Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated director of "My Country, My Country" and "The Oath," has suffered extreme harrassment at the hands of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Customs and Border Control (CBC) while making a new film on America's "War on Terror," according to a must-read report in Salon.com.
According to the article, Poitras has been a working on a third installment of her films looking at the War on Terror, with the newest doc examining the U.S. government’s increasing focus on U.S.-based powers of domestic surveillance, its expanding covert domestic NSA activities and its attacks on whistleblowers.
Poitras claims her work has been hampered, and continues to be hampered, by the constant harassment, invasive searches, and intimidation tactics to which she is routinely subjected whenever she re-enters her own country at U.S. airports.
According to Salon, "She has had her laptop, camera and cellphone seized, and not returned for weeks, with the contents presumably copied. On several occasions, her reporter’s notebooks were seized and their contents copied, even as she objected that doing so would invade her journalist-source relationship. Her credit cards and receipts have been copied on numerous occasions. In many instances, DHS agents also detain and interrogate her in the foreign airport before her return, on one trip telling her that she would be barred from boarding her flight back home, only to let her board at the last minute."
Last Thursday, Poitras faced a particularly abusive interrogation at Newark International Airport, reports Salon, where agents, as always, "met her plane, detained her, and took her to an interrogation room.... This time, however, she was told by multiple CBP agents that she was prohibited from taking notes on the ground that her pen could be used as a weapon. After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations, one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes."