Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How My 35mm Camera Almost Became a Tool of Treason

“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

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Cesar Chelala
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail