false imprisonment

DHS Border Guards Assault, Imprison and File False Charges Against Canadian Writer

Hat-tip to SusanG and DarkSyde of DailyKos for the heads-up in the Midday Open Thread.

Science-Fiction writer Dr. Peter Watts was detained, beaten, held and then later released back into Canada by US Border Patrol guards on Tuesday.

He has to go back and face charges that he "struck" a border guard. From both his account and that of a witness, Dr. Watts's only questionable role in the incident was his receipt of a beating at the hands of the guards.

What happened? Per BoingBoing,


Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend. He was stopped at the border crossing at Port Huron, Michigan by U.S. border police for a search of his rental vehicle. When Peter got out of the car and questioned the nature of the search, the gang of border guards subjected him to a beating, restrained him and pepper sprayed him. At the end of it, local police laid a felony charge of assault against a federal officer against Peter. On Wednesday, he posted bond and walked was taken across the border to Canada in shirtsleeves (he was released by Port Huron officials with his car and possessions locked in impound, into a winter storm that evening).

Yes, he was obviously a dangerous terrorism suspect, according to our illustrious Border Patrol. Dr. Watts's own words describe his ordeal as having been


punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, shit-kicked, handcuffed, thrown wet and half-naked into a holding cell for three fucking hours, thrown into an even colder jail cell overnight, arraigned, and charged with assaulting a federal officer, all without access to legal representation (although they did try to get me to waive my Miranda rights. Twice.). ...more...

You can show support for Dr. Watts in any of several ways, including purchasing his book Blindsight, or send a PayPal donation to him at his web page or through PayPal by directing the payment to donate@rifters.com. Please note that donations to this account should be identified as intended for his legal defense fund: although he doesn't want the account used that way (he uses it to vet bills for cats he rescues, per information provided by SF writer David Nickle.

For those of you more willing to make direct inquiries, here's some contact points with the Border Patrol (tho don't have plans to travel any time soon, in case your name gets flagged):

Kelly Ivahnenko, Field Branch Chief

Washington, DC

Phone: (202) 344-1573

Fax: (202) 344-1393

Email: Kelly.Ivahnenko@dhs.gov

Vincent Bond, Field Branch Chief

San Diego, CA

Phone: (619) 744-5224

Fax: (619) 645-6641

Email: vincent.bond@dhs.gov

Steven Cribby, Operations Officer, Border Security Operations

Washington, DC

Phone: (202) 344-1669

Fax: (202) 344-1393

Email: Steven.Cribby@dhs.gov

Mark Qualia, Operations Officer, Border Security Operations

Washington, DC

Phone: (202) 344-1553

Fax: (202) 344-1393

Email: mark.qualia@dhs.gov

Michael J. Reilly, Assistant Chief, Border Security Operations

Washington, DC

Phone: (202) 344-1549

Fax: (202) 344-1393

Email: michael.reilly@dhs.gov

Here are the customer contact lines for DHS:

  Operator Number: 202-282-8000

  Comment Line: 202-282-8495

For information about how to file a complaint about abuse, go here. I'm sure Dr. Watts will appreciate any and all help he can get, and -- if we're lucky -- somebody will address and resolve whatever idiocy led to this incident, and the insanity it brought.