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Terrorists finding a way in
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Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Terrorists finding a way in on 05/27/2010 21:17:42 MDT Print View

According to the Border Patrol the public is being mislead as to WHO is coming into the US from Mexico.

This IS THE TRUTH. as reported by WSBTV in Atlanta. (a reputable public news!

Not 'Tea party' or any other special interest group!)

Video 1 http://www.wsbtv.com/video/23438021/index.html

Video 2 http://www.wsbtv.com/video/23438712/index.html

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Terrorists finding a way in on 05/27/2010 21:33:56 MDT Print View

Its not at all surprising. Backpacker Mag did a story a few years back about the same thing, only through Canada in the Northwest.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Re: Re: Terrorists finding a way in on 05/27/2010 21:58:42 MDT Print View

@ Travis

Yes indeed. I believe it was titled "A Bomb in my Backpack"

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Terrorists finding a way in on 05/27/2010 21:59:43 MDT Print View

OTMs. I had forgotton that one. A buddy of mine walked off the ranch we were on and got picked up by the border patrol, and that is what they called him in as. They also told us we shouldn't go anywhere on the ranch unarmed.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Terrorists finding a way in on 05/27/2010 22:02:39 MDT Print View

But, but.....bombs aren't UL!

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Well, on the PCT when you cross the border... on 05/27/2010 22:09:31 MDT Print View

It isn't like you are met with a gate and a guard. You just walk across the border into Canada. No frills, no fuss.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
And then... on 05/28/2010 01:45:19 MDT Print View

there's the case of the beloved Canadian sci-fi writer, Dr. Peter Watts, who was beaten, pepper sprayed, and arrested by the US border patrol for asking what the nature of their search was. They confiscated his laptop (with writing materials), detained him, charged him with a felony count of assaulting an officer, and then released him without his belongings in a thunderstorm, at the border, to find his way home.

http://boingboing.net/2009/12/11/dr-peter-watts-canad.html

Moral: You're probably more likely to be terrorized by those wearing uniforms than keffiyah.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Watts on 05/28/2010 12:27:55 MDT Print View

Being one of the few people in this hemisphere unfamiliar with the Watts case, I read up a bit.

Unfortunately, if you read anything else about this there is no doubt whatsoever that he both mouthed off to the border cops and refused to follow their instructions during what was an otherwise benign random search. (Not surprising, given that even some of his friends in the blog you linked to described him as a bit of a smart aleck.) He has essentially admitted as much, while trying to spin it. And, claiming that he was "unfamiliar" with border procedures is such a crock as to defy comment. He's crossed many times personally, and anyone with a television in this hemisphere knows what a snarled mess the US border has become, and that you may be searched.

Does this mean he deserved to get pepper sprayed, subdued, and tossed in the clink for a couple of hours?

No, definitely not.

But it does make a hilarious mockery of all of the self-righteous posturing by Watts and his camp of followers who kept insisting that he was the very picture of politeness and got thumped for it. Any time someone uses the phrase "without provocation" I just instinctively doubt them, and wait for the rest of the story to come out. And in this case indeed it came out, as it does in most (not all) cases.

And, at least one juror did specify that they thought charges ought to be brought against the cop for over-reacting. But the jury's job was to decide if Watts resisted or obstructed the officals, and they decided that he did. (He was NOT charged with assaulting anybody, despite what was widely reported.) Still, he only got a suspended sentence, which was probably fair. What is NOT fair is that it is nonetheless a felony conviction, and he can now never enter the US again, even on a connecting flight. Too many petty crimes are considered felonies nowadays. He should press charges against the cop, I guess- he can, though with his own conviction his odds aren't good. And, he can still appeal- though I understand that he has decided not to.

Apparently there was a video, which apparently the jury saw. Watts mentions it once or twice. Someone tried to FOIA it in January, which was denied because the investigation was ongoing. Now that the conviction has been made it could be FOIA'd, but suspiciously nobody has tried.

Incidentally, he also has a 1991 conviction for "obstructing" a Canadian cop, too. Not charges- a conviction. As I said, he's apparently a bit of a smart aleck, and he even has problems with his fellow Canadians, not just the evil DHS. I'd imagine it takes a lot to set off a Canadian cop- Canadians are so infuriatingly calm and polite, as a rule. Then again, the RCMP did taser that guy to death in the Vancouver airport then withhold CPR for 15 minutes, didn't they?

Lord knows, I have my own personal hatred of petty cops abusing their authority. And Lord knows I have respect for anyone who publishes under the Creative Commons license, Cory Doctorow included. But Watts was not the innocent babe many people wanted you to believe. It was a much better story their way, though, wasn't it?

Edited by acrosome on 05/28/2010 13:17:32 MDT.

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
Dean....... on 05/28/2010 18:56:22 MDT Print View

+1 on that.....

Thank you for taking the time to research and post a confirmation of what me and probably a lot of other folks were already guessing to be the case....

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
What? on 05/28/2010 22:00:19 MDT Print View

David and Dean,

Are you in agreement that mouthing off to a police officer should be a felony worthy of jail time? Because that seems pretty extraordinary, not to mention a completely ridiculous waste of our government's finite resources.

Let's get the facts out there, because I'm shocked at how willing some (most?) people are to side with the officers when an encounter with a citizen, who is not engaged int the commission of any crime, turns into a beating that ends up with the citizen facing jail-time.

First of all, the prosecution was forced to drop the charges of assault on an officer because their claim that Dr. Watts choked an officer was contradicted by eye witness testimony. That's a fact. So the most offensive charge was dropped because the cops were lying.

Second, the juror agreed that the punishment was ridiculous and the cops should have been charged. The quote from a juror is rather telling. From the SF Examiner: "What it boiled down to was Mr. Watts did not follow the instructions of the customs agents. Period. He was not violent, he was not intimidating, he was not stopping them from searching his car. He did, however, refuse to follow the commands by his non compliance. He's not a bad man by any stretch of the imagination. The customs agents escalted the situation with sarcasm and miscommunication. Unfortunately, we were not asked to convict those agents with a crime, although, in my opinion, they did commit offenses against Mr. Watts. Two wrongs don't make a right, so we had to follow the instructions as set forth to us by the judge."

So, he wasn't violent. He wasn't intimidating. His sole crime was failing to comply with orders in a fashion deemed timely by the police. This was the crime for which he was beaten, pepper sprayed, and now faces jailtime. Are you comfortable with that?

You presume that he was a smart-alek, and you may be correct, but that rests entirely on the state's witnesses. I'd like to point out that the prior conviction you mentioned was two decades ago! And yet, based on that, you're willing to rush to judgment? This is a 50-year-old man, with no other crimes...so from this information we can glean that either in his 50 years he's had two run-in with rude police officers or he's some serial smart-alek. Either seems equally plausible to me.

Finally, the entire premise of the jury system rests on the ability of a jury to refuse to convict if justice is not being served REGARDLESS of the law. This is a well-established historical fact, and this idea directly influenced the Founders in establishing the right-to-jury in the Constitution. A jury is a check-and-balance on the power of the state, and, it was thought, if a citizen is judged by his fellow citizens, they will not convict him for frivlous or unjust "crimes". Unfortunately, the citizenry has been inundated with dogma about the "law" as if it is something other than the collective will of the citizens themselves, and they view it as some a priori moral code that must be upheld even when it is in error. It's a shame.

Mouthing off to a cop should not be a crime. In a just society, a cop mouthing off to a citizen would be a crime.

One really begins to wonder why everyone is so quick to throw their fellow citizens into cages for committing harmless acts....

Edited by Rezniem on 05/28/2010 22:07:12 MDT.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: What? on 05/29/2010 01:15:53 MDT Print View

Nate:

Are you in agreement that mouthing off to a police officer should be a felony worthy of jail time? Because that seems pretty extraordinary, not to mention a completely ridiculous waste of our government's finite resources.

That's not what Dean said -- here are some excerpts from Dean's posting:
  • Does this mean he deserved to get pepper sprayed, subdued, and tossed in the clink for a couple of hours? No, definitely not.
  • What is NOT fair is that it is nonetheless a felony conviction, and he can now never enter the US again, even on a connecting flight.

-- Bob

Edited by blean on 05/29/2010 01:28:28 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Watts again on 05/29/2010 15:23:24 MDT Print View

Yeah. Thanks, Bob. I think Nate is so wound up about this that he didn't really read my post. Why are you so wound up about something that happened to a total stranger, Nate? Or do you know Watts? (One never knows when discussing things like this on interweb fora, so I guess I should ask.)

Also, I don't *presume* that he was a smart aleck. I have in fact been been *told* that he is a smart aleck, by many sources, including several on the blog you posted, including several of his FRIENDS. I've read everything he wrote on that blog- he comes across as a drama queen, and a bit of a smart aleck. Sorry. (I found the whole episode fascinating, and read that entire blog. It was quite long.) And, for that matter, Watts himself. Recall that I said he eventually admitted to mouthing off and not cooperating, though he didn't quite use those words, as he was trying to spin things. He then said exactly what you did- that that's not a crime.

But it is a crime, you see. It is obstruction. And he was found guilty. And more proof that you didn't even read my post before flying off the handle is to be found in this quote:

"This was the crime for which he was beaten, pepper sprayed, and now faces jailtime."

Because he does not, in fact, face jail time. (There is even doubt that he was beaten, rather than just wrestled to the ground and subdued.) The trial is long over- a month ago, now. He has been given a suspended sentence. (And I mentioned this in my post above, so obviously you didn't read it.) An appellate decision can not increase his sentence, only decrease it. So pardon me if I already do not consider you a very well-informed source. :o)

Now, there is a reason that judges have wide latitude in sentencing. Yes, he could potentially have faced up to 2 years in jail- the offense of which he was charged covers a lot of ground, some serious and some not. But jail was obviously inappropriate in the judge's eyes, so he got a suspended sentence.

As I said, all things considered, that seems fair.

What isn't fair is that it still stands as a felony conviction- which is ridiculous. The offense of which he was found guilty needs to be better defined in the law, with a misdemeanor option. Also not fair AS I SAID was that the cop who flew off the handle walked away.

Basically, the gist of my entire post was this:

Anytime I hear someone stand and loudly proclaim some version of "I was walking down the street minding my own business when for no reason this guy came along and..." did whatever, I instinctively doubt their story. Indeed, Watts did later change his story and admitted that he was mouthy and uncooperative, when he initially stated that he innocently asked what was going on then was immediately sprayed, punched, and beaten. (I'm forced to suspect because his profanities and lack of cooperation were obvious on that video.) So he wasn't the wide-eyed innocent as he tried to initially present himself.

That's all I'm saying. And I still think I'm right about Watts.

You seem to want to emphasize that there are bad cops out there. I was merely pointing out that most people who get into altercations with cops aren't starry-eyed boy scouts.

Most. I certainly don't doubt that innocent people have been harassed or abused by cops. Or worse. The NYPD shot that one guy dead for producing a cell phone, once...

Obviously, an unprovoked police attack on someone who is cooperating would be at least moderately more disturbing than an attack on an uncooperative mouthy ass.

I stand by my statement that Watts probably didn't need to be pepper sprayed, wrestled to the ground, and cuffed. (And he definitely WAS twice warned that he was about to be pepper sprayed if he didn't get back into his car.) But I also stand by my informed opinion that he was being a bit of an ass at the time, so his whining strikes me as just a bit hollow. Lord knows, cops with Napoleon complexes annoy me, and the one who failed to de-escalate and got into this altercation with Watts probably needed to be at least censured.

I want to point out another thing- I'm peppering my post with a lot of "probablies" and "it seems". Because I wasn't on the jury. By definition I don't know the truth- I am only making informed guesses. I don't understand your near-theological certainly on the issue.

Final responses to some of your points:

First: Watts was NEVER charged with assault, despite what you say above. That was mis-reported in the media, and verified by Watts himself. Yes, part of the case hinged on how much Watts resisted after being pepper-sprayed, including the accusation that he got a hold of the cop and tried to choke him. Frankly, I charge anyone to get pepper sprayed then try to lay still and take directions like a nice little boy. It's hard to do. One is going to flail around a bit after being sprayed. (Voice of experience...) So I can understand the misunderstanding. And in fact the jury didn't think he had tried to choke the cop. Nonetheless he was being obstructive, and they found him guilty, and the judge handed him a suspended sentence rather than the jail time he would have gotten had he really tried to choke the cop. As I said- this seems fair.

Second: Regarding the quote from the juror... Yeah. What I said. Didn't I say that?

Regarding jury nullification... I agree that it is an important institution in American jurisprudence. Great injustices have been prevented. But the standard for it is set necessarily high. Almost all jurists agree with me. It is not meant to allow any random jerk to obstruct a cop. His ultimate punishment (i.e. some inconvenience, a mark on his record, and some legal fees) was fair, even if I don't think it should stand as a felony conviction. I'm sorry- if you tangle with a cop you had better be the lily-white aggrieved party that you present yourself as.

So, no one got thrown in jail. We agree that the cop needs to get spanked. But I maintain that Watts was an ass who was asking for trouble- though that probably doesn't justify pepper spraying him and cuffing him. I can't say for certain, as I wasn't there, but the jury thought he had at least done *something* wrong, even ONE of them (one) later stated that the cop was in the wrong, too.

Regarding his prior conviction- say what you will about how people can change, but the psychiatrists will tell you that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. How many (good) (possibly Canadian) cops did he mouth off to in the past two decades who managed to de-escalate the situation successfully, thus sparing Watts an arrest? I don't know. Do you? In most courts prior bad acts are often excluded, but since I'm not a juror in this case I get to have all the information and make whatever judgments I like.

Lots of uncertainty in this case, especially among all of us who were not on the jury. Eh? All I'm saying is that he wasn't a random victim who was attacked by a cop for doing nothing, as he initially claimed (lied).

EDIT-- Just to be sure I'm not in right-wing-nutjob mode on this I had my wife, who easily meets any definition of pinko liberal lawyer, read about it. She agrees that Watts was probably guilty of something, and that a suspended sentence was fair. If anything, she is even more inclined to support the cop than I am, which surprised me. She seems to be a big believer in Niven's Law 1a and 1b.

Wow. This is going to be a good one. How can we fit guns into this discussion? Or global warming? :o)

Edited by acrosome on 05/30/2010 15:43:37 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Watts again on 05/29/2010 15:54:57 MDT Print View

A simple lesson is learned in life. One that I have found out about. If a police man tells you to stop,freeze, shut up, get on the ground, put your hands behind your back, or anything else similar to that, YOU DO IT. If you don't then you get what you deserve. If someone does not comply, then the officer has the right, and justifiably so, to MAKE you comply. It is as simple as that. Most folks that scream police harrasment, brutality usually bring it upon themselves. Though, there are instances of police going overboard, ie Rodney King...But if you asked Rodney why he got pulled over, what would he say?
If you abide by the law (like I do) then you have no reason to fear the police.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
er... on 05/29/2010 16:07:47 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, I do disagree with your last statement, Ken.

If nothing else, innocent people have been killed because cops got the address of crackhouses wrong.

If half a dozed armed men wearing black masks broke down my front door, I'd probably start shooting, personally. I'm sure my bullet-riddled corpse would look quite dramatic. I think that in some states they can do that without knocking and announcing first, under certain circumstances. In states that do require announcement, they pay it lip service with a single light rap, a whispered identification, followed by the ram...

Mind you, I do believe that the vast majority of cops are honest, hard-working folk who are just trying to do a thankless job well. But I also believe that there are bad cops out there. I'm not some naive waif.

Oh, and King has stated on record that he engaged in a 100mph police chase because he was drunk, and knew that was a violation of his parole for a previous robbery conviction...

Edited by acrosome on 05/29/2010 16:54:05 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: What? on 05/29/2010 17:02:41 MDT Print View

"One really begins to wonder why everyone is so quick to throw their fellow citizens into cages for committing harmless acts...."

+1

That is a question every potential juror should be asking themselves, before they are faced with the prospect as a juror. In a climate of fear, I suspect the instinct is to "take another one off the streets" or "make an example". I also suspect prosecutors are well aware of this and play to it in court.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Watts again on 05/29/2010 17:08:14 MDT Print View

"Wow. This is going to be a good one. How can we fit guns into this discussion? Or global warming? :o)"

Just keep the thread alive. Sooner or later, probably sooner.....:))

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Watts again on 05/29/2010 17:12:37 MDT Print View

"Wow. This is going to be a good one. How can we fit guns into this discussion? Or global warming? :o)"

I think Watts should have been shot, except the heat from the round would have contributed to global warming......

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: What? on 05/29/2010 17:12:53 MDT Print View

"One really begins to wonder why everyone is so quick to throw their fellow citizens into cages for committing harmless acts...."

Yeah, I guess I'll agree that sentencing is a little out of hand, for some things. Some of the drug sentences in particular seem a bit over the top. On a related note, some of the zero-tolerance policies that schools have are kinda ridiculous, too. IMHO zero-tolerance policies are merely laziness on the part of school administrators who don't want to be bothered to actually make a rational decision on a case by case basis. It is much easier to enforce a rigid rule. God help the teacher who strip-searches my daughter looking for Advil...

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Watts again on 05/29/2010 17:20:05 MDT Print View

"I think Watts should have been shot, except the heat from the round would have contributed to global warming......"

You forgot the methane and CO2 created by combustion of the gun powder".

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: What? on 05/29/2010 17:21:22 MDT Print View

"God help the teacher who strip-searches my daughter looking for Advil..."

I sense a justification for introducing guns into this thread. ;}