Post details: The Worst Part of Censorship Is -------------

2009-01-19

Permalink 09:37:20, Categories: News, Homeland Security?, Checkpoints, 1468 words   English (EU)

The Worst Part of Censorship Is -------------

In mid-December 2008 it came to my attention that YouTube had removed several videos from my YouTube channel highlighting a few of my encounters at an internal suspicionless Homeland Security checkpoint. This was done without notice or explanation. Nor did it result in any of the formal 'warnings' or 'strikes' on an account that normally accompany such action. A review of YouTube's posting policy showed that I was not in violation of the site's Terms of Use but I did find a link to the following reference that shed some light on what happened:

[More:]

How do we implement YouTube's content policies?

"...In some cases a video may be removed for the safety and privacy of the user who posted the video, due to a third-party privacy complaint, court order or other unintended issues. In these instances, the user will not receive a strike and the account will not be penalized."

Given that several Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have been in an uproar regarding these videos over the last year, I can only assume YouTube invoked the above clause to remove the offending videos (appearing below) due to pressure from Border Patrol agents who think they have a right to anonymity while operating within the public sphere in their capacity as public servants.

Indeed, an Open Records request I made last year to a state entity regarding several Border Patrol complaints against me resulted in the disclosure of the following hand-written note from January 8, 2008:

  • "YouTube investigating because of safety"
  • "YouTube will investigate complaint"

This note was associated with additional demands from Border Patrol agents that my website and blog be shut down for daring to criticize internal Border Patrol enforcement operations while highlighting my personal experiences at the hands of these agents.

Given that YouTube community ratings on the three videos removed averaged 4.5 on a scale of 5.0, it's pretty clear YouTube's decision to remove the videos was the result of pressure from Homeland Security agents and/or the department itself.

Before continuing, I'd like to acknowledge the fact that ultimately YouTube is the property of a non-government entity and as such has a right to set whatever posting policies it chooses. I'm also appreciative of the opportunity YouTube has provided me, and many others over the years, to tell our stories to a large online audience. With just about 50,000 channel views and nearly 500,000 video views in the past year, my YouTube videos of federal agents seizing individuals absent suspicion at Homeland Security checkpoints away from the border have informed, concerned, motivated and disgusted countless individuals. Many of whom didn't even realize the federal government was conducting such operations against the American people so far away from the country's international borders.

With that said however, it should concern all of us when private or corporate entities are pressured into censoring online content by government actors - especially when such content is perfectly legal and protected by the First Amendment from government intrusion.

While some have claimed these videos violate the agent's right to privacy, such criticism is absurd on its face. Public officials operating on the public's dime in the public sphere (in this case seizing traffic along a public highway), have no expectation of privacy in either their words or their deeds. Indeed, it is only by shining the light of day on abusive and aggressive enforcement activities directed against the public absent suspicion that we can ever hope to realize redress and ultimately change.

We are constantly told by government officials that we as individuals have no expectation of privacy while we're in public. That if we have nothing to hide then we have nothing to fear. This reasoning however works both ways and applies equally to powerful government officials operating in the public sphere as it does to the rest of us. Claiming otherwise is the height of hypocrisy. Yet this same government that ultimately only exists through the consent of the people, appears to abhor transparency and constantly seeks to deny the public information regarding the conduct of its agents.

Fortunately with the advent of the internet, the monopoly big business and big government used to have over the distribution and interpretation of 'news' has shifted ever so slightly away from the controlling hand of self-anointed gatekeepers and towards the freedom of speech, press, assembly and redress envisioned by the founders.

After discovering that YouTube removed several of my videos in December, I distributed them to several other sites to compensate for the intrusion. One of these sites, LiveLeak, has the added feature of allowing viewers to download the media to their local computer to further distribute as they see fit.

With that said, the three videos originally removed by YouTube appear below along with brief descriptions of each and the YouTube statistics associated with them before they were removed at the demand of Homeland Security agents. Homeland Security agents who have no problem with seizing and detaining individuals without cause inside the country but seek to hide their actions from the very public they claim to be 'protecting'.

Blocked YouTube Videos Now Appearing On LiveLeak:


DHS Checkpoint Blog Entry 13: What A Riot

Added: November 08, 2008 (YouTube)
Views: 3,696
Comments: 120
Rating: 5.0 (out of 5.0)
Removed: December 2008 (YouTube)



November 5, 2008:

While Eastbound on SR86 in Southern Arizona, over 40 miles North of the Southern border, I was stopped, seized and searched by armed Homeland Security agents at an internal suspicionless drug checkpoint. The agents know who I am so had no basis to seize me at what is allegedly an immigration checkpoint. Nonetheless that didn't stop Agent C. LeBlanc from conducting a search by running his drug sniffing dog on and around my vehicle absent consent or probable cause.

Additionally, the stopping agent at primary was carrying an FN 303 'riot control' semi-automatic projectile launcher. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FN_303

Since such a weapon makes little tactical sense at the primary stop location of an interior checkpoint along a public highway, I figure its primary purpose must be for general intimidation and harassment. Unless of course the Border Patrol has intelligence regarding a planned riot in the middle of the Arizona desert miles away from the nearest community sometime in the near future.

The map referenced in the video, along with the 100 mile Constitution free zone, is related to an ACLU campaign to draw attention to these DHS abuses. More details are available here.

The K9 handler, Agent LeBlanc, was perfectly willing to violate my rights with his drug sniffing dog during the encounter but wasn't willing to identify himself at the checkpoint. He even went so far as to rip his name tag off so that I wouldn't be able to read it. Fortunately, the camera was a little faster than he was.

Another video of my adventures with Agent LeBlanc can be seen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG5FFilmjfc

DHS Checkpoint Blog Entry 12: The Sniff of Approval
Added: November 08, 2008 (YouTube)
Views: 2,331
Comments: 10
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5.0)
Removed: December 2008 (YouTube)


On October 15, 2008 while driving Eastbound on SR86 in Southern Arizona, four armed Homeland Security agents stopped me at an internal suspicionless DHS checkpoint long enough for a drug sniffing K9 unit to sniff my vehicle absent suspicion or consent. No immigration questions were asked during this brief seizure despite the claim by the Border Patrol that these are immigration checkpoints & Supreme Court rulings requiring the purpose of such checkpoints to be limited in scope to brief immigration queries.

The location of this checkpoint was 40 miles North of the border along an East-West highway never intersecting the border. It's unknown how much illegal contraband and how many illegal border crossers entered the country to the South while the attention of four Border Patrol agents was on domestic traffic miles to the North...


April 14, 2005 DHS Checkpoint: A Prelude of Things To Come

Added: January 26, 2008 (YouTube)
Views: 28,097
Comments: 479
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5.0)
Removed: December 2008 (YouTube)


The first time I was stopped at a Homeland Security Checkpoint was on April 14, 2005. Having been stopped and arrested at an illegal joint task force roadblock conducted by tribal police, U.S. Customs, and the Border Patrol several years earlier - merely for asking a few questions, I always make sure to carry a camera with me when traveling along this road.

After the 2002 arrest, I fought the charges in court and had them dismissed 'with prejudice'. I then sued the tribal police for malicious prosecution and civil rights violations in federal court. That case is currently in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals with details available at:

https://checkpointusa.org/roadblock/roadblock.html

On the day of this video, I wasn't expecting to be stopped at a checkpoint but my camera allowed me to record the details of the stop. A complete write-up of the 2005 incident is available at:

https://checkpointusa.org/DHS/DHSroadblock.htm

Comments:

Comment from: YouTube Sucks [Visitor]
YouTube is like the "popular" clique you knew in high school. If you're not on their good side, your videos get taken down.

Of course, the internet routes around capricious "standards," just as you have.
Permalink 2009-01-21 @ 06:19
Comment from: josieg6 [Visitor]
stay strong. stay your course. But, put yourself first, as no one else in this world will. When it comes down to it, we are alone and sadly few will stand up in the face of such adversity. They would rather join in the mob action, out of fear for themselves....

do you think martial law is coming? Will the obese playing nintendo in the basement will notice the tanks roll thru their neighborhoods? will it only be an issue when the national supply of cheetos is threatened? (Huuuhhhh??)

its a world full of armchair quarterbacks....who are no use on the battlefield.
Permalink 2009-01-21 @ 11:44
Comment from: Mike C [Visitor]
I suppose that anyone interested could certainly download the movies off LiveLeak and post them back onto YouTube...
Permalink 2009-01-21 @ 14:49
Comment from: Daniel Quackenbush [Visitor]
Hi, you should consider filing a Bivens action against the federal officers for violating your First Amendment rights. Corporations such as Google are given special privileges (e.g., limited liability) only because of the government, so maybe you shouldn't be so quick to tow the "it's a private company so it can act irresponsibly" line.
Permalink 2009-01-22 @ 23:09
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]
Interesting information and certainly useful in the protection of civil liberties. I was brought to wonder: Aren't these civil servants required to identify themselves or display a badge/ID so that citizens are able to verify who they are dealing with? After all, they are issued identification badges detailing their position and branch of government enforcement. I know that I wouldn't speak to an "official" without seeing some sort of ID. Why, they might be foreign spies for all I know... Just as Americans are requested to show driver's licenses at stops, it seems reasonable that I should be able to verify whom I am dealing with.
Permalink 2009-01-23 @ 14:53
Comment from: Troy [Visitor]
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, not once but multiple times, that officers are not allowed to search w/o probable cause, but they CAN stop cars and ask questions.

So why not simply answer the questions? Why not comply with SCOTUS rulings?
Permalink 2009-01-24 @ 10:59
Comment from: Ward [Visitor]
I didn't see any reference to scotus requiring you to answer the questions.

However, keep in mind that some states have passed laws requiring you to identify yourself if an officer requests you to.

I am not a lawyer so check with your own attorney for legal advice.

Ward
Permalink 2009-01-24 @ 14:13
Comment from: IBMMuseum [Visitor]
@Ward

Right, you may have to present ID to a law enforcement officer that has the authority and jurisdiction to ask that of you. But the Border Patrol will not have juridiction over the enforcement of state and local laws. I can provide the example that not all driver´s licences are an indication of immigration status as well.

A U.S. citizen can remain silent and chose not to provide any identification, and there are zero legal actions that the Border Patrol can carry out as a result...
Permalink 2009-01-25 @ 20:20
Comment from: YouTubeUser [Visitor]
Perhaps the comments sections of the YouTube site were of more concern to Homeland Security than the videos themselves.

As I recall, many of the comments threatened physical violence against the videographer, and some of them claimed to be boarder patrol agents. This is perhaps even more concerning than the conduct documented here.
Permalink 2009-01-27 @ 02:54
Comment from: josie [Visitor]
LAND OF THE FREE. SUPPORT CHECKPOINT USA IN HIS AIMS TO EXPOSE THE POLICE STATE.

THE COMMENTS OF THE BORDER PATROL AGENTS AND DHS AGENTS EXPOSE THEMSELVES FOR WHAT THEY ARE. HIRED THUGS TAKING A PAYCHECK. WHEN I WAS ARRESTED AND THEN RELEASED (COS THEY NEARLY KILLED ME....) I CHECKED ON THE TRAINING AND TESTING FOR THESE ICE POLICE...AND IT REALLY SEEMED LIKE A STUPIDITY TEST.....AND EACH ONE THAT I SPOKE TO ADMITTED THAT IT WAS JUST FOR HTE MONEY, AND THAT THEY DIDNT KNOW WHY THEY HAD TO ARREST ME THEY WERE 'JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS' AND SOME ADMITTED IT WAS JUST FOR THE PAYCHECK. ONE EVEN SAID IF THEY SAW ME ON TH STREET THEY WOULD LOOK THE OTHER WAY IF THEY WERE NOT ORDERED TO PICK ME UP AT THAT TIME. YOU EITHER BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING, OR YOU ARE JUST 'FOLLOWING ORDERS' LIKE THOSE POOR YOUNG GUYS THATGOT FIRED UP AFTER 9-11 AND JOINED TO MILITARY - TO BE SENT OUT TO THE DANGER ZONE WITH INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT TO 'PROTECT AMERICA' AND NOW 2 YEARS LATER THEY ARE PARAPLEGICS......

WE SHOUDL ALWAYS QUESTION ORDERS....IT IS THE DUTY OF HIGHER BEINGS.
Permalink 2009-01-27 @ 19:23
Comment from: Kirsten [Visitor] · http://crackerscentral.com/wordpress/
If the issue was the comments, then I expect YouTube would have merely deleted the comments and not the videos.
Permalink 2009-01-27 @ 21:32
Comment from: YouTubeUser [Visitor]
You might think so, Kirsten, but you would be wrong. The volume of videos is such that even YouTube acknowledges it is impossible to review each video, let alone the comments.

Video owners can delete viewer comments if they wish, but I expect CheckpointUSA chooses to allow them for the very reason josie mentioned. By their own words and deeds, the agents expose *themselves*.
Permalink 2009-01-28 @ 07:39
Comment from: SweetJamesJones [Visitor] · http://www.trizzletreats.com
Although I understand your frustration with youtube removing your videos and feel that this is more censorship imposed by government pressure I think saying that it was because of “pressure from the Department of Homeland Security” is as much of a stretch of truth as some of the comments made by the DHS agents themselves in your video blog. I agree that youtube (Google) is no stranger to censorship as we’ve seen in China. However it’s in Google’s (youtube) charter that they will not be an evil company. So they set policies and tries to please everyone. So if someone posted a video of someone else that was career damaging or could justifiably cause harm to them, they could contact youtube and have the video removed, youtube (Google) is not going to post it on their site to generate profit which is the point of youtube. There are other forums to get your media out if it’s too hot for youtube. I think the videos removed were more likely because someone who appeared in the video contacted youtube to have the video removed as this is obviously an embarrassment and career damaging. If you are interested in other videos that have been censored from youtube then you will want to look at http://www.youtomb.com which is an MIT project that consistently scans youtube videos and keeps track of videos that are removed.

Keep up the good fight. I’m interested to see what 2009 brings. CheckPointUSA FTW!!!
Permalink 2009-01-29 @ 23:25
Comment from: Charlie [Visitor]
I've downloaded all the videos, do I have your permission to re post them on youtube?

Thanks

Charlie
Permalink 2009-01-30 @ 13:52
Comment from: Pete [Visitor]
What CheckPointUSA is posting with videos and written notes/observations is to me the early stages of a police state or one in the early stages of forming. What about the checkpoints in airline terminals? All Americans are now "terrorism suspects" subject to search, seizure and humiliating procedures. Guilty until proven innocent turns our legal system and laws on their head! Remember the frog in the lukewarm pot of water. The temperature is increased gradually and before the frog knnows it, he's been boiled! What would our founding fathers have to say about all this? They are probably turning over in their graves right now!
Permalink 2009-02-07 @ 01:43
Comment from: Pete [Visitor]
What CheckPointUSA is posting with videos and written notes/observations is to me the early stages of a police state or one in the early stages of forming. What about the checkpoints in airline terminals? All Americans are now "terrorism suspects" subject to search, seizure and humiliating procedures. Guilty until proven innocent turns our legal system and laws on their head! Remember the frog in the lukewarm pot of water. The temperature is increased gradually and before the frog knnows it, he's been boiled! What would our founding fathers have to say about all this? They are probably turning over in their graves right now!
Permalink 2009-02-07 @ 01:44
Comment from: Andrew [Visitor]
they removed you video because it was pointless and stupid. they also reserve the right to delete any video they choose
Permalink 2009-02-08 @ 22:53
Comment from: Justice Unlimited [Visitor] · http://groups.yahoo.com/group/justiceunlimited
Andrew, who are you trying to kid? We KNOW you work or DHS/BP.

PRAY, pray you don't get any J.U. personel through your checkpoint.
Permalink 2009-02-17 @ 17:14

Comments are closed for this post.

Roadblock Revelations

Welcome to Checkpoint USA's blog. Here you'll find general information and discussions regarding growing threats to our right to privacy & travel.

While I refer to court cases along with state and federal law frequently in this blog, nothing written here should be construed as legal advice. I am not an attorney. Rather, I'm someone concerned about the growing disregard for individual rights present at all levels of government.

My conclusions are my own based upon personal experience and research. The law is made purposely complex however and varies significantly from place to place and circumstance to circumstance.

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