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

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?