the draft. Bone spurs don’t just go away in a couple of years.

Truth hurts, don’t it? And the truth isn’t defamation. Especially with a public figure who always brags about his fake accomplishments.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is very little news in most outlets today, it is almost entirely opinion and speculation. This is true both for left and right leaning outlets. Fox has about 6 hours of straight news a day, while CNN and MSNBC have even less. In most papers, the editorial pages and news pages are no longer separate entities. People go to news sources that tell them what they want to hear. And when you think about it, with all of the money in politics, and the fact that newspapers and other media outlets are bleeding cash, is it really a stretch to believe that the head of a news organization sacrifices reliability in order to accept money directly from a person interested in influencing the message coming from that news source?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t know what newspapers you claim to be reading, but I’ve never seen one that didn’t have a pretty clear "Opinion"/"Editorial" banner on the top when you turned to the opinions page.

is it really a stretch to believe that the head of a news organization sacrifices reliability in order to accept money directly from a person interested in influencing the message

There’s only one person I know of recently who has been credibly accused of paying off a news organization to influence the message coming from that source.

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Baron von Robber says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There is an entire volume of Trump and Russian collusion. But Mueller looked for conspiracy, not collusion, but couldn’t find enough proof.

Now we have Trump admitting conspiracy with Ukraine the day after the Mueller Report to have Ukraine go fishing for dirt on an American candidate. Mueller won’t be needed for this one.

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Baron von Robber says:

Re: Prove Trump Wrong

"We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned"

"Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait."

https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/23/503146770/npr-finds-the-head-of-a-covert-fake-news-operation-in-the-suburbs

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And there’s a good reason for that:

People of all persuasions like to have their prior opinions reinforced, and so we are all susceptible to clickbait (fantastic headlines that appeal to our biases, but have no real substance) and fake news (made-up or grossly exaggerated stories that we want to believe). So both kinds of disinformation are constantly being produced on the extreme Left and Right alike. The difference is what happens then.

“there is ample supply of and demand for false hyperpartisan narratives on the left. The difference is that the audience and hyperpartisan commercial clickbait fabricators oriented toward the left form part of a single media ecosystem with center, center-left, and left-wing sites that are committed to journalistic truth-seeking norms. Those norm-constrained sites, both mainstream and net-native, serve as a consistent check on dissemination and validation of the most extreme stories when they do emerge on the left, and have no parallels in the levels of visibility or trust that can perform the same function on the right.”

In other words: False stories that come from the Left drift towards the center and get debunked. And that’s usually the end of them. Sites on the far Left know that a lot of their audience also listens to NPR or reads The New York Times. Even if a story has to make it all the way to the center-right (The Wall Street Journal, say, or National Review) before it gets shot down, the correction will filter back, making left-wing sites look bad if they keep repeating the false information.

Nothing similar happens on the Right.

“Dynamics on the right tend to reinforce partisan statements, irrespective of their truth, and to punish actors—be they media outlets or politicians and pundits—who insist on speaking truths that are inconsistent with partisan frames and narratives dominant within the ecosystem.”

In other words, the right-wing news ecosystem has no antibodies that fight infection by false information. Left and Right are each exposed to misinformation and disinformation, but nothing on the Right keeps it from taking root.

“It is not that Republicans are more gullible, or less rational, than Democrats. It is not that technology has destroyed the possibility of shared discourse for all. It is the structure of the media ecosystem within which Republican voters, whether conservatives or right-wing radicals, on the one hand, and Republican politicians, on the other hand, find themselves that made them particularly susceptible to misperception and manipulation, while the media ecosystem that Democrats and their supporters occupied exhibited structural features that were more robust to propaganda efforts and offered more avenues for self-correction and self-healing.”

(Source)

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s not what the story was actually about. The only people who even said that were right wing conspiracy sites trying to muddy the waters. But hey if you want to be a useful idiot, go right on ahead. Looks like most of the active propaganda posts are already filled out anyway.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

they spent two-plus years trying to tell us Trump and Russia ‘stole’ the election through Facebook ads.

No, they didn’t. The story being told was this:

Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election through a sophisticated network of social media propaganda, including the publication of mistruths disguised as facts and the creation of Facebook groups intended to help spread misinformation. The efforts were aimed at getting a result favorable to the Russians (i.e., useful idiot Donald Trump being elected as president). Trump/his family/his campaign may or may not have colluded with the Russians as part of those efforts. We don’t know with certainty whether or not such collusion existed, or still exists, because of a sustained and unprecedented effort by the Trump administration to obstruct the federal investigation into that collusion.

And the Mueller report, by the by, laid out at least ten specific acts taken by either Trump or his administration cronies that, in virtually any other situation, would lead the Department of Justice to at least indict the people involved for obstruction of a federal investigation.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Also, there’s another qualifier to that story. In many cases, journalists are careful not to say whether the Russians were successful in creating effects sufficient to influence the election enough to change the results after accounting for unrelated factors.

Furthermore, even if the Russian-interference story was false, the alternative explanations offered and the conspiracy theories about how it came about are far less credible and far more unlikely. They also fail to explain why Trump’s administration isn’t providing exonerating evidence to anyone.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Some day,

Oh I think that many humans understand other humans to a large degree. But certainly not when they deliberately close eyes, ears, and brains in the furtherance of their agenda. Whether that agenda is part of a personal ideology, or a paid for ideology then becomes a part of the essential questions, of which there are many.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Harsh but...

you aren’t the only one who has to deal with getting home at 3. we all go through it. Please give me back my passport so we can both go back to our lives.

The journalist wants to get through the line and go home. The CBP agent is going to be there for the rest of his shift either way, whether it’s harassing this guy for an hour, or moving on to the next person.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Producing propaganda is not, in and of itself, a criminal act. If it were, anyone who produced any kind of propaganda for anything — from mainstream political movements to video game “console warz” bullshit — would be a criminal. Yes, there are instances where producing propaganda can be a criminal act, but that depends on factors beyond the mere producing of propaganda itself.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see hear is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter (sarcastic as it may be) with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.What a pack of bull this (non) story is.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter (sarcastic as it may be) with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.What a pack of bull this (non) story is. Wat the officer being slightly unprofessional? Yes. Was he threatening to impede or deny the person’s entry if he didn’t answer the questions the right way? There is no evidence of that in the text. There isn’t even an implication. In each instance it appears to me that the uptight self-important "journalist" was offended that the officer would even dare to talk to him like he was just another traveler and saw an opportunity to make a lot of hooey out of nothing and damage the career of hard working civil servants placing their personal safety on the line to protect us.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter (sarcastic as it may be) with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.What a pack of bull this (non) story is. Wat the officer being slightly unprofessional? Yes. Was he threatening to impede or deny the person’s entry if he didn’t answer the questions the right way? There is no evidence of that in the text. There isn’t even an implication. In each instance it appears to me that the uptight self-important "journalist" was offended that the officer would even dare to talk to him like he was just bozo on the bus, saw an opportunity to make a lot of hooey out of nothing and damage the career of a civil servant simply trying to do his job and get through his workday. What a hero this journalist is.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter (sarcastic as it may be) with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.What a pack of bull this (non) story is. Wat the officer being slightly unprofessional? Yes. Was he threatening to impede or deny the person’s entry if he didn’t answer the questions the right way? There is no evidence of that in the text. There isn’t even an implication except what was injected in the article. In each instance it appears to me that the uptight self-important "journalist" was offended that the officer would even dare to talk to him like he was just another bozo on the bus like the rest of us and saw an opportunity to cry about it, thereby damaging the career of a civil servant simply trying to do his job and get through his workday. What a hero this journalist is.

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scooby says:

Baloney

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter (sarcastic as it may be) with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty, and an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about. Same goes for the "at least one" incident for which CBP issued an apology. Much ado about nothing. Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away. Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.What a pack of bull this (non) story is. Was the officer being slightly unprofessional? Yes. Was he threatening to impede or deny the person’s entry if he didn’t answer the questions the right way? There is no evidence of that in the text. There isn’t even an implication except what was injected in the article. In each instance it appears to me that the uptight self-important "journalist" was offended that the officer would even dare to talk to him like he was just another bozo on the bus like the rest of us and saw an opportunity to cry about it, thereby damaging the career of a civil servant simply trying to do his job and get through his workday. What a hero this journalist is.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Sad low energy trolling

There is nothing to back up. I’ve said nothing here that’s not my opinion, just like all the other opinion. What was attributed to the journalist above is his version of events in textual format. Okay. How did it play out in context? Is it abuse of power? Based on the text, I don’t think so. Unprofessional? Probably. So many different variables and all we see is one side, yet all the vilification of the officer. I will wait for the facts. I never heard of the journalist and I don’t know anything about him, but its his word against his word.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Sad low energy trolling

You asserted without evidence that the officer was joking, and that that would make it not an abuse of power. You failed to back up your reasoning for the latter.

It’s not “his word against his word” unless and until we have more than one side to the story to work from. We’re all operating under the assumption, for the sake of argument, that every reasonable fact the journalist gave is true or close to it.

No matter the context, it’s an abuse of power even if that wasn’t the intention of the officer.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

I merely tossed it out there as a possibility in highlighting that all we see is text.

Ah, so you were only hypothesizing. See, that sounds a lot like someone who says something racist says “I was only joking” if someone else reacts negatively — i.e., your blindly pro-LEO argument fell flat and now you’re saying you were hypothesizing as a backsies defense.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Bull. I’ve said and or alluded to all along that the perspective based on the text could vary and that there could be all kinds of possibilities. I don’t care if you react negatively to my giving the benefit of the doubt to the officer which is NOT blindly defense. I’ve said from the beginning if facts establish he did something wrong he should be dealt with accordingly but based on what I read in the text there are other possibilities. Your attempt to compare that to race and racism is pathetic.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

I’ve said and or alluded to all along that the perspective based on the text could vary and that there could be all kinds of possibilities.

But when you started this discussion thread, you insulted the journalist multiple times for no reason other than you could. Your “hypothesizing” defense of those statements seems like, at best, an attempt to call “backsies” on them after they landed with a dull thud and people responded appropriately.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13

I read the dialogue that was posted and offered another way one could interpret what happened based solely on the dialogue.

What you didn’t offer, however, was anything saying that your insults of the journalist were “hypothetical”. You’re trying to call “backsies” on all the insults and ad homs you launched at him with a ridiculous “I was only hypothesizing” defense. I’m a bit of a dumbass and even I can see through that shit, so the least you can do is own up to it.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

There’s a lot wrong with what you’re saying, both here and in other comments, but in this comment, I just want to mention two things.

First, there’s this, which is a tired old point:

I’ve said from the beginning if facts establish he did something wrong he should be dealt with accordingly but based on what I read in the text there are other possibilities.

I’m not sure that first part was made all that clear, but more importantly, the only “other possibilities” you’ve mentioned are that the officer was not serious, joking, and/or being sarcastic, which we’ve refuted as highly unlikely based on the text. (Why repeat it four times if it was just sarcasm?) Additionally, you have failed to explain how any of these alternative explanations would actually change our conclusions, as we have also explained multiple times.

This second bit, on the other hand, is new:

Your attempt to compare that to race and racism is pathetic.

Please explain where Stephen talked about race and/or racism at all in this thread. AFAICT, this is the first time anyone has mentioned or alluded to either in this entire comment section, and the article wasn’t about those things either. Where the hell did you get that idea from?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

"Please explain where Stephen talked about race and/or racism at all in this thread. AFAICT, this is the first time anyone has mentioned or alluded to either in this entire comment section, and the article wasn’t about those things either. Where the hell did you get that idea from?"

From here:

"Ah, so you were only hypothesizing. See, that sounds a lot like someone who says something racist says “I was only joking” if someone else reacts negatively"

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Sad low energy troll

Well, I assert that 1) the officer probably wasn’t joking/being sarcastic if he said the same thing four times, and 2) it makes zero difference if he was, as I and others have repeatedly explained to you.

Also, I don’t think you understand what sarcasm means, because if the officer was being sarcastic, no part of the conversation makes any sense other than the first question and its response.

As for context, what context could possibly change our analysis? We’ve already explained that “he was joking” or “he was being sarcastic” don’t change anything and are unlikely based on the information we do have. (Also, that’s not exactly what “context” includes.)

We do have some context, though, contrary to your assertions. The conversation takes place at an airport within the U.S. One guy is a CBP officer tasked with protecting our borders by checking the passports of anyone who attempts to enter the country and asking those people relevant questions (along with checking baggage for contraband and such). The other guy is a U.S. journalist for Defense One News attempting to reenter the country with minimal fuss and who has a valid U.S. passport. The conversation takes place in what is otherwise standard procedure for anyone attempting to reenter the country with a passport: the officer takes the passport to verify it while asking the other guy questions like occupation and purpose and such. As such, the officer is holding on to the man’s passport for the duration of the conversation, and the journalist cannot leave until the officer says he can and returns the passport to him.

What additional context do you want?

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

What I see here is a Customs officer attempting to engage in light hearted banter (sarcastic as it may be) with one of the many people s/he encounters during a tour of duty

Accusing a journalist of writing propaganda, and holding up that person’s legal travel, as if writing propaganda is a crime is not light-hearted banter. It is an attempt to stifle the speech of others. If someone with both authority and the power to back it up makes a “joke” outside of a comedic setting to someone who is both the “victim” of the “joke” and a potential target for an abuse of power by the person in authority, take that “joke” seriously.

Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away.

Doesn’t matter. Holding up someone’s legal travel for even a millisecond because of a personal issue with their job is an abuse of authority. It cannot be justified and it should not be excused.

Was the officer … threatening to impede or deny the person’s entry if he didn’t answer the questions the right way? There is no evidence of that in the text.

From the text, we can infer that the officer has an issue with what they perceive as “propaganda” coming from people who call themselves “journalists”. Given how the officer asked the same question four times, we can infer that the journalist admitting “I am a propagandist” was the only way the officer would allow the journalist to leave.

And by the by: Being a propagandist, or producing propaganda, is not in and of itself a crime in the United States of America.

In each instance it appears to me that the uptight self-important "journalist" was offended that the officer would even dare to talk to him like he was just another bozo on the bus

Again: If someone with both authority and the power to back it up makes a “joke” outside of a comedic setting to someone who is both the “victim” of the “joke” and a potential target for an abuse of power by the person in authority, take that “joke” seriously.

The officer may have been trying to “joke” with the journalist. I admit that to being a possibility. But as I am fond of saying, the effect of an act is its real intent. When you tell a joke that makes the person to whom you’re telling it feel uncomfortable, no matter how funny you think the joke is, that person’s discomfort — and whatever feeling you get from making that person feel uncomfortable — is the real intent of your telling the joke.

damaging the career of a civil servant simply trying to do his job and get through his workday

A CBP officer can (and should) get through their workday without trying to either chill a journalist’s speech or impede that journalist’s legal travel because of the officer’s now-obvious personal issues with journalists and the media. Any damage done to the officer’s career if they can’t do that is their own goddamn fault.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:

Text doesn’t convey tone or intent. Even if you disagree with the officer’s sarcastic commentary; commentary which was probably made in a jocular context to a person who takes himself far too seriously (not uncommon for many so-called journalists). But aside from your assumptions, you clearly have no idea how much "power" an individual uniformed US Customs officer wields. If you did, you would realize how overly dramatic your drivel really is.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

commentary which was probably made in a jocular context to a person who takes himself far too seriously

That doesn’t matter. At all.

Even if the officer was trying to tell a joke (and I don’t buy that after-the-fact excuse at all), they still told it in a context where the person was both the “victim” of the joke and unable to speak up about that. If you were being made fun of by someone with the authority to arrest you and the power to back up their actions, would you try to get out of the situation as quick as possible, or would you speak up and risk really pissing off the person with the authority and power to fuck up your day?

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You don’t know if he was "making fun" of anybody. All you have is a text version of the interaction. Based on the text, I agree it’s not as professional as I would like, but it’s not the end of the damned world. Also, uniformed US Customs officers do not have any "arrest" powers, they can merely detain with probable cause until a criminal investigator is brought to the scene, nor is there any evidence there that this person was detained even for a brief second. All this could easily have been said while the officer was processing the individual through the checkpoint. Your sky is falling reaction is unwarranted. It’s merely typical of the kneejerk anti authority sentiment found often on this board.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Your unquestioned swallowing of whatever this smug anti authority so-called journalist bellows out of his pompous mouth shows what an eager cop hater you are. There was a time when journalists kept ACTUAL power in check. These days they keep their corporate masters happy. What a sycophant you are.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Actually, I’ve stated multiple times that I’m giving the officer the benefit of doubt pending further investigation. My comment about the journalist was made to show that what a person gleans from this text varies depending on perspective. I have no idea who the journalist is, but the fact that this has been put out there before the investigation says a lot to me.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

I’ve stated multiple times that I’m giving the officer the benefit of doubt pending further investigation.

Yet your first comment in this particular discussion thread excoriates the journalist, and every subsequent post shows more of a willingness to excuse the officer’s behavior than to doubt whether the officer abused their authority. If you were trying to prove that you’re giving “both sides” the benefit of the doubt, you failed.

I have no idea who the journalist is, but the fact that this has been put out there before the investigation says a lot to me.

I hope it’s saying, “LEOs have a history of excusing/burying the bad behavior of other LEOs and the only reason we know about many such abuses involves the victims of those abuses coming forward about them.”

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

smug anti-authority so-called journalist

I wasn’t aware that journalists for Defense One were known for an anti-authority bias.

The fact that you immediately assume that any journalist who has anything negative to say about an authority figure, even one you don’t know, must be “smug”, “anti-authority”, and “pompous”, and that anyone outraged on their behalf must be “an eager cop hater” and a “sycophant”, shows what an ass-kissing asshole you are.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

You’re absolutely correct about that. I have no idea about the writer’s attitudes, and I don’t immediately assume.

You say that after having said all this about the writer and what he had to say:

…what this smug anti-authority so-called journalist bellows out of his pompous mouth…

a person who takes himself far too seriously (not uncommon for many so-called journalists)

an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about

Just a thin skinned pompous ass who found a situation he could over-dramatize and exploit to further the political narrative.

…the uptight self-important "journalist" was offended that the officer would even dare to talk to him like he was just another bozo on the bus like the rest of us and saw an opportunity to cry about it

(Admittedly that last one was more of a general statement about journalists, but in context, you’re suggesting the same about the writer.)

Given all that, please forgive us if we’re skeptical about your claim of evenhanded nonjudgmentalism and that you’re just “waiting for the facts” and “don’t immediately assume”. Perhaps you’re backtracking on your initial assumption of the writer’s character because it was subconscious and you now realize it wasn’t based on evidence. However, you clearly did “immediately assume” the writer was not a credible source, at least at first.

But we also have no idea yet how the officer behaved…

Well, according to the text, the officer did not return the journalist’s passport and allow him to continue through until after asking the same rude, irrelevant question no less than four times, the last of which was the last thing the officer asked him anything during this conversation before returning the passport and letting him through. That gives us some indication as to his behavior.

…so the immediate assumptions being made about the officer are off-base.

Given what I just said is made explicitly clear from the text itself, combined with the surrounding context that CBP has been getting some backlash that CBP officers blame on journalists’ coverage of them and the actions of other CBP officers in particular and LEOs in general, I’m not sure that any assumptions I’ve seen made are all that unfounded.

Here’s what I’ve seen assumed: at worst, the CBP officer blames journalists for some harassment and backlash he’s gotten over various issues (which I won’t go into here), and decided to take out his frustration by abusing his power in order to annoy and inconvenience a journalist—one who probably didn’t write negative stories about the CBP in the recent past—by delaying his reentry into the country by repeatedly asking if he was a propagandist until getting what he saw as a favorable answer. Another person might say that he wasn’t blaming the journalist for recent backlash but expressing a general view about journalists in general, or was a rightwinger who felt journalists spew out leftist propaganda (that last bit would be a bit of a leap to judgement).

Perhaps the officer didn’t realize it was an abuse of power. Maybe his intent was somewhat more benign. However, the facts as we know them lend themselves to reasonable assumptions that put his actions here in a negative light.

I generally follow Hanlon’s Razor: don’t assume malicious intent where incompetence will suffice as an explanation (I’m paraphrasing). However, in this case, I don’t see how incompetence would explain asking that question four times, nor would it change my ultimate conclusions.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

"However, you clearly did “immediately assume” the writer was not a credible source, at least at first."

Actually I didn’t immediately assume anything. I just read the dialogue that was posted, nothing else. And in contrast to what was being attributed to the actions of the officer, offered an alternative possibility. I freely admit it was not based on evidence because I obviously have none based on what’s written here. And there is no evidence that the officer abused his authority. Any conclusions based on either of these people’s action is based on conjecture here. I have no idea what evidence is available for either party to stand on. Do you?>

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

"However, you clearly did “immediately assume” the writer was not a credible source, at least at first."
Actually I didn’t immediately assume anything. I just read the dialogue that was posted, nothing else.

Read all the quotes I wrote earlier. You clearly made an assumption about the credibility of journalists, even if you no longer feel that way. What is your explanation for your choice of words if not a reflection of anti-journalist or pro-LEO bias? And don’t say it was just “offering possibilities”, because in contrast to your language regarding the officer, your language in these quotes wasn’t couched in language suggesting hypotheticals or possibilities.

And in contrast to what was being attributed to the actions of the officer, offered an alternative possibility.

We have already countered that alternative possibility as 1) implausible based purely on the text and 2) irrelevant to our analyses or conclusions. You have yet to respond to our counterarguments or provide a more reasonable alternative possibility. Additionally, we do not have to account for every single possibility, no matter how implausible.

I freely admit it was not based on evidence because I obviously have none based on what’s written here. And there is no evidence that the officer abused his authority. Any conclusions based on either of these people’s action is based on conjecture here.

Again, read my post. Tell me what in my explanation of the facts was conjecture rather than stated in the text. To many of us, the text standing on its own is evidence that the officer abused his authority, no additional context or conjecture required. We have explained exactly why that is.

The officer was holding Watson’s passport, preventing him from continuing on. While questioning him, as is standard, the officer asked for Watson’s occupation. Watson told him he was a journalist, at which point the officer asked the same rude, irrelevant, unprofessional question four times. Immediately after the question was answered a fourth time, the officer said, “Here you go,” and handed the passport over to Watson, letting him move on.

Based on this sequence of events, the officer unnecessarily and unprofessionally delayed Watson’s reentry into the country. Watson could not leave until the officer returned his passport, which didn’t happen until immediately after the fourth answer to the same question. Whatever the officer’s intent or tone, this was almost certainly an abuse of power in creating unnecessary delay for someone who, at that point, the officer clearly knew or should have known had no reason to be delayed any further based on the fact that no additional information was gathered between the question about his occupation and Watson being allowed to continue. Furthermore, the nature of the question along with its being timed immediately after learning that Watson is a journalist imply (and this could be called a conjecture, but it’s supported by some strong circumstantial evidence) that it was the fact that Watson was a journalist that prompted the unprofessional conduct that followed. This implications supports, but is not necessary to prove, that the officer was abusing his power.

I have no idea what evidence is available for either party to stand on. Do you?

I don’t know if these conversations are recorded or not. As of right now, the only evidence is what Watson said. Since we have no reason to disbelieve Watson here, neither the officer nor the CBP have disputed anything here, and the CBP have already apologized for a similar incident, no additional evidence is needed to assume that he is telling the truth for now, especially since the officer wasn’t identified by name or anything. Unless Watson’s account is directly contradicted, I can’t think of any interpretation of the facts he presented that would change my conclusions.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

It is an abuse of power and authority. No matter how “small” that abuse seems, we should acknowledge it as a real abuse and ask the government to prevent it from happening again. Also:

It’s merely typical of the kneejerk anti authority sentiment found often on this board.

If you’re not questioning authority, I have to wonder what your’re doing for it.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yeah, you question the actual authority and the sources of it. Not individual civil servants in the face of only the remarks of a snotty little punk looking for a story and a name for himself. Journalists are actually the power and THEY should be questioned. They can and have ruined lives.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Not individual civil servants in the face of only the remarks of a snotty little punk looking for a story and a name for himself.

Two things.

  1. Yes, you absolutely question the authority of individual civil servants. They choose how to use their authority and power; they should be held accountable for it.
  2. How do you know, with the absolute certainty of God Herself, that the journalist is “a snotty little punk looking for a story and a name for himself” — and that your obvious bias against journalists (assumedly of all types) isn’t clouding your judgment?

Journalists are actually the power and THEY should be questioned. They can and have ruined lives.

Individual police officers have ended lives. They should be questioned, they should be held accountable, they should have responsibility for their actions foisted upon them. That said: Journalists can (and have) ruined lives, yes. And I agree that no one should take their journalistic authority as absolute or refuse to question it. But how many journalists are directly and personally responsible for the death of another person in the same way that Amber Guyger is responsible for the death of Botham Jean — and if you can name any such journalists, how many of them killed people only by doing acts of journalism?

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I don’t know with absolute certainty. And that is part of my point. Those who are vilifying this officer don’t know the facts with certainty. Yes, law enforcement officers should be held responsible for misconduct. The way we hold them responsible is by conducting investigations and weighing evidence, not by hanging them from a proverbial yard arm based on the musings of an individual with the power to widely publish their opinions. And from what I see, nothing much more than opinion.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

Those who are vilifying this officer don’t know the facts with certainty.

Yet you’re willing to villify a journalist without knowing all the facts yourself.

I’m more than willing to say I’m wrong if I’m wrong. But given the history of law enforcement officials abusing their authority (up to and including the killing of people) and no similar history of journalists abusing their “authority” in the same (or similar) ways, I’ll take the word of a journalist over the word of a federal agent more often than not.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

There are many important people in power who don’t like to be "questioned" by authority and that can cause an overreaction. Could very well be the case here.

Except, by your own words, you think the journalist isn’t an “important [person] in power”, but “an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about”. But even if that second assertion were true (and you have absolutely no evidence that it is), that doesn’t justify or excuse the behavior of the officer. We entrust LEOs with a large amount of power and authority; we should hold them to a higher standard than we do journalists.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

How does their authority to possibly take a life under certain conditions relate to this particular situation? Similarly, I haven’t seen any posts from you acknowledging the tremendous responsibility they carry, the extremely difficult jobs they do daily, and the fact that data indicate that the vast majority perform their duties consistent with the laws.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13

I acknowledge the responsibility of LEOs, or at least the one society gives them due to their job. But with that great responsibility comes great power, and within that power is the privilege to legally kill another human being. (Yes, that privilege has limits, but stick with me.) Journalists do not have that privilege, or any similar privilege, as part of their job; they are, in that regard, less powerful than a LEO.

A journalist’s words can have exceptional weight. They can topple the powerful, save the powerless, shine lights on (cast shadows upon) abuses, and generally alter society in many different ways. But a journalist’s words cannot, on their own, kill another person. They cannot, on their own, commit abuses of power that involve, for example, determining whether a legal citizen of the United States can reënter the country after traveling abroad. The responsibilities, the authority, and the powers we grant to journalists are nowhere near the same as those entrusted to LEOs.

We hold journalists to a less strict (but by no means non-existent) set of behavioral standards because we understand that their job, while vital, lacks the exact kinds of power and authority we give to LEOs. A journalist cannot, in the course of their job, legally kill or detain another person. A LEO can do both. Holding a journalist to the same standards of behavior as a cop, or believing the two professions are on equal levels of power and authority, makes no sense.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

While I agree with many of your points about the dynamics of the power/authority in both roles, I disagree that those dynamics necessarily relate to what happened here. If you are implying that because officers have the authority to use deadly force in Constitutionally permitted situations means that the officers behaviors in all situations must be held to a higher standard than everyone else, I don’t buy it. Officers are just a sampling of society at large. Our expectations of them given the task that we hand to them, given the abuse and disrespect they often suffer from members of society at large make them vulnerable to the same human transgressions as the rest of us. Border officers in particular are under extreme pressure right now and the reportage doesn’t generally support their roles. Indeed what I see is quite negative.

Look, all I’m saying here is that the border officer deserves the right to be heard before being vilified. I don’t know the journalist and really don’t hold any specific biases toward him or her. However, in reading between the lines of the dialogue posted above, I can see other possibilities including a potentially ego-bruised individual who is making more out of it than what occurred. Don’t know that, but it’s not out of the realm of what I see as possible. It wasn’t about insulting the journalist it was more about saying hey, here is another way to look at how this may have gone down. Obviously nobody here knows.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Re:

The idea that the journalist is just making it up is a claim based on absolutely nothing (unlike the idea that the officer was abusing his power, which is based on the text). If you’re going to assert the mere possibility that the journalist made it all up, then you’re going to need to provide some evidence that this journalist likely has some bias in this area. Otherwise, you’re just muddying the waters here.

Also, “the officer is under a lot of pressure” is no excuse. The officer has a lot of power and a lot of discretion as to when that power can be used, so yes, they must be held to a higher standard as to how and when use of that power is appropriate. It’s no different from expecting an electrician to know more about wiring homes and electrical safety than the average person and to not use that knowledge to injure or annoy their customers.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:16 Re:

Not implying he "made it all up." However I am leaving the possibility that there may embellishments and/or mitigating factors left out. This is a phenomena that is quite common in most disagreements/conflicts/incidents where there are two sides of a story, regardless of the parties involved.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:17

I am leaving the possibility that there may embellishments and/or mitigating factors left out.

Let’s assume the interaction generally happened like the journalist says — the officer asked the propagandist question four times and only let the journalist go after receiving the response said officer wanted — with only minor differences in what exactly was said. How, then, could the personality of the journalist or the mood of the officer or any other such factor ever mitigate what the officer did?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:17 Re:

Again, explain what possible mitigating factors could exist. As for embellishments, I don’t see how any embellishments could exist, and again, unless you have a specific part you feel is embellished and a reason for that, you’ll have to provide specific evidence of such, along with how that changes anything.

All you seem to be doing is trying to muddy the waters rather than add anything serious to this discussion.

Sure it’s possible there were embellishments or omissions, but it’s hard to see any that would substantially change anything, and if you’re disputing a journalist’s account of something, you need to be armed with more than just proposals of the possibility of embellishments and/or omissions being in the account without evidence or specificity. The burden of proof is on you if you want additional discussion on those lines.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15

I disagree that those dynamics necessarily relate to what happened here.

Whether you agree with the notion doesn’t change that those dynamics do relate to what happened.

If you are implying that because officers have the authority to use deadly force in Constitutionally permitted situations means that the officers behaviors in all situations must be held to a higher standard than everyone else, I don’t buy it.

LEOs have more power and authority beyond that legal privilege. They can legally arrest people, detain people, and do plenty of other things that will fuck up a person’s day in an instant. A journalist that tried to detain or arrest someone would themselves be arrested for kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment.

Our expectations of them given the task that we hand to them, given the abuse and disrespect they often suffer from members of society at large make them vulnerable to the same human transgressions as the rest of us.

Given the power and authority we entrust to LEOs, they should have (and be held to) higher standards of behavior. A LEO who can, for example, be provoked into violence by someone else saying mean things is a LEO that doesn’t deserve their job.

Border officers in particular are under extreme pressure right now and the reportage doesn’t generally support their roles. Indeed what I see is quite negative.

That does not, and should not, excuse CBP officers from any abuse of their power and authority. Again: If someone is that thin-skinned over people saying mean things about their job, they need to find a new job.

I’m saying here is that the border officer deserves the right to be heard before being vilified.

Simple question: If the CBP officer was being jocular with the journalist when they asked the propagandist question the first time, why did the officer ask the same question three more times? That isn’t comedy. That reads like an attempt to intimidate someone, implicitly though it may be.

in reading between the lines of the dialogue posted above, I can see other possibilities including a potentially ego-bruised individual who is making more out of it than what occurred

Even if the journalist’s ego was bruised, how does/should that excuse the actions of that CBP officer?

It wasn’t about insulting the journalist it was more about saying hey, here is another way to look at how this may have gone down.

And if you had phrased your initial post in a way that showed you were “hypothesizing” the whole time, I might believe you. But you didn’t. Which means your saying “I was just hypothesizing” comes off as the “I was just joking” kind of “backsies” defense offered by people who say racist/sexist/homophobic bullshit and have to backtrack when people call the asshole out on it.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:16 Re:

Not excusing the actions of the CBP officer but leaving room for misinterpretations.

Simple question: If the CBP officer was being jocular with the journalist when they asked the propagandist question the first time, why did the officer ask the same question three more times? That isn’t comedy. That reads like an attempt to intimidate someone, implicitly though it may be.

Maybe, maybe not. I just don’t know what he said or how he said, or what else was going on at the time. This is why they have investigations and why they have competent people analyze the facts and draw conclusions. I never support drawing hard conclusions based on the contents of a news article. There are so many possible variables.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:17

Not excusing the actions of the CBP officer but leaving room for misinterpretations.

And in doing so, you sound as if anything the journalist did or said excuses what the officer did — i.e., you sound like you’re blaming the victim.

I just don’t know what he said or how he said, or what else was going on at the time.

The officer asked the question once and received a response. That the officer asked it three more times before letting the journalist go, and only after the officer received the response they wanted (or a form of it, anyway), tells me they knew what exactly they were doing. And they weren’t trying to make the journalist laugh.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:17 Re:

I just don’t know what he said or how he said, or what else was going on at the time. This is why they have investigations and why they have competent people analyze the facts and draw conclusions. I never support drawing hard conclusions based on the contents of a news article. There are so many possible variables.

Well, we have reasonable grounds to assume we do know what he said. Furthermore, I cannot see any scenario (how he said what was said or what else was going on at the time) or any possible variables that would change the conclusions I’ve drawn based on the facts we have. If you want us to soften our conclusions, you’re going to need an alternative explanation that both fits the facts as we know them (or have supporting evidence behind it) and would change the final conclusions we’ve drawn.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

End of the world, as in making this into an abuse of power issue. And also making it newsworthy I might add. I don’t see it as an abuse of power I see it as an act of unprofessionalism. And while I know nothing about this journalist, the fact that he has promoted this as news and made such hay of it gives me a hint. Like I said, he said, he said. I don’t see anything in the article that indicates the officer admitted to anything or that an investigation had been completed. Either way, all we are left with to make a judgement on is what is reported. If the officer detained the individual without cause he abused his power. But I don’t see evidence of that.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

I don’t see it as an abuse of power I see it as an act of unprofessionalism

Unprofessionalism can turn into abuse. Excusing either one means letting it become the norm instead of the outlier.

If the officer detained the individual without cause he abused his power. But I don’t see evidence of that.

The officer forced the journalist to answer an “unprofessional” (at best) question in the affirmative before he could leave. That sounds like detainment to me.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"Unprofessionalism can turn into abuse. Excusing either one means letting it become the norm instead of the outlier."

Acknowledging that most if not all people say things or do things that can be labeled unprofessional doesn’t equal an excuse. And I haven’t excused it. That said, do you have any evidence that all unprofessional words or actions turn into abuse or that it even increases the likelihood of it? That would be quite a study if you can cite one.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

do you have any evidence that all unprofessional words or actions turn into abuse or that it even increases the likelihood of it?

Yes, I do: The history of LEOs who abused their power and authority. Far more often than not, that abuse evolved from unprofessional behavior — it didn’t just happen out of nowhere. When people grow used to the idea that their unprofessional (and potentially criminal) behavior won’t be punished, they grow emboldened to keep doing what they’re doing.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Yet you didn’t post any evidence of this claim. It’s just your opinion. Unprofessionalism covers a broad spectrum of behaviors some of which are subjective and occurs every day. I don’t see evidence that in itself leads to someone behaving criminally. Criminals are criminals. If he’s a criminal then let it be proven. The stats on Customs officers who have been convicted of crimes of abuses of power on the job is not a high number compared to those who have not. Same goes for cops.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Unprofessionalism covers a broad spectrum of behaviors some of which are subjective and occurs every day. I don’t see evidence that in itself leads to someone behaving criminally.

Correlation doesn’t equal causation, true. But given human nature, any negative behavior that goes unpunished — or is explicitly approved of — by people in power becomes much more likely to repeat. When people feel emboldened by that, they’re more likely to push the limits of how far they can go before they cross a line they shouldn’t have.

Think about it this way: If a White person uses the N-word at work and no one acts either surprised or perturbed, that person will think they can say the N-word with impunity. They’ll think they’re safe from punishment. And with that line of thinking comes a perverse form of bravery, wherein the person will use more slurs and say more racist language until/unless someone stops them with a hefty punishment.

Bad behavior becomes reïnforced behavior through a lack of negative consequences. Yes, journalists aren’t immune to this principle. But by the same token, neither are LEOs; with the power they have, their bad behavior is far more likely to have much harsher negative consequences for themselves and for others. That is why we hold them to a higher standard of behavior than a great many other professions — including journalism.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

I have a feeling that you, bhull and I agree on much more than on that which we disagree. But I have great respect for our front line troops in the military on the border, and in our cities and towns who go to work each day to protect our freedoms. And whenever I turn around I see them being "attacked" over alleged incidents with few if any facts being presented. The comments on this forum are often particularly critical of them before all evidence is in. Are there bad apples? Absolutely but they are the exception not the rule. We are tasking these people with tremendous responsibility and offering very little support. That said, those who abuse their power don’t deserve to serve in that capacity and should be held accountable.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

I have great respect for our front line troops in the military on the border, and in our cities and towns

Yeah, uh…you might wanna rephrase that, because it sounds like you think law enforcement is part of the military — and, by extension, that regular citizens are potential “enemy combatants”. That sort of thinking is not a good look, for you or for LEOs.

whenever I turn around I see them being "attacked" over alleged incidents with few if any facts being presented

Tough shit.

The comments on this forum are often particularly critical of them before all evidence is in.

Gee, I wonder if there’s a reason for that~.

Are there bad apples? Absolutely but they are the exception not the rule.

Like I mentioned above, the old saying goes: “A few bad apples spoils the entire bunch.” Any law enforcement agency or department that accepts, allows, or even ignores misbehavior and abuses of authority by its agents/officers isn’t making “bad apples” the exception — it’s making them the rule. (The same goes for police unions that try to excuse away and defend any abuse of authority and power by cops no matter the circumstances.)

We are tasking these people with tremendous responsibility and offering very little support.

When police departments do better, people will think better of them. But with the increasing militarization of police departments, prosecutors generally refusing to prosecute “bad” cops, and “good” cops failing (or refusing) to clean up their own departments, that time isn’t coming any time soon.

(And that’s all before we get into the racist history of policing in the United States, starting with its “slave patrols” foundation.)

That said, those who abuse their power don’t deserve to serve in that capacity and should be held accountable.

At least you finally fucking said it. ????

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

"Yeah, uh…you might wanna rephrase that, because it sounds like you think law enforcement is part of the military — and, by extension, that regular citizens are potential “enemy combatants”. That sort of thinking is not a good look, for you or for LEOs."

I really don’t want to rephrase it. The word troop, while often used in a military context is perfectly appropriate to describe civilians on the border and in our police forces. If you assume all that you assumed, that’s your problem not mine.

"Like I mentioned above, the old saying goes: “A few bad apples spoils the entire bunch.” Any law enforcement agency or department that accepts, allows, or even ignores misbehavior and abuses of authority by its agents/officers isn’t making “bad apples” the exception — it’s making them the rule. (The same goes for police unions that try to excuse away and defend any abuse of authority and power by cops no matter the circumstances.)"

While perception can have a huge influence on how the public sees those agencies, there is a marked difference between accepting/allowing bad apples and making serious decisions on how to handle various aspects of misconduct based on evidence and other factors. You may not like the way some of those incidents are handled but the reality is that employers have to be driven by evidence and facts and not feelings. Unions are a different topic but they exist to represent the membership. We can probably agree that there are cases where they try to excuse bad behavior among their members.

"At least you finally fucking said it"

Contrary to what you seemingly believe, not saying everything in the manner in which you want to hear it, does not amount to not subscribing to the philosophy in question. While I may not have may that general statement, I’ve repeatedly said and/or implied that this officer should be held accountable if he did something wrong.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

I can honestly say that I have never heard or seen anyone refer to civilians on the border or in law enforcement as “troops” before. I think you are misusing that term, which does refer primarily if not exclusively to members of our military. No one who hears the phrase “respect our troops” ever thinks of anyone but the military when they hear that.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

And he didn’t just describe them as troops, but "front line troops".

"Front line: the position(s) closest to the area of conflict of an armed force’s personnel and equipment… When a front (an intentional or unintentional boundary) between opposing sides form, the front line is the area where the armies are engaged in conflict, especially the line of contact between the opposing forces."

If police are "front line troops" then where is the front line, and who is the opposing force they are facing? It’s quite a telling turn of phrase I think, though probably unintentionally so.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"The officer forced the journalist to answer an “unprofessional” (at best) question in the affirmative before he could leave. That sounds like detainment to me."

Hmm. Not so sure about that. As I said earlier, even if he said this I am not so sure to assume he wasn’t saying it whilst the guy was being processed through. You read quite a lot into the textual recall of the conversation posted above. Like I said, I could also read it as a uptight VIP pissed at being questioned or joked with. You could be absolutely correct but neither of us were there so you saying things like "the officer forced…" is just as presumptive. If the officer actually forced someone to do something or impeded him until he said something he ordered him to say then discipline is in order. I’m just not willing to go there based on what’s posted above. I’m not vilifying the journalist just offering possible alternate scenarios, but I’m also not vilifying the officer. In most situations such as this there are three stories. One person’s story, the other person’s story, and the truth.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

even if he said this I am not so sure to assume he wasn’t saying it whilst the guy was being processed through.

Which is basically the whole point here: Even if that were the case, the journalist’s job generally has nothing to do with his right to return to the country, and whatever issue the officer has with journalism doesn’t justify their holding up that processing for even a moment.

You could be absolutely correct but neither of us were there so you saying things like "the officer forced…" is just as presumptive.

When an LEO asks the same irrelevant question four times before allowing the questioned person to go about their business — and doing so only after the questioned person answers in the affirmative — that sounds to me like an officer forcing the person to do something. Whatever that sounds like to you is your issue.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Says the same guy who referred to the journalist as “an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about”, “a thin skinned pompous ass”, and a “bozo” without any evidence that he is any of those things. Double standards: Ain’t they great?¹


¹ — No. No, they are not.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Again, just as likely a scenario as the one being painted about the officer. It’s obvious that none of us were there but my point was that there are two versions here and we are getting only one. It’s just as likely this guy could be embellishing because his ego was bruised as it is the officer abused his authority. I freely admit, this writer could be a great guy. My point was that a reader can make inferences about either of these people but the majority of comments on this board usually vilify the civil servants. And the stats just don’t back up your reasoning for doing that.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

just as likely a scenario as the one being painted about the officer

Except, if you’ve happened to notice, there isn’t much namecalling of the officer going on in my comments. Any criticism of the officer is mostly (if not entirely) limited to their actions as described by the journalists. You, on the other hand, assume the motive and personality of the journalist based only on an anti-journalism bias.

My point was that a reader can make inferences about either of these people but the majority of comments on this board usually vilify the civil servants.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: LEOs have a history, long and unsavory and documented, of abusing their power and authority in ways that directly harm or even kill other people. Journalists, by and large, do not. Any anti-LEO bias is based on that history, which — along with bullshit like police unions blindly defending LEOs who abuse that authority — goes a long way towards making me mistrust what they say by default.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Everyone is biased and blindly defending people except you. As for anti LEO sentiment being based on history, that is what you claim. Using your own analogy, that’s like a racist who attributes negative behaviors of members of a given race to all those in the race. It’s also more often than not that the underlying sentiment is that a person just doesn’t like authority for a number of possible reasons and will look for any way they can to condemn them.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

As for anti LEO sentiment being based on history, that is what you claim. Using your own analogy, that’s like a racist who attributes negative behaviors of members of a given race to all those in the race.

Except no, it isn’t. A racist’s attitudes are centered in an irrational hatred of people of a different race/ethnicity. Anti-LEO sentiment is based on the well-documented history of LEOs exhibiting bad behavior, both on- and off-duty, and having their behavior either ignored, defended/justified, or even explicitly allowed by other LEOs (including their bosses). The saying “a few bad apples spoil the bunch” comes to mind in that regard: If the “good” cops are upset that the “bad” cops are making all cops look bad, the “good” cops should do more to call that behavior to light and push the “bad” cops off the job.

In other words: A person can stop being an LEO, but they can’t stop being their given race/ethnicity. To hate a person based on race is irrational; you can’t justify it with any meaningful rationale beyond “they don’t look like me”. To hate a LEO based on the history of “bad” cops having their bad behavior defended and justified by both their fellow cops and society in general is not only rational, it’s fully justified.

It’s also more often than not that the underlying sentiment is that a person just doesn’t like authority for a number of possible reasons and will look for any way they can to condemn them.

Huh. Almost as if people in authority make mistakes and bad decisions (intentionally or not), which means they shouldn’t ever be fully trusted with the power they have~. Imagine that~.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

"A racist’s attitudes are centered in an irrational hatred of people of a different race/ethnicity"

I get this. I was speaking more to the generalization aspect of the analogy. I was not equating bias of cops to true racism.We disagree that anti LEO sentiments can be (rationally) justified based on the data involving LEO abuse of authority because, relatively speaking, it’s not epidemic. However, I do understand that those who have had bad experiences could have biases, no doubt. But I would argue that generalizations stemming from it are not rationally based.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

If I hear of police officers around the country abusing their authority in ways that harm regular citizens — up to and including instances of violence, lethal or otherwise — I’m bound to view the police and their authority with skepticism. When I hear of a police officer murdering someone with a chokehold the officer weren’t supposed to be using because the deceased was selling open cigarettes on the street, and damn near every system of accountability seems to exonerate the officer of any wrongdoing, I’m bound to view the police (and all related law enforcement agencies) in an even worse light.

The bad behavior may not be an epidemic. (Jury’s still out on that.) But it still exists, and you do yourself a disservice if you ignore it entirely.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

But if you’re reaching all those conclusions based on a newspaper article and not based on the facts presented to the Judge and/or Jury then your beliefs are your problem. I’m not ignoring it entirely, but you seem to be implying that developing strong biases about law enforcement based solely on observations you make from media reportage is inevitable. It’s not. To be truly informed about complex social issues takes more than casual media observations. If you’re one of the naive fools who believes that a time will come where there will be no cops who misbehave on the job, then I don’t know what to do for you. But if you think cop hating is justified because of those bad cops, then I guess you believe prejudice is justified. Dont get me wrong, we all prejudge to a certain degree but to imply it’s a good thing or inevitable is ludicrous.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

But if you’re reaching all those conclusions based on a newspaper article and not based on the facts presented to the Judge and/or Jury then your beliefs are your problem.

And in the cases of cops that break the law and abuse their authority but aren’t prosecuted for doing so, what am I supposed to do then, hmm?

you seem to be implying that developing strong biases about law enforcement based solely on observations you make from media reportage is inevitable

Yes, this is true — like Thanos, such biases are…inevitable.

We don’t, and can’t, watch media in a vacuum, separated from society and our own ways of thinking. When you hear of cops abusing their power and authority but rarely being held accountable because prosecutors are too chickenshit to go after cops or the courts gave cops qualified immunity or whatever other reason exists, that notion isn’t going to just disappear into the ether. It will be on your mind the next time you see a cop car behind you, or maybe when you have reason to ask the cops for a wellness check on a neighbor. To argue that it won’t, that you can put all that information in the back of your head and lock it away and maintain some form of objectivity, is a bullshit argument. Don’t make it.

If you’re one of the naive fools who believes that a time will come where there will be no cops who misbehave on the job

I’m not. By the same token, if you’re one of the naïve fools who believes that “good” cops will always push out “bad” cops at every possible opportunity, I don’t know what I can do for you…or what you can do for yourself.

if you think cop hating is justified because of those bad cops, then I guess you believe prejudice is justified.

My prejudice is justified by people like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Rodney King, and the Central Park Five. My prejudice is justified by cases where cops hurt innocent people based on flimsy bullshit “tips”. My prejudice is justified by every cop that ever planted or falsified evidence, snagged a warrant based on bullshit, coerced a false confession from an innocent person, and otherwise abused their authority in ways that make clear they shouldn’t have it. If you think none of that should make me at least mildly mistrustful of law enforcement — or authority of any type, really — that is your problem, not mine.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Text doesn’t convey tone or intent.

It doesn’t usually convey it well, but it can convey tone in some cases.

Even if you disagree with the officer’s sarcastic commentary; commentary which was probably made in a jocular context to a person who takes himself far too seriously (not uncommon for many so-called journalists).

In this case, saying it was a joke or sarcasm might have been convincing if the agent only asked that question once, maybe even twice. However, that doesn’t explain why he asked that question four times.

Also, why would you expect a conversation with a CBP agent regarding entry with a passport to be a jocular context, especially if, as you say, the journalist takes himself far too seriously.

But aside from your assumptions, you clearly have no idea how much "power" an individual uniformed US Customs officer wields. If you did, you would realize how overly dramatic your drivel really is.

He has the power to at least temporarily delay or deny entry and, at least temporarily, confiscate a passport. At the very least, he can prolong questioning, which in effect delays entry. It takes time to get someone higher up to overrule that officer. This power isn’t nothing.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The powers you ascribe to this person are good only with 1) legal cause which must be articulated to a supervisory officer and 2) the notification of other employees. No evidence here in this story that any abuses of power took place. Just a story from some guy claiming the officer said some things he didn’t like.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Again, you seem to be missing the point. Are there remedies to abuses of or limits on these powers by the officer? Yes. However, sometimes it’s just easier not to fight too much by calling a supervisor or something as that would only create further delay.

The powers I’m ascribing to the officer are specifically to question someone attempting to enter and to check their passport, which leads to the de facto ability to, at least temporarily, hold on to the passport and delay entry by prolonging the questioning by, say, asking the same irrelevant question over and over again.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Not only is there no evidence that he asked the question or asked the questions with seriousness, there is also no evidence here that it delayed anything. I’m all for many of the civil libertarian arguments that have been made about abuses of power, but they have been made against a hypothetical backdrop. There is little to no evidence that this officer did anything. Even based on prima facie content he’s guilty of acting slightly unprofessionally and this doesn’t amount to anything close to an abuse of power in my opinion. These people are human and they make human mistakes. While their overall conduct must be held to a higher standard than the (very low) standards to which average residents of this country are held, attempts to dehumanize them are ludicrous and are often just shields that anti-authority and anarchist types hide behind.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

The officer’s intent isn’t relevant at all because the question itself didn’t (and still doesn’t, and will never) have any relevance to whether the journalist can come back into the country. On top of that, the CBP officer had no official reason to ask it, and they didn’t ask it in a comedic situation. That officer could have waited until after he left work and railed against propagandists on his own free time. Doing it on the job, with no official reason for doing it and regardless of intent, doesn’t make him a comedian — it makes him someone who is unprofessional enough to delay someone’s return to the country by even a moment based on that someone’s profession. I don’t know about you, but the idea of a CBP officer having even the slightest bit of power to detain someone only because that officer dislikes that someone’s job sounds unacceptable to me.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Not only is there no evidence that he asked the question

For the purposes of this argument, we assume the allegations are true unless you give a good reason to disbelieve them. Your presumption that all journalists have an anti-authority bias is not a good reason.

or asked the question with seriousness,

Irrelevant. The officer’s intent in asking doesn’t make it not an abuse of power, nor does it change the effects it had. Plus, the idea it was not meant seriously lost credibility after it was asked four times.

there is also no evidence that it delayed anything.

Asking and answering a question takes time, which is necessarily a delay unless the people involved were moving or multitasking, which is highly unlikely in this context. This was a question that shouldn’t have been asked once, let alone four times, making any time it took to ask and answer it each time an unnecessary delay. Note that the journalist made it clear he was not free to continue until after the fourth time he answered that question.

I’m all for many of the civil libertarian arguments that have been made about abuses of power,

Your previous comments make me highly doubtful of this unless you personally disagree with the political views of the alleged abuser.

but they have been made against a hypothetical backdrop.

Okay Hypothetical: you are a journalist for an organization not generally accused of bias. You are attempting to reenter the country after spending time abroad. As is reasonable and customary, you must first speak with a CBP officer who will ask you questions and verify your passport before you’re allowed entry into the country. After they learn that you’re a journalist, they ask, “So you’re a propagandist, right?” You answer in the negative, at which point they ask the same question three more times until you give a different answer. You are not free to continue on into the country until the questioning is over and your passport is returned to you, which doesn’t happen until after your fourth answer to that same question. As far as the officer knows, you may have someplace you need to be very soon. Is that an abuse of power?

Even based on prima facie content he’s guilty of acting slightly unprofessionally and this doesn’t amount to anything close to an abuse of power in my opinion.

Then we must be disagreeing on what constitutes an abuse of power, because I can’t see how this doesn’t at least come close to an abuse of power. For the record, there is such a thing as a minor abuse of power.

These people are human and they make human mistakes.

And those mistakes may lead to an abuse of power.

While their overall conduct must be held to a higher standard than the (very low) standards to which average residents of this country are held,

I agree with that, but you don’t seem to be doing that. You seem to be holding the journalist to a higher standard than the officer in this situation.

attempts to dehumanize them are ludicrous and are often just shields that anti-authority and anarchist types hide behind.

Please explain how I have in any way dehumanized the officer.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"Please explain how I have in any way dehumanized the officer."

No time or interest in carrying this on further except to say the above was necessarily directed at you. It is more a general comment regarding many of the comments here which tend to hold law officers to a standard of behavior that goes far above the standard for the general population.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

No time or interest in carrying this on further except to say the above was necessarily directed at you.

I assume you meant to say, “the above was not necessarily directed at you.” Given that it was in a comment you wrote in response to what I said, you’ll have to forgive my apparently mistaken assumption that you were addressing me.

It is more a general comment regarding many of the comments here which tend to hold law officers to a standard of behavior that goes far above the standard for the general population.

Law officers should be held to a standard of behavior that goes far above the standard for the general population. They have a large amount of power over the general population, and with great power comes great responsibility and greater scrutiny.

Also, how exactly does that “dehumanize” law officers?

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"Your presumption that all journalists have an anti-authority bias is not a good reason."

I don’t presume this nor an I presuming that is the case here. I am offering it as a possibility. journalists have biases just like all of us. What makes a difference is knowing what our biases are and deploying countermeasures for them. But your willingness to just swallow it all as presented probably says something about your own biases. And the fact that you use phrases like bootlicker make that more likely in my view.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

I am offering it as a possibility.

And given how you excoriated the journalist as (and I quote) “an uptight loser with authority issues looking for something to bitch about”, your offering it as a possibility comes loaded with an anti-journalism bias. I can admit that I have a bias against law enforcement (albeit one backed up with a long, long history of LEOs abusing their power and authority in ways that have directly harmed or even killed people). How much courage can you summon to admit your anti-journalism bias?

your willingness to just swallow it all as presented probably says something about your own biases

Your willingness to excuse it all away when presented with the journalist’s account says something about your own biases — and it sounds awfully similar to what I just said.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

I absolutely do not have an anti journalism bias. When they actually do their jobs they are society’s only way of keeping the immense power of the government, multinational corporations, and other power in check. However, there is also a more recent history of much journalism being absorbed by the same multinational corporate interests they are supposed to be keeping in check leading to inherent conflicts of interest. There also seems to be an increase in journalists who bring their own biases and feelings into their journalism. That’s fine if they are offering opinion. Not fine if it’s supposed to be news. I try to look at news critically and attempt to verify what is being put out through other sources. In this case, the journalists version was put out there before adjudication by the person involved (not an independent journalist) and comments have been largely against the officer. I read the text and saw other possibilities which gave me pause. I don’t think that’s bias against journalists. I think perhaps your political attachments push you to label everyone who disagrees with you as biased against journalists because it fits a political narrative you may wish to advance. I would feel better about the motivation of the reporter if this story was put out after the case was adjudicated and by a third party.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

an increase in journalists who bring their own biases and feelings into their journalism

Ah, you’re one of those naïve fools who believes “unbiased journalism” can ever be a thing. I hate to break this to you and shatter your worldview, but “unbiased journalism” can never be a thing. Someone must decide what to publish, what to distill out of the mass of available data, and what facts to check. That bias will always exist. Good journalists acknowledge their biases and work to mitigate them; bad journalists either don’t acknowledge their biases or acknowledge them but do nothing to mitigate them.

I read the text and saw other possibilities which gave me pause. I don’t think that’s bias against journalists.

No, all the insults you lobbed in the journalist’s direction for no reason other than you could reeks of an anti-journalism bias. You could have offered your “hypothesizing” without all that; by instead filling your initial post with those insults, you made everyone think — correctly or not — that you have a problem with all journalists. You made a bad decision, and you’re now facing the (social) consequences of that decision. If’n you don’t like that, door’s to your left.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

"You made a bad decision, and you’re now facing the (social) consequences of that decision. If’n you don’t like that, door’s to your left."

I agree it was poorly worded and framed. The goal was definitely to get attention in effort to show that there is more than one way to view this, as in their are numerous ways to to interpret the dialogue in a Shakespearean play. I was laying in bed with a stomach bug, saw the anti officer stuff and just started typing in a bit of a brain fog. Yeah, I should have framed it better.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

"Your presumption that all journalists have an anti-authority bias is not a good reason."
I don’t presume this nor a[m] I presuming that is the case here. I am offering it as a possibility.

As I note in this comment, your choice of language when referring to the journalist and what he had to say gives us good reason to believe that you are presuming that. You also mentioned being aware of one’s own biases and deploying countermeasures to them. It seems to me you were late in deploying countermeasures against your own apparent bias against journalists.

[J]ournalists have biases just like all of us.

Absolutely. But whether they as a group or as individuals have the specific bias you seemed to claim they have, and to what extent those biases pop up in their journalism, are debatable.

But your willingness to just swallow it all as presented probably says something about your own biases.

You are mistaken about a lot of things.

Before I “swallow it all as presented”, I do some filtering. First, before actually reading a story/watching a newscast (beyond a headline or topic summary), I generally have a three-part analysis of identifying bias on the part of the source: if the source is known to be biased (Breitbart, Polygon, or Fox News for example), I generally presume some bias unless I have reason to believe that the specific journalist has a history of going against that bias (e.g. Shep Smith); otherwise, if I can identify the specific journalist and that journalist has a known history of bias, then I presume bias is in the story itself. After identifying the source and the writer, if certain biases are assumed but the story seems to go against those biases or is unrelated to those biases, I largely waive the presumption. If no bias is presumed but the headline says something that seems biased, then I take the rest with a grain of salt. Even if I presume bias, I may still continue to read if the presumption isn’t terribly strong. After going through the bias filter, I’ll make a determination as to whether the story is believable. I also determine just how believable/unbelievable the story is in part based on the evidence I’d need to change my mind. This analysis starts from the headline/summary and continues as I read through. There is a threshold where, if something gets too unbelievable, I’ll stop reading, but that’s a very high threshold. When I finish reading, I make a final determination about how believable/unbelievable the story is, where the burden of proof lies, how high that burden of proof is, and what further research may be necessary. I also determine what effect the information would have if I presume one way or the other. Only then do I truly make an assumption on whether it’s true, plausible, possible, implausible, false, impossible, or undecided, which is almost always subject to change if additional information comes to light should that new info change anything substantial.

A lot of this is subjective, but it helps reduce the impact my biases have on my research, and I almost always leave room for me to change my mind. I’m actually rather slow to pass judgment.

Also, you seem to be confusing my actually believing something and when I accept something as true for the sake of argument. Note what I actually said (emphasis added):

For the purposes of this argument, we assume the allegations are true unless you give a good reason to disbelieve them.

While I find the allegations plausible at this point in time, what I was saying is that, in an argument, I accept the allegations as true (unless they are implausible or are contradicted by other evidence) in order to discuss them on their own merits, even if I personally doubt their accuracy or believe there’s more to the story. Occasionally, I will even pretend something is true even if I know it’s false for other reasons if in doing so I can refute the logic of the other person.

And the fact that you use phrases like bootlicker make that more likely in my view.

You must have me confused with someone else. I did a search of this page for the term “bootlicker” just now. Outside of this comment, I never used that specific term even in a quote. I did say this:

The fact that you immediately assume that any journalist who has anything negative to say about an authority figure, even one you don’t know, must be “smug”, “anti-authority”, and “pompous”, and that anyone outraged on their behalf must be “an eager cop hater” and a “sycophant”, shows what an ass-kissing asshole you are.

But that was a reference/response to you saying this…

Your unquestioned swallowing of whatever this smug anti authority so-called journalist bellows out of his pompous mouth shows what an eager cop hater you are.

…to an AC who did call you a bootlicker (again, that wasn’t me). It wasn’t meant to be taken as a serious insult. I’m not good at the whole name-calling thing, anyway. I was just calling out your hypocrisy for getting upset over being called names and others’ supposed biases and assumptions by pointing out some of the times you showed bias, made assumptions, and engaged in name-calling in a similar manner as you used. I apologize for the crass language—I try to avoid doing so—but I was trying to make a point.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Ok. I get it. I also apologize for any crass language. Truth is I’ve been feeling lousy most of the week and came to this party an irritable crab to begin with. Comment boards can range from generally childish to cerebral in tone, with a full range of contributions included in the mix. I gravitate to the more cerebral of the bunch because not only do I enjoy discussing opposing ideas, I learn a great deal from others. Unfortunately some of my recent contributions could appropriately be categorized closer to the childish end of the spectrum but I mean no harm. I’ve enjoyed the discussion and wish all parties well.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Apology accepted. As I said, I generally apply Hanlon’s Razor, and in this case, especially since your tone has notably changed, I’m willing to accept that you were just in a bad mood or something and posted angry. I wish that this could’ve come sooner, but I’m willing to let this go if you are. Hope things get better for you.

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John Snape (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nobody was detained, denied entry or turned away.

Doesn’t matter. Holding up someone’s legal travel for even a millisecond because of a personal issue with their job is an abuse of authority. It cannot be justified and it should not be excused.

A millisecond?

So if this CBP officer took a second or two to think about saying this, then decides not to and just waves the person through, you think that’s an "abuse of authority"?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So

otherwording (or in-other-wordsing) — noun — summarizing a point of argument in a way that distorts the point into saying something it does not and attributes the false interpretation to the person who raised the original point; a blatant attempt to make winning an argument easier for someone who is out of their depth in said argument

Example: You will often find the phrases “in other words” or “so you’re saying” at the beginning of an instance of otherwording.

See also: strawman; your post

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes, Stephen, you are right to point this out. And you are very clever, too. With a great vocabulary and grasp of important issues that sway other people in your direction all the time. I have read your posts for years, you are very convincing. Police are bad, Customs officials are bad. Even the slightest deviation from what you consider "right" should be met with condemnation. Your view and your view only is what matters. America is Racist! America is Sexist! America is Homophobic, Xenophobic, and worthy of condemnation! Repeatedly, and WITHOUT END! EVERY DAY! FOREVER! BADBADBADBAD!

Tell the truth, Stephen. You’re actually a slanty eyed Chinese Gook hell bent on taking over the world at the expense of normal Americans who like to shoot stop signs with high powered rifles as a relaxation and meditation technique, right? You want to take our guns, open our borders, abolish our police, and prisons, and border agents, right? YOU WANT TO DESTROY AMERICA, RIGHT, STEPHEN? RIGHT? RIGHT?!

Get over your globalist ways and come share a warm beer with a hillbilly in the Texas Panhandle. I’ll fix ya right up with a new point of view. Not Chinese, either. American! (Chinese suck, as do you)

MAGA!

bob says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:MAGA indeed

I agree Morons Are Governing America. The twit in chief is so full of lies and stupidity he incriminates himself almost daily. The only reason he won is because the dems were dumb enough to have Hilary be the candidate. Now unfortunately the USA is stuck with the consequences of putting a scam artist into a position of power and because of his bad behavior others like this CBP agent are following the bad example thinking it is okay.

I guess he never heard about of understood the Hatch act.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:MAGA indeed

You know, I think there is some truth to that. The Dems chose maybe the worst, more corrupt and unlikable candidate of all time, at least, of all candidates I have ever seen. A mean, bitter, fat, short old bitch with no taste in clothes that gave away her dignity (in public and in private) in return for power, short lived, and long regretted. Not a shred of decency or morality, Hillary would say or do anything to get what she wants, without regard to anyone or anything else. It’s really only in the shadow of her disgustingness that Trump finds any support at all. Who was Trump before Hillary? TV guy, little else. Now who is he? The most powerful man in the world. And the Dems did it, I agree.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Not a shred of decency or morality

Yeah, and Donald “grab ’em by the pussy” Trump — who pulled U.S. troops out of Syria and allowed both a potential genocide and a resurgence of ISIS to begin for literally no good reason, who approved the use of concentration camps for the indefinite detention of immigrants both legal and not, who routinely refers to people (especially women and black people) with pejoratives and insults while serving as the head of the United States — is an absolute bastion of decency and morality~.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Shiva can’t save you now bro

Sup hamilton. They finally let you out of the psych unit? Ain’t seen you since you crawled away on your belly like the worm you are. By the way your boy is pissing himself about impeachment, like he had those prostitutes piss on the bed.

So you identify as an inbred Texas hillbilly now instead of an effeminate Masshole. How very droll.

John Snape (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Interesting way of avoiding the question I asked.

If this CBP officer took a second or two to think about saying this, then decides not to and just waves the person through, you think that’s an "abuse of authority"?

You’re the one who said, "Holding up someone’s legal travel for even a millisecond because of a personal issue with their job is an abuse of authority." I just want to be sure that you really, truly believe such an absurd statement.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

It’s almost as if he takes all hyperbole seriously.

But just for shits ’n giggles, I’ll answer his question:

If this CBP officer took a second or two to think about saying this, then decides not to and just waves the person through, you think that’s an "abuse of authority"?

No, that’s called “making the right decision”.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Baloney

First of all, if you’re posting the same thing no less than 7 times in the same comment section, that is spam. If your comment doesn’t immediately get through, that doesn’t mean your comment has been blocked. You should wait at least 15 minutes (preferably longer) before trying again rather than 1-4 minutes. At any rate, I don’t want to hear any complaints about your comments being hidden or blocked in this case.

Second, I would like to point out that this particular journalist was asked no less than four times the exact same rude, irrelevant question before receiving his passport. That clearly implies that the agent wouldn’t get his passport until he got an answer he decided was acceptable. That is inherently impeding his entry.

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Baloney

First off, my apologies for not realizing that correcting typos would redundantly publish another post. Secondly, this analysis is being done by way of a written transcript that was "recalled" by this journalist–about whom I know nothing. But as I tried to point out in earlier posts his reaction could be the result of a number of factors. I don’t know if he’s a jerk or entitled or pretentious. He may not be. But he could be just as much as the CBP officer could be in the wrong here. If the officer really did hold him up, then he should be disciplined. But it’s really annoying to see civil servants vilified in the media before the evidence is in.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t know if he’s a jerk or entitled or pretentious.

And yet you were willing to call him such things in earlier comments without even a hint of this newfound qualification.

he could be just as much as the CBP officer could be in the wrong here

The officer asked an unprofessional (at best) question. The journalist had no reason to answer. How can the journalist be “in the wrong” for a situation created by the officer’s own actions that, as even you admit, were at least “unprofessional”?

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scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I admit they are unprofessional IF they were actually delivered in the manner described. I admitted nothing further. My point is, and always has been, that none of us were there. I don’t know how the the journalist was behaving or reacting, just as those who are vilifying the officer do not know. But it’s funny how quickly you criticize me for inferring possible traits of the reporter but have no problem accepting everything he offers about the officer at face value? Thanks for help illustrating that.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

it’s funny how quickly you criticize me for inferring possible traits of the reporter but have no problem accepting everything he offers about the officer at face value

As I said before: Given the long, documented, and unsavory history of U.S. law enforcement officials of all kinds abusing their power and authority up to the point where they kill innocent people and get off scot-free — and given a lack of similar history from journalists — I trust the journalist’s word over the officer’s word until and unless I’m given reason to not trust it.

scooby says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

So basically you believe everything as it is written in whatever context it’s written by journalists until you have reason not to trust it. Seems kind of blind, which is the word you use to describe those who give benefit of the doubt to the officer. There is a plethora of media bias out there. There are books written about media bias and there have been big media pundits who have been taken out because of biased (and flat out false) reporting. Yet those folks don’t get factored into your analysis. Interesting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Watson, who writes the D Brief newsletter and produces the Defense One Radio podcast, said that he’d never before encountered a CBP officer who’d tried to extract a statement in this way. And he noted that the incident was particularly striking in the wake of his reporting trip, during which Danish officials had voiced concerns about a global decline in respect for and adherence to a rules-based order, beginning in the United States.

The United States’ rigid belief that it can do no wrong and has nothing to learn from other more functional and happier Nordic model countries, is one of its many major issues. Its plurality based election system is also a huge issue and a major factor in why bad representatives regularly get elected. Hopefully the USA implements a better system such as range voting where multiple similar candidates do not hurt one another ("candidate cloning"), but I won’t hold my breath.

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