This may be the most important story for journalistic documentary since Joe Berlinger had footage shot for Crude subpoenaed by a federal judge two years ago. At Salon, Glenn Greenwald reports again on the issue of Homeland Security regularly detaining American citizens returning to the U.S. and searching and copying their materials, including electronic devices, without cause let alone warrant. Obviously a violation of the Fourth Amendment, the practice is excused as one of the many post-9/11 exceptions.
Among the international travelers who’ve experienced this is Oscar nominee Laura Poitras (My Country, My Country; The Oath), the central focus of the article (also recognized are Bradley Manning supporters and an Islamic Studies student). It’s a necessary read for documentarians and journalists, of course, but it’s also something that affects us all and is therefore necessary for all U.S. citizens. And it requires no commentary, just this introduction. Here’s a quick piece of the article, to hopefully pique your interest:
Poitras’ 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. Since the 2006 release of “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has left and re-entered the U.S. roughly 40 times. Virtually every time during that six-year-period that she has returned to the U.S., her plane has been met by DHS agents who stand at the airplane door or tarmac and inspect the passports of every de-planing passenger until they find her (on the handful of occasions where they did not meet her at the plane, agents were called when she arrived at immigration). Each time, they detain her, and then interrogate her at length about where she went and with whom she met or spoke. They have exhibited a particular interest in finding out for whom she works.
Greenwald includes information about Poitras’ latest project, which is apparently of interest to the government. The new film is to be he third in her War on Terror trilogy, following My Country, My Country and The Oath, and deals with the effects of the “war” in the States, such as heightened surveillance and increased NSA activity. It will also cover the movements in opposition to such rights-hindering measures. Definitely check out the Salon piece for more on what Poitras is having to do to finish the film under the circumstances of strain being put on her.