Traces of Reality
March 6, 2013
Local NBC News affiliate KGNS-TV (Pro 8 News) ran a story this evening covering “a new trend hitting YouTube” of concerned citizens posting videos of their encounters with border patrol agents at internal checkpoints, featuring a clip of my video at the DHS/CBP checkpoint approximately 40 miles north of Laredo, Texas.
While there is nothing new about these videos–my own video was first posted to YouTube 7 months ago, and other videos like it appearing as far back as 2009–local media propagandists would have you believe this just another passing YouTube trend, like planking or the “Harlem Shake.”
The truth is these videos have been appearing all over the web for years in an effort to document the reality of the exponential growth of the police state in our country. This is a reality that is either completely lost on corporate-stream media talking heads or one that they deliberately obfuscate. While it may be easy for most to dismiss this fact as just another example of lazy Laredo journalism, it’s difficult for me not to acknowledge the “news story” by KGNS for the deliberate hit piece that it is.
The piece opens with a stern and completely erroneous disclaimer by local anchor, Elizabeth Keatinge, advising that “when encountering Border Patrol, by law, you are required to respond to their questions.” Even a cursory understanding of the 4th and 5th Amendments in our Bill of Rights should be enough to counter this assessment. Even still, this debate has been put to rest by attorney after attorney, time and time again. Rather than get into a lengthy legal argument, I would invite you to listen to an interview I conducted with Ben Winograd, an immigration attorney, who (at the time of the interview) was employed by the American Immigration Council and Immigration Policy Center and has been recognized as one of the top 20 immigration law experts in this country.
Mr. Winograd does an excellent job of explaining the current law governing internal Border Patrol checkpoints and answers the question we all want to know: “What are you required to do or say at a checkpoint?” Spoiler alert: You do not have to answer their questions.
The KGNS piece concludes their story by “balancing” their unwavering objectivity (read: love of the police state) with opinions from average Laredoans. Their remarks vary from, the video is “a waste of their time,” the border patrol is “just doing their job,” to, “it’s just a simple question,” it’s “normal” to answer questions when you “go to another city.” Keatinge assures the audience that everyone they spoke to gave generally the same response–to which I have little doubt.
As I’ve written about previously, in Laredo, a checkpoint is as ordinary as checking the mail. It’s completely normal, never to be questioned, and done entirely for our safety. This is what citizens of Laredo, of South Texas, and of the entire southern border have been conditioned to believe for generations. Further, it is what Americans en masse have gradually come to accept in the last decade.
I’m reminded of the words of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who commented recently in an interview I conducted on her frustration with people who discuss the “coming police state.” There is no “coming police state,” she assures us. The police state is already here, and it is “the worst police state in the history of mankind,” driven in large part by the fact that most Americans refuse to acknowledge it. For those who question Mrs. Edmonds’ credentials to speak on this, bear in mind her first-hand experience under totalitarian regimes in Iran under the Shah and in Turkey, after the US-backed coup in 1980.
I’m also reminded of the words of Jacob Hornberger, the founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, and a native of Laredo, Texas. In a recent interview, he specifically decried Laredo as a “mini police state” unto itself–a city surrounded by checkpoints, crowded by ICE, DHS, CBP and DEA agents, and soon to be patrolled from the sky by UAV drones.
While the intended purpose of the KGNS piece on my checkpoint video is evidently to act as megaphone for the Border Patrol and their “policies,” it is my hope that by airing this news story locally, in a city which largely accepts daily searches and seizures as a part of ordinary life, a few more “brush fires of liberty” are set in the minds of perceptive individuals. Young people, specifically, who on some level may still feel as I did when I first went through that same checkpoint decades ago–that intuitive feeling that something is wrong with this–my hope is that they will take note: this is the way things are, but is it the way they are supposed to be?