Tag Archives: Freedom

Journalist says a CBP officer withheld his passport until he agreed he writes ‘propaganda’

I’m sharing this story from the Stamford Advocate with a heavy heart. Our President via the propaganda phrase “fake news” has brainwashed our civil servants into believing the press (and American public at large) are the enemy. We are to be harassed to no end and if we resist or protest then we are detained for hours and questioned about our patriotism. This won’t stay confined to the press. Soon your government profile will tell the agents not only who you are but what you believe in. If it goes against what the current narrative is YOU are in a lot of trouble.

It took a moment for Ben Watson to realize the officer was not joking.

Watson had just told the Customs and Border Protection staffer reviewing his passport that he works in journalism. Then, the seemingly routine Thursday encounter at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport got tense.

“So you write propaganda, right?” Watson recalled the CBP officer asking.

“No,” the news editor at national security site Defense One says he replied. He affirmed again that he was journalist.

The officer repeated his propaganda question, Watson said.

“With his tone, and he’s looking me in the eye – I very much realized this is not a joke,” Watson told The Washington Post on Friday. The exchange that ensued as Watson returned from reporting trip in Denmark – the editor says he got his passport back only after agreeing with the “propaganda” charge to move on – has sparked alarm about rising hostility to journalists as the Trump administration continues to attack the media as “fake news.”

Watson had heard a couple stories of similar encounters in the past, but says he did not realize until sharing his experience at Dulles just how many people in his field were reporting the same brand of harassment. U.S. airport border agents were at the center of several incidents that have raised reporters’s concerns this year.

“I’ve honestly never had a human attempt to provoke me like this before in my life,” Watson remembers telling his colleagues. “This behavior is totally normal now, I guess?”

Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that it is investigating the “alleged inappropriate conduct.”

“We hold our employees accountable to our core values of vigilance, integrity and service to country, and do not tolerate inappropriate comments or behavior by our employees,” the agency said.

Standards of conduct for the Department of Homeland Security, CBP’s parent agency, direct staff to “act impartially.”

An article from Defense One describes Watson’s full recollection of Thursday’s conversation. After the second alleged query by the CBP officer, Watson explained that he covers national security “with many of the same skills” he used as a public affairs officer in the Army.

“Some would argue that’s propaganda,” he added.

When the officer reiterated his question a third time, Watson says, he paused.

His wife had already circled the airport for 20 minutes. He figured he could get stuck for hours if he tried to call in the officer’s supervisor. So he gave in.

“For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes,” he recalled telling the CBP officer.

The officer made Watson agree one more time before letting him through, Watson said. He says he’s filed a civil rights complaint with DHS.

“We are disappointed and concerned that any U.S. official would question a journalist, or any citizen, in this way,” Kevin Baron, Defense One’s executive editor, wrote to The Post.

Others in journalism circles and beyond were quick to point out chilling implications in the story.

Walter Shaub, an attorney who served as director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics until 2017, tweeted that incident should go to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General office for review.

“A customs agent withholding the passport of a journalist until he agrees to say he writes “propaganda” is actionable misconduct, even in Trump’s America,” he said.

A growing list of journalists say they have been startled by government officials’s harassment in a country that prizes freedom of the press. The encounters are raising fears that hostile rhetoric led by President Donald Trump and his allies are damaging reporters’s ability to do their job unhindered.

This spring, the World Freedom Press Index called journalists’s treatment in the U.S. “problematic” for the first time in its 17 years of assessments – and singled out “President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric and continuing threats to journalists” as driving the deteriorating conditions. The U.S.’s spot in the ranking has fallen for the last three years.

Journalists have been reporting run-ins with border agents for years, too.

In 2016, the detention of a Canadian’s photographer for more than six hours on his way to cover protests in the U.S. made headlines. Ed Ou said airport officers took his cellphones away for search after he refused to unlock them, saying he needed to protect his sources. When Ou got the devices back, he suspected tampering and potential data-copying.

As Andrea Peterson reported in The Post:


If Ou had already been inside the U.S. border, law enforcement officers would have needed a warrant to search his smartphones to comply with a 2014 Supreme Court ruling. But the journalist learned the hard way that the same rules don’t apply at the border, where the government claims the right to search electronic devices without a warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing.


Several other journalists have described difficulties getting through airports in 2019.

In February, CBP apologized to a BuzzFeed journalist questioned at a New York airport about their news organization’s coverage of Trump and Robert Mueller III’s special counsel investigation. A few months later, a freelancer said he was detained by CBP officials for hours at an airport in Texas.

Then, in August, British journalist James Dyer described an “unsettling experience” as he flew into California to cover a Disney event. The film and TV writer said a CBP officer at Los Angeles International Airport called him a member of the “fake news media” and asked if he’d worked for CNN or MSNBC, two frequent targets of Trump’s criticism.

“He aggressively told me that journalists are liars and are attacking their democracy,” Dyer wrote in a viral tweet-thread.

He said he was allowed to move on after explaining that he was just trying to write about Star Wars.

CBP’s response at the time was much like its statement on Thursday’s incident.

“Inappropriate comments or behavior are not tolerated, and do not reflect our values of vigilance, integrity and professionalism,” the agency said.

CBP did not address broader concerns about its officers’s treatment of journalists in its Friday statement on the Dulles Airport incident.

Freedom in Christ is Freedom Indeed

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free! John 8:32
That scripture and those words hold new meaning for me today! You see I always thought Jesus was talking about a purely spiritual experience with this scripture. We know Jesus was talking about freedom from the law of sin and death but I always thought this was spiritual only. As it turns out He was talking about freedom in general, both spiritual AND physical!

What do I mean? I’ll use smoking as an example. It’s a terrible habit and one that is extremely tough to break. When I tried to quit on my own with willpower it never worked. I had to have the born-again spirit and the mindset that comes with it in order to defeat that addiction. That was the freedom Jesus was talking about. He used to tell me this all the time; “John you will have your victory over cigarettes/nicotine once you exercise your faith and walk away from them”. But at the time I didn’t have enough faith to just walk away so Jesus and I came up with a gradual plan to build my faith. It took a little over a year but the plan worked and now I am 100% nicotine free!


Working the plan. The key word there is work. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26) so in order to receive the freedom Jesus was talking about you have to work at it! You build faith by hearing the word but you won’t see results until you get to work! The work is simple but the flesh is hard to discipline without God’s word. Some people can quit smoking on willpower but I haven’t met many myself. I have met many more who have quit smoking because of being born again and exercising their faith! Sometimes you will get healed on the spot and have no more desire for those stinky things but for me and for many others we had to GET TO WORK!


So, claim your freedom today in Jesus name! Put your foot down in God’s word and stand firm! Understand that the world and its addictions are a LIE! They stand in contrast to what God’s word says about us and our victory in Jesus! Don’t believe the lies about addictions! Jesus can break them and destroy them! Ask him for your freedom today, BELIEVE you have it and then go claim your victory in Jesus name!


Here are seven scriptures to encourage you to keep going when the temptation to give up comes! Addictions are addictions they all have their root causes in the spiritual realm. By using God’s word and following a plan you can and will have victory over the things that bind you! God bless and have a great weekend!
Johnny