FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How My 35mm Camera Almost Became a Tool of Treason

by Kurt Nimmo

“I’ll confiscate your camera,” the Customs officer growled.

I was walking down the pavement on the US side of the border a stone’s throw from Ciudad Puerto Palomas, Mexico. I was rewinding film back into the canister.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“If you take a picture, I’ll confiscate you’re camera,” the officer repeated.

I don’t know how much Customs officers know about cameras. It was obvious I was rewinding film. Even so, I quickly stashed the camera in my bag. I’ve had the camera since 1986. It’s worked flawlessly over the years and I didn’t want to lose it.

I smiled but the officer remained grim. I walked past him over to the Customs station. The officers there were not much friendlier, but at least they were not interested in my camera.

Later, I read an article about a newspaper photographer in Vermont. He was detained for taking pictures of the Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon. Officials saw Jason Henske of the Brattleboro Reformer taking digital pictures and called the cops. Although the police insisted Henske delete the images from his camera, he felt it was his right, under the First Amendment, to keep them. “I was able to take my photos with me, and the images were published the next day in the Brattleboro Reformer, at the insistence of my editor, and under threat of being charged with a felony for treason,” Henske
later said.

Apparently, under an obscure Vermont law, it is illegal to take pictures of nuclear power plants during a time of war.

Windham County State Attorney Dan Davis, according to an article published in the Times Argus, said he became aware of the treason statue after 911. “I don’t think it’s a good time to be publishing photos of Vermont Yankee,” Davis said. “But I didn’t write the law.”

Meanwhile, Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said there were no federal laws prohibiting photography of nuclear plants from public property, and he expressed surprise that Vermont had such a law on the books.

All of which makes me curious – when am I taking a potentially treasonous photograph? New Mexico has a lot of military installations, millions of acres of posted government land, even a missile testing site not too far away from where I live in Las Cruces. New Mexico’s where the first atomic bomb was detonated.

I don’t know if we have a law similar to Vermont’s, but if we do I wouldn’t really be surprised. I may have treasonous images on the hard drive of my computer and not even know it.

A lot of us may be traitors and not even know it. That’s how crazy things are since 911.

I don’t know if it’s an act of treason to photograph a Customs station. Not doubt it would look bad. No doubt the likes of Top Cop John Ashcroft would frown upon such reckless behavior. I mean, as an American, I should probably know better. We’re at war, after all.

For now, I’m just glad the Customs officer didn’t confiscate my camera. I imagine he would have had the right to do so if he thought I was compromising national security in some way. After all, I might we part of a sleeper cell. I might be casing the Customs office for an attack by al-Qaida. The last time hostile forces crossed the border was in 1916 when Poncho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico. He crossed not far from where the Customs officer threatened to confiscate my camera.

In the future, I’ll think about what I photograph.

I don’t want to be sharing a cell with Jose Padilla anytime soon.’

Kurt Nimmo is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

 

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Obama’s Legacy
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Christopher Brauchli
Parallel Lives: Trump and Temer
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail