Squidgate. Update.

I’m at the point now where I can’t talk a whole lot about ongoing proceedings. I am seeing a few common misrepresentations making the rounds, though, that I’d like to set straight:

  • Some are concluding that, when I was “dumped across the border in shirtsleeves”,  I had to walk across the Blue Water Bridge in a snowstorm without my coat.  No.  The bridge is on the US side of the border, which they had to drive me across to dump me on the other side of; and Canadian Customs was on that other side.  This was no Starlight Cruise; I was not exposed to the weather unprotected for an inordinately long time.  Still.  It’s winter.  And they have my coat.
  • Others have warned me to delete my previous post, lest the bad guys seize upon it and twist it to their own dark purposes.  Having had erroneous quotes attributed to me in the past, I know this is good advice (which is why I won’t be commenting in too much detail upon some of the arcane blow-by-blows of the case in question).  But my lawyer vetted that post before I put it up; I stand behind it.
  • Thanks to whoever posted the link to the Times-Herald story. I have three comments about the allegations therein.  Firstly, the story claims that I was entering the US, not leaving it: this is empirically false.  Secondly, I find it interesting that these guys characterise “pulling away” as “aggressive” behavior; I myself would regard it as a retreat.  And thirdly, I did not “choke” anyone.  I state this categorically.  And having been told that cameras were in fact on site, I look forward to seeing the footage they provide.

That’s it for the technical items. I have only two more things to say.  Firstly, I am absolutely flabbergasted by the online reaction to this story, and by the support (both moral and financial) that’s inundated me over the past few hours.  I don’t have a hope in hell of answering even a fraction of the incoming traffic at this point, so for the moment let me just say I’m humbled and a little bit scared.  I did not start this campaign; it actually started when I was still in jail, and had absolutely no idea what was going on.  But to the catalytic folks who orchestrated it, know that I am looking into having my vasectomy reversed so that I can sire a firstborn son and sacrifice him to you.

Secondly, I’m going to bed.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Friday December 11 2009at 06:12 pm , filed under Squidgate . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

166 Responses to “Squidgate. Update.”

  1. Sleep well, friend. The Rifters are on watch.

  2. ‘night. We’ll be here tomorrow.

  3. Do you have to sacrifice the first born son? And if so, literally, or figuratively? We could just raise him in a skinner box and call it a sacrifice for science.

    On a more serious note, here’s hoping everything gets sorted. Signal has been boosted, the Bloodhound Gang is on the case, and we’re making Free the Squid placards as we speak.

  4. Peter said: “Times-Herald story. I have three comments about the allegations therein. Firstly, the story claims that I was entering the US, not leaving it: this is empirically false.”

    That was the first thing I caught in that story… they don’t even have that right. I was actually comeing here to point that out, but you’d posted before I got back here.

    Sleep Well…

  5. Although I am a staunch supporter of our (usually) good neighbour, the United States of America, I am appalled by this incident. Ever since George W. Bush stepped down, things have gone downhill. He would not let this sort of thing stand but in the SOCIALIST world of Barrack Obama, this sort of gestapo attacks go on every day.

    Well, this time they messed with a CANADIAN. This will not stand.

  6. Donation en route, me and many other lurkers are on your side.

  7. @Pixelfish You make it a bumper-sticker and a t-shirt and you’ve got a sale!

    (All proceeds will of course go to the Kibble Fund I assume?)

  8. Sleep tight, Peter.

    All of us creepy fans will continue to stand around and dissect this thing from every angle.

    Oh, and thanks for the supplemental post. I know you can’t talk about this much anymore, but it was good to hear your reaction to the past few hours.

  9. A ‘re-hash’ in the National Post

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/afterword/archive/2009/12/11/canadian-sci-fi-author-beaten-imprisoned-at-us-border-crossing.aspx

  10. In the aftermath of this incident:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2009/10/blogger_vs_tsa

    I’ll wait until the video and audio tapes come out before I believe either side of this story.

  11. Fear not, GS! The Legion of Cephalopods is on the case. Take your well-earned rest. Justice never sleeps.

  12. I’m really sorry to hear about this. You’ve given me many hours of incredible reading, so in thanks, and to help if I can, I’ve made a small donation to the kibble fund. Wish it could be more. Be well.

  13. [...] The official police report is in and claims that Watts tried to 'choke' an officer. Watts refutes that and then points out that the article has one huge flaw in it: it states he was entering the [...]

  14. Hello Mr Watts-

    I found your story via John Scalzi. I’m so mortified and enraged by your story I don’t quite know what to do. I would donate if I could, but I’m not really in a position to. But I want to lend moral support, and say I’m so sorry for this horror and wish you the best of luck.

    May your lawyers pick all the meat from perps’ bones.

  15. Thank you for clarifying things; I have edited my post to add some things and strike out others.

    Rest well. We are all pulling for you.

  16. Dr Watts — don’t be too surprised by the support. There are many of us, now, who for years have watched the agents of authority get nastier, and pushier, and more intrusive. Incidents such as you describe are practically routine. The only thing that makes yours different is that you have some public standing — and you have a literate, networked, technologically empowered community ready to stand by you.

    I wish you the very best of luck in this matter. I’ll be following it as closely as I can.

    (And count me in for some of those ‘Free the Squid’ stickers, eh?)

  17. With any luck this will all end up with you, the thug cops and President Obama sharing a beer.

  18. @PixelFish i made this for you (and Peter).
    http://ienkub.deviantart.com/art/free-the-squid-146481385

  19. Peter, unasked for advice of the day: Ignore the embarrassing descendants of the American Revolution who think the police are always right. There are still many people in my country who remember that it is no crime to question authority, and sometimes, questioning authority is a duty.

    Also, get a lot of sleep.

  20. Sleep well, hon. I am glad you didn’t have to walk over that bridge.

  21. I’m appalled and horrified.
    And I know that the line about sacrificing the first born son is a joke, but there are people with NO sense of humor out there

    (the same bunch who took seriously the Augustine’s Law which years ago, based on straight line projection trend analysis in the price of military fighter planes, announced that in the year 2020 the US Government would have one fighter plane; it would be shared with half the year the US Air Force having it, and the other six months, the US Navy, and the US Marines having it on leap days, What the humorless wonders who heard the joke completely missed, is that it -was- a joke, and Norman Augustine, the author of that and other such “laws,” was the ultimate aerospace and defense industry insider–he wound up as the CEO of Lockheed-Martin, the largest defense contractor in the USA! The humorless wonder thought he was being a serious critic as opposed to someone inside the industry being sarcastic and lampooning the industry from the inside)

    Anyway, while theoretically it ought to be obvious to the most casual observer that you’re making a joke, you’re overestimating the taste/clue level and for that matter the graciousness and honorability level of a certain percentage of the United States public… given an opportunity to misread something or to maliciously misinterpret it, they’ll embrace a misread/maliciousmalevolent misinterpretation every time.

    I’m more than slightly suspicious that the report which you indicate is loaded with inaccuracies, is extant and inaccurate by other than happenstance…. I wouldn’t be surprised if e.g. it’;s intentional disinformation/misinformation/etc.

  22. Doh! This is not cool!

    What’s with the US Border Guards stopping people LEAVING the US? Out here in BC there’s no US Border Guards stopping people from leaving the states. Odd!

  23. Dr Watts, I’m relieved that you’ve arrived safely and have expert counsel and supporters. I’m glad to be one of the latter (via the Niblet route, also through Bill Schafer’s generosity), though at present a bit disgusted to be a citizen of the Untied Snakes of Adversia.

    Rest well, and I hope that all settlements be in your favor.

    Chris

  24. Peter, I hope very much that all turns out well for you. I am glad that I could be a part of the “campaign” and shall continue doing what I can. I also sent you some money via the “donate” address.

  25. A freak wormhole had opened up outside my bedroom window tonight as I lay there with my hand gently intertwined with that of my lover.

    She was asleep, so she did not hear the interlopers, drunken and rowdy, as they made their scurrilous ways across our front lawn.

    I slipped away quietly, to make sure that the front door was locked, and found this page up on my laptop. I must have zoned off whilst reading about your tribulations & trials, but I have not forgotten, and will try to muster our supply sergeant and master-at-arms tomorrow to see what provisions are available.

    Sleep well, for you deserve to.

    - jpt_io

  26. @harry nads These things started during the Bush years and if you do a little googling on the subject you will find that Canadian points of entry into/out of the U.S. are not actually the nicest places to be. Lets see if i can remember the last time that there was an attack from Canadian soil launched towards the U.S. I believe maybe in the 1812 War we launched some attacks on the BNC but I think they just held the line didn’t launch attacks. My point being we have never had anything to fear from Canada, in fact they have every reason to fear us.
    I would take a look at the definition of socialism and reevaluate my statement before firing off ideas that I haven’t thought out. Discussing Politics on the Net is a can of worms once opened is tough to close.
    That being said, this is a clear case of poorly managed, educated and trained citizens who have no respect for they job they perform. And it is cold remember they wanted Cocoa.

    I apologize for my country mistreating and disrespecting you Peter and yes the check is in the mail.

  27. Agree with WS. Those so-called descendants will follow anything that wraps itself in a flag and talks tough enough; this decade is proof enough of that.

  28. I don’t suppose anyone in the States has an iReport account on CNN.com

    I’m sure the community on board with this outrage could bump a story pretty quickly up the ranks and onto the tellie…

  29. I, for one, would like to personally apologize for the actions of my government. I am sorry and I wish this had not happened to you.

  30. My Paypal contribution to the Kibble Fund last night is intended for your legal defense fund if needed. If there’s a box for comments when making payments, I missed it.

  31. Heard the news yesterday just before going to bed myself. Had some weird dreams after that ! ;-(
    Anyway, haut les cœurs, as we say (or said) here : chin up. Hold on and all that sort of things.

  32. Welcome to life under a Nobel Peace Prize-winning regime. Not much change for the better. (Well, at least you are not a little girl that was harmed…)

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/ya2esbx

  33. 50 CAD sent for legal defense.

    I’d like to mention Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison experiment. While the situations are very different, I suggest the following analogy: officers see themselves as the high-ranking authority, while citizens see themselves as low-ranking authority-followers. When the citizens overstep their intended roles and try any higher-status moves, officers can get nasty to put citizens in their place.

    I suspect this has little to with the US or authoritarianism, and more to do with the basics of human psychology (although of course any state should fight such behavior). I will not be greatly surprised if the officers in this particular case have IQs higher than 100 and vote Democrat.

  34. Mate, I’ve had a vasectomy reversal and I don’t recommend it. It’s not nearly as much fun as the original op. You sleep through the whole thing! And nurses keep waking you during the night to ensure you’re not bleeding to death. Ugly nurses.

    No idea about sacrificing children though, sorry. Best of luck with the US legal system, you’ll need it.

  35. Hi Peter,

    A monstrous course of events, and another anti-democratic outrage from the US authorities. For what it’s worth, I’ve highlighted your plight on my Facebook page (which ANYBODY with a Facebook account can access), and on my proto-blog:
    http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.com/2009/12/defend-support-peter-watts.html

    Wishing you the best – and look forward even more to your next novel!

    DANNY O’DARE

  36. Just came across your story and your site. You are seriously, smokin’ hot!

  37. [...] The main article can be read here, a thoughtful follow-up here, and from his own blog here (and an update). Sherwood Smith writes about it here, including a plea for [...]

  38. Read this first via Neil Gaiman’s twitter @neilhimself.

    I wasn’t at the border. I didn’t see this happen but if it is as described I am appalled. I believe that frequently and unfortunately people who are given power sometimes overstep that power and turn into bullies. And perhaps people who seek this type of job do it strictly BECAUSE they see it as a means to push people around. It doesn’t just happen at the borders, but in small towns too.

    The Patriot Act took away a lot of civil rights from us in the USA. I want my rights back. But I also want to feel safe from terrorists so I am willing to forgo SOME of these rights. I am not willing to be abused or see others pushed about.

    Dr. Watts, even if you had made a move that somehow upset the guards it sounds like the “punishment” could never fit the “crime”. I am pulling for you.

  39. I know from personal experience that law enforcement around here tends to decide what you’re guilty of, before any incident or investigation. But hey, the thought police don’t need true evidence, do they.

    Welcome to the ranks, my brother. My sincerest hopes that this turns out well, I’d hate for the best current SF author to be thrown in the pen.

  40. In response to Harry Nads, this sort of incident DID occur before Obama even ran for office.
    Just curious, Peter: you state that you were leaving the US, but customs agents on the US usually only take the bridge toll. They question/inspect if you are entering the US, not leaving it. If you were leaving the US, you would have been questioned by Canadian customs on the Canadian side. If you could explain???
    Also, and this isn’t an excuse for any alleged bad behavior on the customs agents side, but this bridge is often used for drug trafficking as an “easy alternative” to crossing at Windsor/Detroit. In the past week, Canadian customs found over $6million in drugs in a semitruck entering Canada. So this type of event puts all customs agents on high alert. Again, no excuses, but maybe a contributing factor.
    I’ve lived in the Port Huron area all my life, and we were taught from childhood that when going through customs, you keep your answers brief and respectful, do as you’re told. Customs agents/Border patrols on BOTH sides of the bridges are trying to protect their citizens; the bridges are considered “high risk” for terrorist attacks. Just sayin’. I truly hope this works out ok for you.

  41. So sorry this happened to you…we’re not all bad on the U.S. side. The border patrol may still be on a high from busting some true criminals last week, but that’s no excuse for what happened to you. And the Times Herald is notorious for getting shit wrong. Unfortunately, it’s the only newspaper we have in town.

    P.S. to Harry Nads…this incident has nothing to do with who’s president, trust me. The mentality, right or wrong, is part of the fallout from 9/11.

  42. Flinthart: re “Incidents such as you describe are practically routine.”:

    When years from now Peter is finally exhonerated by a US court, we’ll all be very happy indeed. It will take a lot of money, and a lot of tmie and pain on Peter’s side, and a lot of US tax money.

    And we will have done absolutely nothing to make these assaults less common. It could happen again to anyone, including Peter if he crosses the border again and the guards don’t recognize him.

    Any idea where to go from here? This is rearguard action, people.

    P.S. I did contribute to the kibble.

  43. To the many authority loving folks commenting on here. My grandmother use to always say that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear’ till some other little ol’ ladies ratted her out for bumping another car in a parking lot(no damage done). Then the cops came to her house and harassed her, and took her license away.

    The point is, until you’ve been pulled from your car and beaten by the cops, it’s hard to understand that they can do this for to you, because you looked at them the wrong way, but they do. They’ve done it to me, more than a few times.

    I still travel, but have had major trouble at the border and will not drive over it again, no way, just not worth it.

    Good luck Peter, i really don’t care if you ‘disobeyed a lawful command’ to hell with that, how far could you get doing it without major weapons? Even if you were a dick(and i’m not saying you were) these guys are supposedly pro’s, and pro’s stay calm under pressure. If they struck you, or harmed you, they lost their cool, or they enjoy hurting people. Either way, it’s wrong.

    Remember folks, two wrongs do not make a right!

    Stay strong, this helps to open the eyes to the way 1,000′s are treated every day all across the so called ‘land of the free’.

    what a croc!

    aoxomoxoa sought

  44. we use our big honking neocortices not to control our instincts, but to make excuses for them

  45. “….we use our big honking neocortices not to control our instincts, but to make excuses for them.”

  46. Just read your story on Boing Boing – holy crap! I am a Brit living in the Midwest and several people have advised me to only use that particular crossing if there is no alternative. No I know why.

    I have had to pay bribes to cross borders in Africa but this is different, sadism pure and simple and that is always more scary.

    Good luck with the legal stuff – hopefully with all the publicity being generated the charges against you will quietly disappear and will do what little I can to get the word out.

  47. It would seem that you have a good case for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and defamation of character. The payout is likely to be in the millions… certainly enough to replace the stolen coat.

  48. To Paula re “I’m more than slightly suspicious that the report which you indicate is loaded with inaccuracies, is extant and inaccurate by other than happenstance…. I wouldn’t be surprised if e.g. it’;s intentional disinformation/misinformation/etc.”

    I know that it will hardly come as a suprise to any reader of Peter’s, but as a former criminal lawyer who has worked both for the defence and alongside police officers and prosecutors, I can tell you *without doubt* that initial reports from police — whether in the media or in official documentation — regularly overstate their position to the point of farce. There is no defence like a good offence, and the cops know it.

    This often happens when the police prepare a “will-say” for instance. This is a summary of the accused’s alleged offence to be used at their bail hearing, ostensibly just to give the court the basic idea of what the person is supposed to have done wrong. The are frequently exaggerated in order to make bail harder to get, often reading along the lines of “the suspect, who reeked of marijuana and who appeared to have a syringe protruding from his arm, displayed strength that would have been inexplicable unless her were on PCP when he turned and attacked the officers unprovoked” which is often later boiled down to “the guy (smelling of incense and wearing a bracelet) turned about while I was trying to handcuff him and made me pinch my finger.”

    Like media reports, though, will-says are not something you have to defend later. They don’t come up at the trial so you can pretty much say what you want and not worry that you’ll be held to account.

    I my example is humourousl, but this stuff is no joke.

  49. Okay, well now that everyone is active again: How to expand today?

  50. I hope those JBT’s drop the charges soon. If it is indeed as you say, that charge is baseless.
    It should’ve been resisting arrest if you did not want being cuffed, but I guess they can’t charge you with that, since they had no reason to arrest you.

    Better to have that vasectomy reversed. There is no such thing as bad publicity, and this may even help your writing career somewhat. Sometimes, there’s silver lining on even on a shitstorm.

    If I were you, I think I would refrain from macing any more restaurants. You probably brought some bad karma on yourself with that incident.

  51. Incredible. I hope you get through this quickly and safely. The best of luck!

  52. I couldn’t find an email for you, so I thought I’d say here, but i just donated $25CAD and wanted to make sure you use it for the defense instead of the cats :)

  53. Harry Nads stated that Canada has never attacked the US. But you forgot that one little incident when we entered Washington and set the whitehouse on fire during the war of 1812. Oh shit, I am probably now on a Homeland Security list.

  54. The way you were treated is appalling. As a fellow writer, you can expect my donation coming forthwith.

  55. Wen a cop or a border guard tells you to do something simple like stay in your car, or get back in your car, you should.

    Much simpler.

  56. A totally horrific experience, and the Internet Troll Rage from my countrymen is nothing less than shameful. I wish you complete vindication and justice, it’s just a shame it has to take place at all.

    As for my hate-mongering countrymen, I suspect they’re suffering from Stockholm Syndrome … better to shout from the chorus than to be singled out by the bully in their midst. I’d pity them, if I had the time.

    My donation to your legal fund has already been transmitted.

    Justice for all!

  57. Hey guys, let’s get this out there: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/tips/newstips.html

  58. $30 CAD sent from a Norwegian who very much enjoyed a visit to Toronto this spring and will be back coming summer …

  59. I’ve added a little bit to the fund. It will probably only be enough for some seconds of lawyer-time, but I hope it helps.

    Good luck!

  60. At Benthos:

    Excellent idea! I just sent an email to them about this! Hopefully this will start to get more attention from the big news corporations!

    Again, good luck, Peter!

  61. Dear Mr. Watts
    I read he story about your incident today in the Port huron Times Herald. I have followed your work for years and was shocked to see what had happened to you at the border. I have been in Law Enforcement for 13 years and a Survival Tactics Instructor for 6 of those years. Please have your legal team do reseach on those involed in the incident, I’m sure your going to be suprised by what you find. This isn’t the first caseof excessive force at the Blue Water Bridge by US officers.

    Good luck Sir, and Gob Bless

  62. @Benthos. Done! I suggest focusing on getting the video released, MSM loves them some “Gimme, gimme” response “No” back and forth. It’s like catnip for talking heads.

    Also, email the White House (but be respectful):
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

    And the DNC:
    http://my.democrats.org/page/s/contactissues

    Volume WILL get attention, I assure you. The possibility of the Left agreeing with tea-baggers that USG is behaving fascistic? There will be much wetting of blue pants with the run up to the 2010 midterm elections.

  63. Harry, this is not something you can blame on Obama. If he bears any fault in this, it is for not having magically caused the years of the Bush administration’s complete disregard for civil liberties to no longer be the guiding principle of the thugs responsible for this outrage.

    Do please educate yourself about the reality of the situation.

  64. [...] 12/12/09 11:47am: Peter has posted again with an update, specifically touching on how a Michigan newspaper story on the incident is telling [...]

  65. Mr. Watts, It appears you have not been acting as a polite visitor while visiting the U.S. If you don’t care for the laws or choose not to abide by them, simply stay the fuck out of our country.

  66. Further more, when you do return to the States for your court hearing and sentencing, you should listen to the law enforcement officials or be prepared for anothe ass whooping.

  67. I followed a link to the previous post from a LJ post. I’m horrified by your experience, and more than a bit disturbed to learn of the existence of border guards searching people on exit from the US. I know a plan was implemented at airports to screen people leaving the US, which raised IATA hackles, but the implementation of random (or targeted?) searches on exit at land crossings, frankly, scares the hell out of me.

    I grew up in a suburb of Windsor, ON, a short bridge or tunnel trip away from Detroit, MI. During the 18 years I spent there, and three or four visits with my parents prior to the passport requirement, I never heard of a story like this. The only Americans a person would encounter on the way back to Canada were the bored toll booth employees, and for a time it was more likely that a Canadian would be searched at Canadian customs due to rampant smuggling of cheap groceries and other products in the early- to mid-1990s.

    I think I’ll pass your story along to some local radio hosts I know (I used to host a show myself at a community station. It was interesting). I’m among many Canadians who are too creeped out by the increasing scope and power of authorities over there to consider crossing the border. I like the people; the government, however, freaks me out. Besides, we have enough trouble with our own authorities stepping way over the line.

  68. I have been following this case and will wait till all the facts are out before passing judgement. If it is in fact an issues of wrongdoing by the Border Guards I still don’t see how this is “America” (United States of) and not couple badge wearing thugs, trying to show how they have power.

    Also as a counter point I have cross the border several times (not in this area) and in my experience I have been hassled only by the Canadian side. The heavily armed and scary American side has always just waved me on, maybe it is because I am a citizen I don’t know. The point is I have been searched, interviewed, had my entire car and person riffled through, been asked to account for every vitamin and OTC pain pill, and repeatedly drilled on why I am entering Canada. I am not saying our guy’s don’t get overzealous. I am just saying it happens on both sides and the issue is not a USA bad everybody else good. The issue is not Black and White.

    I am still trying to figure out based on the accounts I have read how American representatives accosted him when he was entering Canada. In my admittedly limited experience it is the Canadians that do the accosting when you are crossing into Canada.

  69. Ok just read “selected at random for a secondary Customs inspection.”

  70. [...] responded to the report in the Times Herald on his blog, pointing out that the paper’s account of Watts attempting to enter the US was [...]

  71. For everyone who is asking “what can we do?”:

    First, be aware that it’s the weekend. One of the obstacles in the way of accomplishing anything lasting about events like this is that most people feel an initial surge of rage, but if they are ignored for a couple of days, they go on with their life and the government can pretend it never happened. Nothing’s going to happen on the weekend. So the first step is to make plans for what you’re going to do next week, and be determined not to let this slip away as another ignored news story.

    Second, be aware that this is a larger policy issue and communicate how it is a larger policy issue when discussing this. The problem is not that a few rogue officers beat up Peter Watts. The problem is that Homeland Security and the Border Patrol are completely out of control, authorized to use non-violent force like pepper spray to escalate purely verbal disagreements, authorized to beat people up for asking questions, authorized to arbitrarily confiscate the property of people *leaving* the country for no probable cause and no justified link to any sort of customs enforcement, and authorized to operate with impunity within 100 miles of the border. The ACLU has already been trying to draw attention to the last. This is an opportunity to increase that pressure.

    Third, take that general policy issue to the people who are responsible for setting the rules that govern Border Patrol behavior, namely your Congressional representatives. They’re the ones who can apply heat, and they’re the ones who can change the laws of the US so that the Border Patrol is no longer authorized to behave in that way. Complaining to the White House is useful insofar as they can set agency guidelines on behavior; complaining to Congress is potentially more effective because they can change the *law*.

    So, for Monday morning, have prepared the facts of the case (which are, if you look at both the police report and Peter’s account, not particularly in dispute apart from the obvious error of which direction he was going and the bogus claim that someone who was just pepper-sprayed is capable of consciously attempting to choke someone). Have prepared the ways that you think that links to a higher policy problem. Have prepared the action that you want your congressional representation to take: namely, an investigation of the rules surrounding the Border Patrol, the 100 mile operations zone, the ability to do arbitrary searches and seizures, and the policy around escalation of force and use of non-lethal weaponry on people who are not physically threatening. And then call your local House representative and both of your Senators and walk the person on the phone through all of this. Phone calls are much more effective than paper letters, which are much more effective than e-mail.

  72. Urgh, sorry, that should obviously be “non-lethal force like pepper-spray,” not “non-violent force” (an obvious oxymoron).

  73. Just wanted to say that you are somewhat incorrect when speaking of Miranda rights. There is no such thing. The so-called Miranda rights are better referred to as the Miranda warning. The legal case of Miranda vs. (cant rem offhand but I assume either US Government or a local govt agency) provided that law officials must provide a warning to those they arrest advising them that they do indeed have certain rights. In fact, you have many more inherent rights than what the Miranda case says you need to be informed of. For instance, it is always to your benefit not to open your mouth at all, before or after arrest, and before or after being “read your rights”.

    I just think that is an important distinction to be aware of when dealing with American jurisprudence.

  74. This is going to appear in the news in Romania too! I’m working on it! Keeping fingers crossed for you! Give’em a hard time in court! And next time you want to cross a border, come to our country; our cops are stupid too but you can buy them by the pair with a pack of ciagrettes.

  75. Well, the AP has it now: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5gLzlt-V3ssTrCzWJvKFFWIEjpv6Q

    Be sure if you haven’t to go to this link and send a “tip”: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/tips/newstips.html

  76. This bears reposting in this thread from the old one:

    ePluribus Media

    http://discuss.epluribusmedia.net/content/dhs-border-guards-assault-imprison-and-file-false-charges-against-canadian-writer

  77. Hrmph. Why are the cops never interested in me? I get let off with warnings on the most egregious occasions, they never want to search me. Cause/effect…I love cops. Never met a bad one. However, not everyone can be cop-loving conservative white woman. I agree with whoever said that unless you had a gun, they were out of line.

    On the third side, what cops do is scary, and I love them for it. This does not include border agents, what they do is not so scary. When’s the last time an individual at a border crossing pulled a gun? It must happen, anyone? Bueller?

  78. You think you can get punched in the face and get away with in? Spill the beans, what have you done to upset the DHS? Did they found the porn bomb plans sewn in the jacket collar before you ate them? You’re not fit to be in the same sleeper cell with me, you colaborationist bean spiller!

  79. Funny how these (Apparently identical) New York Times and Guardian articles completely skip over the police brutality accusations!

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/12/12/us/AP-US-Writer-Arrested.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8854408

  80. Just wanted to say that I had never heard of you as a writer, but when I saw the news post about the incident I came over to your site, read most of the major points of your books, and have ended up purchasing the entirety of the Rifter’s series to read over winter break (when I should be studying for the MCATs).

    Go media attention!

  81. For whoever is interested in going to Michigan to protest, I’m volunteering to be the contact point for US caravans, particularly ones going North from or through SW Ohio.

    No event is scheduled at this time, but, if you would like to stay informed of events or be included in carpooling, send me an email at

    peterwattscaravan@yahoo.com

    Feel free to post the above email address and its purpose (coordinating US protest caravans) far and wide.

    Please be open to altering events based on requests for prudence from Dr. Watts’s legal team.

    ,Dora P.

  82. I am a U.S. citizen. I first went to Canada in 1982 by bus from Boston to Montreal, and the difference betweenthe way the Canadian border guards and the U.S. border guards acted toward bus passengers with visa problems made me ashamed to be a citizen of my country. I have crossed many times since, and it has gotten steadily worse, sharply so since September 2001.

    Many members of the police and other agents of the government behave quite admirably, but there are always people who gravitate to power to abuse it. It takes time to weed them out, and since DHS/TSA became a growth industry, the weeding out has become less effective. So while it is true that it became a lot worse under George W. Bush’s administration, this problem is not new and did not start with him.

    As a practical matter, it has often been risky to stand on your rights. When dealing with thugs, i.e., people with genuine, real license to kill as advertised by badges worn and guns on their hips, I kowtow if at all possible and seek redress of any wrongs later. Clearly there are times when that is a bad strategy, but fortunately I haven’t encountered those.

    This is not to criticize Peter Watts. I’ll be donating what little I can spare to his defense fund

  83. I’ve written emails to my Senators (my Congresswoman is worse than useless). I hope it might spark some help. There are plenty of SF fans and authors here in Minnesota who can and should do the same.

  84. As discussed in the Braidwood Inquiry report on the police use of conducted energy weapons, Tasers, “pulling away” is regarded as a passive form of aggression. It is one of several Orwellian characterizations that allow the police to categorize innocent if non-cooperative behavior as “aggressive” in order to deliver the appropriate response and charges.

    Charges are often aggressively pursued under the theory that the best defense [to claims of police use of excessive force] is a good offense. Even agreeing after long negotiations to have them dismissed without further consequence – although the charge remains on record – can result in the victim being forced to STFU as part of exchange for the dismissal. Short of complete vindication through the courts or diplomatic intervention, rare on several counts, that can be the mildest of possible consequences.

    No one here but you knows the facts. Many people on both sides of the border are upset at the seeming ubiquity of the excessive use of force, be it Tasering already restrained 15 year-old girls or assaulting the not abjectly submissive adult traveler crossing one of the busiest posts on the border. Most of us are happy at our intense mutual dependence. I’d like to keep it that way. Best of luck, we’ll be watching.

  85. Like most customs and border authorities, US border authorities have wide rights to inspect and seize persons, cars and goods, and to seize and copy computers, pda’s, cell phones, and so on. That applies to US and non-US citizens crossing the border in either direction.

    Physical assaults are another matter. The biggest problem is documenting the events and their order. Moreover, persons at the border have few Constitutional or procedural protections. Assuming that Dr. Watts was in the US legally, and was still on US territory at the time of these events, he has greater rights than if he were, say, in territorial limbo inside an international airport.

    I would hope that this incident also becomes a diplomatic cause celebre. There are, undoubtedly, many other incidents like this one, both at the border and at border guard encounters that are now common along US motorways hundreds of miles from the Canadian or Mexican borders. (Ride a coach from Toronto to Albany some time and count them.) The Canadian-US border is a mutual lifeline. The ways in which its flow can be interrupted in order to express displeasure are many. That should not be necessary. Here’s hoping both governments act to make it so.

  86. I hope you can get some rest and aren’t hurt. Words just fail me here –
    America is still a wonderful country (ok, yes, I have to repeat this to myself each and every time I go through airport security). As hard as it may be, please don’t let this color your opinion of the rest of us Amurricans…

    Do let us know what we can do to support you as this goes on…the wheels of justice will grind slowly I am sure…you’ve got a lot of support. Thank you for being so open with your fans and ignoring the idiots.
    Hang in there and give ‘em hell.

  87. It seems possible that US border authorities have been recruiting from among the dyspeptic, if all american, youths who were not recruited to join its colonial forces in the Middle East. This should be an issue on which Canadians and Americans can be drawn together. Escalating rather than resolving this incident is not in our mutual interest.

  88. Yes, it will be interesting to see the footage. I hope there is a soundtrack, too. Why did you get out of your car to begin with? Why did you not comply with the agents’ order to get back inside? Did you attempt to evade the officers as they were trying to handcuff you?

    There isn’t an “spoiled brat sci-fi writer exemption” to the rules. If you can’t follow our rules, stay home. We have enough self-entitled, brainless jerks to deal with as it is.

  89. Many apologies for my country. We are in the midst of transitioning to a police state, it appears. Very sad for us, and very sad for the rest of the world, I’m sure, since we do tend to take things out on others.

    All my life, I feared the bully. Now I live within it.

  90. [...] No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Squidgate. Update. – I have three comments about the allegations therein. Firstly, the story claims that I was entering the US, not leaving it: this is empirically false. Secondly, I find it interesting that these guys characterise “pulling away” as “aggressive” behavior; I myself would regard it as a retreat. And thirdly, I did not “choke” anyone. I state this categorically. And having been told that cameras were in fact on site, I look forward to seeing the footage they provide. [...]

  91. Chris J.:

    Both articles appear to be straight from the Associated Press wire, and despite numerous links to these posts around the ‘net, the writer of the wire piece only appears to have included statements from the Customs spokesperson and a local newspaper article. I suspect this may have more to do with AP sourcing policies than anything else, though that’s purely a guess.

  92. So…is the author meet and greet in Toronto still going to happen? And you bet that nobody would be interested, and no one would show up. From the flowing of support, looks like you bet on the wrong horse/author. I will donate tomorrow, I have to go to bed and try to explain to my wife why I am so late.

  93. Just a very small detail: What happens to the impounded car?

    The rental car is not Dr. Watt’s property, but he may have to pay additional rental cost until the car is released to the rental company. If I was manager of that rental company I’d be in touch with police shortly after the car is due in, and if it’s not released, file a charge of car theft against the border patrol or whoever has control of the car …

  94. Whew, good to see the ‘Crawl is back – was a bit worrying there when it just dropped for a few hours…

  95. @JMG8: you’re doing much to convince me that the U.S. of A. are, in fact, a totalitarian state.

  96. Just sent you a small donation. Spend it on the lawyers or on the cats. Having recently lost ours, I know what a consoling presence cats can be.

  97. Peter – for goodness sake, at least tell me there was a chick involved in this somehow….

  98. The lessons from this episode are clear. Do not ever talk to USian law enforcement. Do not answer their questions, do not reply to their requests, if they come to your kid’s school, withdraw them from class. If you have the misfortune to have a cop living nearby, do not engage them in even the most cursory conversation regardless of wether they are on duty or not. They are not citizens. They are not subject to trhe laws and mores that citizens must follow, they are not part of your community and have no place within it. In most neighbourhoods USian cops raise money by confiscating cars and property from the poor to fund their departments. Any other citizen taking your property would be subject to laws and penalties. Cops are not. They are exempt from the laws and obligations that citizenry carry with them. When you see one coming, cross the street. If you see one being attacked, look the other way.

    Good luck, Pete, hope the case turns out right for you.

  99. To me it seems to be a distinction between treating people with dignity and respect or treating people with fear, aggression or even legalism.

    Mr Watts comes across as a man who lives in a world where he treats, and is treated by, others with respect and dignity.  Much the same as the law is suppose to see people as innocent until proven guilty.  Even questioning the officers is a treatment of the same.

    There is a tv show in Australia that depicts custom officers dealing with all manner of people entering the country.  These officers have to deal with some very trying situations, but they continue to treat others with dignity and respect.  They do not consider this being achieved by intimidation or aggression.

    Such decent standards engenders a positive attitude of respect towards law enforcement.  It would seem that many of those who have made comment about Mr Watts’ situation hold to an appropriate standard.  Especially Mr Watts, who continues to behave with dignity and I applaude him with respect.  I hope all those involved would yet see the value such respect and dignity adds to their lives.

  100. Peter–I would like to speech to you or your lawyer please. I crossed Port Huron on June 11th of this year. Three customs officers mistreated me. 1 threatened to handcuff me and lock me in a room in the basement and another one-well-I thought I was going to end up in the hospital. That officer I dealt with (I did not get his name) BUT I wil reconize him in a heartbeat. He’s mean and cruel and gets his kicks by showing people sho’s boss. Please contact me and maybe I can help. I filed a complaint against him and I’ve crossed the border 2000 times. Long haul truck driver. I have a FAST card, passport, proper paperwork at the time. They had a problem with the shipment–NOT ME. I had DID nothing wrong. Please contact me. I didn’t see the time this incident happened. I know 2 of the names of the officers I had a problem with. I don’t have internet access 24/7. I know many more drivers who have had problems there also. Hoping to hear from you soon.

  101. @JMG8″We have enough self-entitled, brainless jerks to deal with as it is.”

    Yep, we all have to deal with your sorry ass. Go back to Fark, fuckwit.

  102. @Danilo ” Do not ever talk to USian law enforcement.”

    There’s even a video by a law school professor and former criminal defense attorney James Duane entitled “Don’t talk to the police”.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc
    In the second half of the lecture he gives over to a police officer who confirms all that he said.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE

    It is rather weird, but I can definitively understand where they are coming from, especially after witnessing all these comments that “this writer jerk had it coming, he didn’t get back in his car”. Sigh.

  103. Peter,

    First, I’m terribly sorry that this happened to you. Aside from sending a donation, if there is anything we can do, please let us know. From the majority of posts here–we’re behind you.

    Secondly, I really want to employ my troll killing tactics. If you need any moderation help, I’d be happy to stretch these guys on a taffy puller. I can not believe the unwarranted rudeness inherent in some of the responses. I guess it only takes a keyboard and internet connection to spew incoherent and disrespectful bile. Too bad there isn’t comment software that turns every anonymous comment into gibberish. Fucking cowards.

    Hold fast, Peter.

  104. Modest donation to the Legal Kibble Fund duly made. It’s a complete shame that it happened this way, but I’m very glad to have been turned on to your writing.

    I hope you’re enjoying your unnecessarily well-deserved sleep.

  105. According to some of the articles (Ireland Online in this case):

    “Mr Smith said US attorney’s office declined to prosecute and that the case was turned over to city police in Port Huron, north east of Detroit.

    Mr Watts was charged with assaulting, obstructing and resisting a police officer, according to St Clair County District Court records.”

    So our federal government is embarrassed enough to wash their hands of it. I was unaware that federal charges could be tried in a/by a local court.

    How I see this is as a political hot potato. The democrats don’t want to be near this, so I suggest we hold THEM accountable.

  106. Appears as though the federal government has caved to pressure. According to some of the articles (Ireland Online in this case):

    “Mr Smith said US attorney’s office declined to prosecute and that the case was turned over to city police in Port Huron, north east of Detroit.

    Mr Watts was charged with assaulting, obstructing and resisting a police officer, according to St Clair County District Court records.”

    So our federal government is embarrassed enough to wash their hands of it. Which is precisely why we should hold them accountable. Keep up the pressure, write Senator Levin and your own representatives.

  107. Hang in there and all the best.

  108. @Kate
    There is a way to render comments semi-gibberish: disemvowelling. Boingboing uses it as their primary mechanism for anti-trolling, since you can still read the comment if you try really hard. I’ll talk to Peter about getting that plugin installed on the blog.

  109. What about a lawsuit against the goons? Go on the offensive.

  110. Also, forgot to mention, charging people with assaulting officers or resisting arrest is a common thing heavy-handed police do to explain why someone is damaged. I did an expose on police brutality in a New Jersey town long ago by checking with all the otherwise law-abiding citizens who had been hit with charges of some sort accompanied by resisting arrest, over a four-year period.

    Police get away with roughing people up when the people they rough up have a record of lawbreaking. They don’t get away with it, at least not forever, when they rough up a citizen the first time that citizen finds himself face to face with thug police. We had little difficulty rounding up a dozen or so non-criminals to tell their story of being slapped around and damaged, and found out the town had been settling such incidents out-of-court for several years. If they persist in prosecuting you it wouldn’t hurt to put out a call for anyone similarly harassed to step forward. I see you’ve got one trucker already. Similarly a sifting of that departments arrest records for people charged with assaulting an officer or resisting arrest would probably yield some interesting results.

    These are bad people. It has to be said, though, that most police aren’t like that. The bad ones just stand out so much that they give the whole profession a bad rap.

  111. At least now you have some good, raw material to incorporate in a book.
    On behalf of your prospective readership everywhere, sorry.

  112. The sad thing is, the border police are so hyped up on their own power trip that they are guaranteed to miss the real troublemakers. All the terrorists have to do is keep their heads down and their mouths shut. They’ll get right through while these border thugs make a career out of beating up geeks and nerds, same as they did in high school.

  113. The obvious Google search suggests you should also contact the Ontario Trucking Association, who were investigating poor behaviour by guards at this crossing earlier in the year.

  114. The fact that Mr. Watts writes books that some people like does not set him above the law, common sense, and compliance with reasonable police procedure. He was ordered to stop and have his car searched, which is legal at a border. He was ordered back into his car, which sounds reasonable to me. He refused, and then struggled with the police.

    People here have rushed to agree with Mr. Watts’s account because they like his books, and because like Mr. Watts they have a problem with authority. I don’t know his books one way or the other, and having crossed numerous borders many times, including the U.S.-Canadian border, I don’t have a problem with authority.

    National sovereignty starts with a country’s control of its borders. If Mr. Watts can’t accept this, then he is welcome to park his wiseass in Canada and keep it there.

  115. The fact that Mr. Watts writes books that some people like does not set him above the law, common sense, and compliance with reasonable police procedure. He was ordered to stop and have his car searched, which is legal at a border. He was ordered back into his car, which sounds reasonable to me. He refused, and then struggled with the police.

    People here have rushed to agree with Mr. Watts’s account because they like his books, and because like Mr. Watts they have a problem with authority. I don’t know his books one way or the other, and having crossed numerous borders many times, including the U.S.-Canadian border, I don’t have a problem with authority.

    National sovereignty starts with a country’s control of its borders. If Mr. Watts can’t accept this, then he is welcome to park his wiseass in Canada and keep it there for as long as he wishes.

  116. @JMG8

    I do not view it as being above the law. Rather, I view it as we only know about this incident because Mr. Watts has friends like Cory Doctorow (who by posting on his site informed others like Neil Gaiman, etc.) to draw attention to this event.

    That Mr. Watts got out of his car to ask what was going on is not in dispute. What is in dispute is:

    A) Guards and/or police false claim that he was entering the US, not leaving it (which he was)
    B) Guards and/or police claim that he choked one of the guards (show us the video)
    C) Whether or not getting out of your vehicle and asking what’s going on can or should result in up to 2 years in prison or legal fees that put you on the street
    D) Whether or not people who failed to follow policy OR if they did, that those who set said policy should be considered above the law

    This was not an encounter with a bear, skateboarding on top of a building, or sticking a metal utensil into an electrical socket. There were what one hopes are law enforcement professionals involved. Their behavior is not a force of nature nor physics; it can be addressed, altered and probably should be.

    We have the right to address grievances with our government and we are exercising the right to do so.

    For my right-wing countrymen, the words of the man who walked on water:

    Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. — Ronald Reagan

  117. > Yes, it will be interesting to see the footage. I hope there is a soundtrack, too.
    > Why did you get out of your car to begin with? Why did you not comply with the
    > agents’ order to get back inside? Did you attempt to evade the officers as they
    > were trying to handcuff you?
    None of this is sufficient provocation to beat, mace, and jail an innocent man trying to get home.

    > There isn’t an “spoiled brat sci-fi writer exemption” to the rules.
    What rule is there, which allows border guards to mace, beat, and imprison an innocent man who did nothing but cringe away from violence, then file charges under false pretenses?

  118. Besides, what he’s actually being accused of is “choking” an officer. Not even you’re willing to believe that part, it seems.

  119. We’re dealing either with trolls or particularly irrelevant dumbasses. I mean, really, who goes to a guy’s site and lectures his supporters after he’s gone through an experience like this?

    To be honest, I’d be pitching in on this one if he hollowed out a HSA agent and danced around in his still warm skin.. (though lets be real, nobody could write the Rifters books, then turn around and be this stupid. Not happening)

    Mr Watts has touched my life, and its a red letter day for me when one of his books come out. IIt means a lot to me to be able to give something back for once.

  120. @Chris in NY

    A) From what I can see, the “false claim” came from an error by the Port Huron, MI newspaper

    B) I didn’t see a claim from the police that he choked anyone. Do you have a link to the police claiming that, as opposed to a claim that the police claimed that?

    C) From what I’ve read, he wasn’t arrested for getting out of his car, but rather for ignoring an order to get back into his car and then scuffling with officers when they tried to restrain him.

    D) I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    We do have the right to address grievances with the government, but that doesn’t mean that some jerk has a right to make a ruckus at a border crossing and expect to get a free pass because he writes sci-fi books that some people like.

    @Tyler Montbriand

    You assume that Mr. Watts is telling the truth about what happened and that the police are lying. I find his account suspicious, given my experience at the border. The border cops have a lot to do and not much time to do it. I don’t find it credible that they somehow fingered this guy for harassment. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

    @Whanfall

    Yes, you have a point. I should have assumed that Mr. Watts’s supporters are complete sycophants who will believe absolutely anything they are told without performing even the most basic reality checks, simply because they guy’s books have “touched my life.” Do you worship Oprah, too

    It could be that Mr. Watts is entirely right. It could also be that the sun rises in the northwest, does a dance to and fro, and sets in the east. He might be a good writer and a charming conversationalist, and in real life I might like him if I met him.

    But I’ve crossed that border, and have done it on a number of occasions. I’ve crossed the U.S.-Canada border elsewhere, and have been to 24 other non-U.S. countries, entailing many dozens of crossings. Mr. Watts’s tale does not pass the smell test with me, and I say that as someone who is not generally gestapo-friendly. The border guards have jobs to do, and Mr. Watts sounds like he was doing his level best to make a royal pain in the ass out of himself. Bad idea.

  121. @JGM8

    A) How do you know it was a mistake?

    B) Here’s the link and the quote:

    —–

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20091211/NEWS01/91211010/1002/Science+fiction+writer+charged+after+bridge+struggle

    Jones said a border officer used pepper spray to subdue Watts. Jones said Watts “choked” an officer during the struggle.

    —–

    C) Yes, that is one version of events. You have also read (I assume) Mr. Watts’ version. Why are you giving greater weight to one than the other? I can explain why I am.

    D1) That there are procedures for law enforcement professionals to follow. Did they follow them? If not, then that may explain why they might “exaggerate” the choking charge. Did you know that the original charge was assaulting a federal officer? What if there was no assault? Did you realize that the US district attorney has looked at this case (and presumably the video tape of the incident) and declined to prosecute? Why would might that be?

    D2) That they may have very well been following protocol in everything they did. If so, I want it changed. As an American citizen I have the right to seek that. There is no “the authorities are always right no matter what” in the Constitution. In the meantime, I will do whatever I can to see that someone is not unjustly punished due to (potentially) stupid orders.

    Now, can you provide a link that shows that Peter Watts “expect[s] to get a free pass because he writes sci-fi books that some people like”?

  122. Peter Watts’ tale is entirely consistent with other such encounters, which have risen considerably since Mr. Bush began his GWOT. The border is no longer the friendly crossing it used to be, except for those with beards and Volkswagen vans. In fact, it’s hard to tell where the border is, what with US “border” agents stopping travelers up and down the motorways of Southern Californian, along the motorways to Texas, and on those from Buffalo to Vermont.

    If the Border Patrol’s position were stronger, or its version more credible, for example, the US Attorney would probably not have passed a classic federal case to local law enforcement. Prosecuting the case or defending his agents doesn’t seem to be a priority.

    Which tale is more credible, Peter Watts’ or the U.S. Border Patrol’s, can be established quickly if the US is willing to release the video tapes that were made of the incident. Let’s see what they do.

  123. @Chris in NY

    Thanks for the link about the “choking” allegation. It will be interesting to see the recording. As for the rest, I think everything about Watts’s demeanor since this incident suggests that he thinks he is special and above the rules. I have seen this sort of behavior in many other situations, and I don’t like it one bit.

    Mr. Watts has not explained why he got out of the car to begin with or why he didn’t get back in when told to. As for why I give the police greater weight, it’s because common sense regarding behavior during such a stop suggests to me that the police account is more likely to be correct than Mr. Watts’s account.

    Again, I am someone who has crossed borders a number of times. I even once had the Customs people seize 10 fake Rolexes that I had bought in China as Christmas gag gifts. They were professional and polite when they did it, and I laughed off the whole thing, as did they. But I didn’t get the watches back.

    I think what most likely happened is that Watts decided that he was too important to be searched, and that he was going to be a jerk with the officers. I think he started shouting at them; that they told him to get back into his car; that he refused; that they decided to arrest him; and that he scuffled with them. I think it’s likely that this all arose because Mr. Watts thinks, like so many jerkoffs in so many travel situations, that he is above the rules.

    If that’s wrong, I’ll be happy to back down from that guess. But I am not at all convinced by Mr. Watts’s account, and especially not by the mindless blatherings of his fan boys here.

  124. @ Gonville, the reason the U.S. attorney passed it to the locals is because, at the end of the day, it’s a trivial matter too small to take the considerable resources it would cost to prosecute. I won’t be surprised if the locals drop it, too. Maybe you haven’t heard that there is a depression in Michigan, and that government resources are very scarce. Frankly, I will be surprised if anything comes of it, but I’d be interested to see the full evidence.

    In the meantime, though, I’m writing off Mr. Watts as a sanctimonious jerk with a bunch of fans who share his paranoid delusions.

  125. Well, we can all be thankful that the gestapo did release you to Canadian custody, rather than deporting you to Syria or Egypt. Thank heaven for small favors!

    Sleep well indeed!

  126. [...] Assuming this is true … what a big man assaulting police. He wrote a response to one newspaper article (not this particular version of the wire story): "Thanks to whoever [...]

  127. @ JMG8

    I appreciate you explaining your position.

    Sure, customs is going to search you when you come in to the country and of course they’re going to be concerned about hurting Rolex’s bottom line with the potential (not what you were doing of course) of selling fake ones on the street. Strange to me that China let you take them out.

    But that’s not what happened here. He was leaving the country. Isn’t that the direction we want potential terrorists going? Why slow them down?

    In terms of cost, why are we searching vehicles leaving the country in the first place? Especially when there’s Canadian BG right across the bridge ready to do the same?

    I submit that (if it were true) choking a law enforcement officer would be a serious enough crime for the US D.A. to prosecute vigorously. Rather I think he looked at the inflated evidence, decided there was no case.

    It is not yet illegal to be a jerk in the US; if it were, building prisons would save the economy, though I don’t know who’d be left to guard them.

    To me, the paranoid delusion is that stupid policy makes us safer, that law enforcement is always right (everyone makes mistakes, but professionals must he held to a higher standard), and that the Constitution does apply at our borders because of 100 lunatics in the mountains of Afghanistan.

  128. Should have been “*not* apply…” obviously.

  129. @Chris in NY

    “Sure, customs is going to search you when you come in to the country and of course they’re going to be concerned about hurting Rolex’s bottom line with the potential (not what you were doing of course) of selling fake ones on the street. Strange to me that China let you take them out.”

    ——–

    Customs couldn’t care less about Rolex’s bottom line. They are law enforcement agents, and it’s against the law to import counterfeit goods. There is nothing complicated about it. As for taking the stuff out, I for one have never had my bags checked upon exit from a country. I am aware that it happens to people, but it has not happened to me. Besides, fake Rolexes are a big business in China.

    As for the rest of your conjectures, that’s all they are. Spare me the self-righteous, paranoid dribblings. Really. I don’t think Mr. Watts has been even minimally forthcoming about this incident. He hasn’t explained why he got out of his car, why he wouldn’t get back in, and why he struggled with the police officer.

    Remember, Chris, at least with me you are talking to someone who has crossed a lot of borders many times, including the U.S.-Canada border. This incident has every earmark of Mr. Watts being a snotty, spoiled brat. I see this type of traveler all too often. Mr. Watts, I don’t care how many books you write. The rules apply to you just as they apply to me and to everyone else.

  130. By the way, now that Mr. Watts has cranked it up, he has every interest in continuing this charade. Even if in the cool light of day he realizes that he acted like an eight-year-old, he’ll never say so. I, on the other hand, would be happy to switch sides on this if the evidence emerged that his account is true.

    But common sense and personal experience leans very heavily against his account. I think the very worst that could have happened here is that Mr. Watts encountered a short-tempered Border Patrol officer who wasn’t in the mood for his juvenile hijinks and took a harder line than he otherwise might have. The idea that some gestapo singled him out for abuse is absurd.

  131. What ‘rules’, JMG? That’s where this breaks down. There is no law against being a jerk. We can yell darn near anything (exceptions are fire in certain places and threatening a high government official) without facing a jail sentence.

    And really, there’s no need to dismiss what I say as conjecture when neither one of us was at the border that day to witness what happened. You, too, are using conjecture. Just because you’ve crossed borders many times does not mean you know what happened in this case.

    And, again, this to me is beside the point:

    Should questioning a law enforcement professional or failing to immediately obey a command result in a jail sentence?

    If the President saw you on the street and said, “Come here!” and you refused, should you be imprisoned for that? How much less then for someone much, much lower on the totem pole?

    I’m not talking about the alleged punches, pepper spray, nor the detainment (the legality and propriety of those may be decided in court, however). That stuff is over and done with unless Mr. Watts and his attorney’s feel he should pursue a civil suit (perhaps, if nothing else, to get his notes, etc. returned).

    Put simply: being a “snotty, spoiled brat” is not illegal, nor should it be, merely discouraged and untaught.

  132. “I think the very worst that could have happened here is that Mr. Watts encountered a short-tempered Border Patrol officer who wasn’t in the mood for his juvenile hijinks and took a harder line than he otherwise might have.”

    Agreed. Does that warrant a federal (or even a county) case? We all make mistakes. Drop it, move on.

  133. @JMG8: let’s get this straight.
    - Getting out of the car and asking a law enforcement official for the reason of their action is enough to label someone as ‘snotty, spoiled brat’, beat them and spray with pepper?
    (I still find this hard to believe, but I’ve only travelled to other European countries and the only border between two hostile countries that I’ve seen was the German-German border in 1989; also, I honestly did not realize that U.S. of A. and Canada are in highly escalated conflict right now. Wait, don’t tell me that this is border guard’s behaviour on a friendly border. It isn’t, is it?)

  134. I think JMG8′s position is that I must have done more than that, because otherwise no border guard would behave the way these ones did. Perhaps he thinks I leapt from the vehicle, made oinking noises, and arbitrarily kicked the nearest guard in the genitals, but that I’m just not coming clean on those details.

    He’ll believe whatever he has to to let himself sleep soundly at night. Given the frequency of his posts here, though, I gotta wonder why he’s so invested in this.

  135. I don’t think he’s invested, he’s a troll, he enjoys baiting people. A bit like DHS goons, only hiding behind the relative anonymity of the Internet and not behind a badge and a constitution free-zone, and with a far less impact.

    So, nothing to do with sleeping soundly at night, just another bully enjoying himself.

  136. @JMG8

    Yep. There’s no god but Oprah, and Obama is her prophet.

    You seem invested in this, need a hug?

  137. [...] [...]

  138. Mr. Watts, you haven’t answered basic questions. I am “invested” in this to the extent of having bookmarked this comment thread. I don’t see you complaining about the “investments” made by your sycophants here, who have proven themselves unable to ask basic questions and come to obvious conclusions.

    Why did you exit your car? Were you told to do so, or did you decide that you had some unique contribution to make to law enforcement?

    Why did you not get back in your car when ordered to do so? Is there an arrogant, self-righteous Canadian sci-fi writer exemption to civility, common sense, and following the rules?

    Why did you struggle with the officers when they attempted to arrest you? Is that also a privilege of arrogance?

    No doubt, my comments here are greatly outnumbered by those of your fanboys. I can only expect that. But the reality remains that you decided to act like a juvenile and now complain that you were disciplined like one. Let’s see how far your complaints get you. Happy trails on your future crossings, by the way! Those ought to be fun. Advice: Don’t be in a hurry.

  139. Dr. Watts, perhaps you should take a few minutes and check out the words of fellow Sci-Fi writer Larry Niven. His “How the universe works” might be helpful to you, pay particular attenion to rules #1 and #1(A). Also try Googling Chris Rock – How not to get your ass kicked by the Police. See if you can determine which pointer applies specifically to your case.
    On a more serious note, it seems poster ‘JMG8′ has touched a nerve? Some of his points hitting a little close to home? I think he maybe onto something. Here’s a Universal Truth: It takes two to tango. You knew exactly why you were stopped and it pissed you off. You got out of our car to confront someone and stayed out when ordered to get back in, in order to escalate the confrontation. Bingo. You got what you asked for.
    Congratulations.

  140. JMG8 has crossed the border many times without being assaulted by the border guards. Therefore it seems unlikely that Peter Watts was assaulted by the guards.
    The same logic also implies that no-one has ever won the lottery.

    Good luck with the upcoming court case Mr Watts. I hope the video of the incident helps, but I wouldn’t stake a case on it. Footage which damages a law enforcement prosecution has a strange way of becoming unavailable.

  141. @JMG8 what an amazing troll you are. Better not stay out in the sun too much or you might turn to stone.

    Since you weren’t at the scene, all you can do is take Mr. Watts at his word that he got out of his car to ask why he was being pulled aside. Attempting to bait him into ranting I doubt will get you anywhere (other than to get a rise out of the other people on this blog). It doesn’t matter how he answers (or doesn’t answer) your “basic questions”, you all ready seem to have made up your mind (so much for innocent until proven guilty).

    The details of all sides of the story will come out soon enough (its not like 12/22 is that far away). If Mr Watts was making this all up there wouldn’t have been any need for him to go back and correct details that people got wrong in news stories/blog posts from his own account (like the whole having to walk across the bridge in a winter storm without his coat).

    Its funny you call Mr Watts “arrogant”, “self-righteous” and “juvenile”. Everything I have seen you post here leads me to believe you could apply all of those same labels to yourself.

    Oh, and not everyone here is a “fanboy”. I have never met Mr Watts (and probably never will) and I have never read any of his books (though I have read some of the books written by some of the authors who have supported him through these events).

    Good luck Peter.

  142. @JMG8

    Where to start? Your statement is cluttered so many assumptions about what really happened, you’d fail a first-year logic course. Reexamine your predicates.

    Peter hasn’t put forth the exact sequence of events because there are pending charges, and any exact statement here couldn’t possibly help his case. So you fill in the blanks, badly, and with too many adjectives. You make your assumptions (accusations) of arrogance and self-righteousness, instead of waiting for the details which will eventually surface, and in so doing work yourself into a whirlwind of insults towards Peter, his friends and his fans. I find it revealing that you have come to so many (unwarranted) (unproven) conclusions, given the same paucity of evidence you decry.

    Me? I’m his friend. I know him better than you do, obviously, given what you’re accusing him of, and how (frankly) incapable he is of such Machiavellian maneuvering. (That fact is quite apparent once you’ve met him, by the way. Couldn’t pull off a complicated political stunt to save his life. Keeps trying to be truthful.) I’m choosing to believe his story over the border patrol’s, because he’s my friend. I don’t expect you to do the same. I can expect, however, that in the name of the civility and common sense you think Peter is lacking, if you aren’t convinced by his statements here, and if you require more evidence before you’ll believe that the upstanding members of the United States Customs and Border Patrol would or could do something as horrible as beat and imprison a man for daring to ask “what’s going on here?” as they converge on him in a pack, that until such evidence appears you will Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

  143. [...] himself has since spoken a little bit about the incident (twice actually), but for obvious reasons can only say a certain amount–although in what-appears-to-be [...]

  144. If we concede JMG8′s point that the victim likely singled himself out by his behavior, a legitimate concern remains. Do we want a police force that beats, pepper sprays and imprisons the clueless, obnoxious and arrogant but innocent among us? Should we all have to learn to humbly obey the badge in the interest of police officers’ safety?

    I would rather be responsible for my own safety. And I am so far unconcerned with police officers’ safety, that I would prefer they be forbidden to bear guns, pepper spray, clubs, or any other weapon.

    Does this mean that the vast majority of laws would go unenforced? Yes, and that’s a good thing.

    Give a human being absolute power in a situation, and he becomes absolutely corrupted. Give a human being a badge and a gun, and he becomes a pig pig piggie piggie pig.

  145. JMG8, please drop the Texan accent and put off your hat, if you please.

    It might come to you as an unpleasant surprise, but there are countries, where you do not need to be extremely submissive when talking to government officials. (Hence my questions, and I’ll repeat these here again in hope you’ll be able to answer them this time).

    Now, if you could kindly explain to someone who was not lucky enough to put his feet on the U. S. of A. soil:
    - why is getting out of the car treated as an act of aggression / assault?
    - why asking for reason of the LEO’s action is treated as an act of aggression / assault?
    - is it true, that you’re expected to use the answers ‘Yes, sir’ / ‘No, sir’ when asked questions by a LEO?

  146. I’m posting this simultanously in the comment streams of all relevant newscrawl posts.

    This is a moderated blog. I’ve nonetheless approved pretty much every comment made to this point, including— especially — those of the trolls and LE-apologists, because I figured what the hell: both sides, right? I’ve allowed pros and cons and even lip-smacking threats of buggery from Deliverence hillbillies. I kept silent, and was accused of not answering simple questions. I made a comment, and simply drew in more trolls.

    Enough.

    I have two things to say on this matter before the filter goes up. Anyone whose IQ is set anywhere above room temperature will know that I can not discuss blow-by-blow details of this incident because they are evidentiary: I am not going to hand the prosecution advance details of my defense any more than I am going to announce how much money’s been raised to fight this thing. This case is too important to jeopardise in a futile attempt to satisfy a supercilious doofus like JMG8.

    Secondly, there are those who think that this was an act of grandstanding on my part, that I took pleasure in it somehow, that I was looking for a fight and wanted things to escalate. Think about that. These people are saying that I deliberated waded, unarmed and alone, into a nest of heavilly-armed and ill-tempered border guards who wield as close to carte-blanche on the use of force as you can get outside a Sopranos episode — and went out of my way to provoke them. That I enjoyed it. That I did it for fun.

    These people are idiots.

    Previous posts stand. Subsequent posts at moderator’s discretion.

  147. @JMG8

    “They are law enforcement agents, and it’s against the law to import counterfeit goods. There is nothing complicated about it.”

    This is precisely what’s wrong with your thinking (or not thinking, as the case may be): the fact that it is illegal is all you need or want to know. Not why.

    The reason is two-fold. First, it hurts Rolex’s bottom line. Put in Bush-talk, “Turns out, there’s a connection between people not buying things and the ecomony [sic].” The second is to protect consumers from buying fakes. Of course, if I got a $4,000 Rolex for $50, I might consider that a bargain (though I would know it was a fake simply on the price).

    Mr. Watts, feel free to not post this if you don’t want us to engage this person. I merely mean to point out what Bob Altemeyer’s research shows about authoritarians and why, yes, it probably is about JMG8 being able to sleep at night.

  148. Peter, guys/gals like JMG8 are nothing more than brainwashed right-wing neoconservative chickenhawk Keyboard Kommandos who can talk a lot about how America’s right to do what it’s doing, but can’t join the army to do it. You will come across a lot of these people, but you must not mind them; they’re just looking for a way to exist in the world, only they can’t because it’s changing too much, and they know of no way to cope. So they come on to boards like this, and make comments like that, because it makes them feel really cool to do so (they also do the same shit at You Tube, Think Progress, and anywhere else not in line with neoconservative thought-I love to duel with these cretins at You Tube all of the time, and insult them with what I mentioned above; they insult me back, but I’m a big boy, and can take it.)

    I hope that you can get through this, and that you can win this case against the U.S. government: I support you all of the way.

  149. I don’t know why I’m chiming in. But, wow, JMG8.

    “From what I’ve read, he wasn’t arrested for getting out of his car, but rather for ignoring an order to get back into his car and then scuffling with officers when they tried to restrain him.”

    OK. Just how fast does such an order need to be followed? Are you allowed to repeat a civil question at that point? (Which I can easily see myself doing.) Or does that warrant a punch in the face? Do I have to about-face before I draw another breath? Before he does? Do I have to run to the car? Dive in the window?

    Can a person of such authority order me to do anything? Just because he wants to? Does it matter if I’m Interfering With An Investigation or just bugging him while he’s gossiping? Can he order me to walk into traffic? Hop on one foot? Can he strip me down, point at my genitals and make a funny face while his friend takes a picture?

    How far does his authority extend? Must I cower?

    Yes. Liking Peter’s books, I want to believe he’s a nice guy. This is human behavior, given what I know for a fact at this point. Why would you assume the opposite? Do you know the border guard(s)? Why would you assume they’re nice guys or if not that, just incapable of this mistake? *Because* they have authority?!?!

    You, JMG8, are supposed to QUESTION AUTHORITY. Maybe not continually, but if you never do, you’re part of the problem.

    It seems like someone was being an asshole. We haven’t seen video. Peter has enough of a public/net persona that it’s hard to imagine it was him. What do we know about the other guy(s)?

  150. [...] http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=935 [...]

  151. Peter, sorry this happened.

    You ran into the expansion of the Secure Borders Initiative (Google it for what public information is out there on it). The suggestions about joining in with other people who’ve also had problems with US Customs seems to be the most useful one for the general welfare of most people who might cross the boarder.

  152. @tc et al,

    Feel free to continue to address JMG8 here, but unless he actually posts something substantive his responses are unlikely to make it through the stupidity filter. He made some post in which he claimed that my reluctance to talk about “evidentiary matters” didn’t hold water because I’d been so free to post on my blog and talk to the papers (“concoct your little story” was the way he put it). Either it never occured to him that the whole reason he’s been harangueing me to answer his “simple questions” is because I obviously haven’t addressed them elsewhere — his whole complaint is that I’ve refused to, in fact — or he was just hoping the rest of you would be too dumb to pick up on that.

    Anyhow, he’s still around, reading the posts and scratching at the window every now and then and yipping “coward!” and “censor!” through the spittle. So he probably will see anything you’d like to say in bis direction. But he’s right about one thing: I am invoking censorship here.

    Idiocy gets squashed at the door.

  153. I think here is the crucial point of the JM8 mindset: “he thinks he is special and above the rules.”

    That’s it. Why does Peter get to not put up with crap, when I bend over, take it, and thank my rapist every day?

    It’s the same old medieval thinking — “Why do the Jews get away with X or Y or Z”? Not, I should fight for my rights — no, equality means that everyone is reduced to my status.

    This is not one unique troll — but a common cultural theme. We heard it through out the last elections about the “elitists” drummed over and over again. We’ll be equal if we’re all equally slaves.

    Doms need subs. Subs need doms. And subs hate folks who won’t play their game — who say the game is stupid, cruel, wasteful and inhumane.

  154. I’ve been wary of crossing that border for quite some time, and when some people from work did so, even for work, I absolutely crossed it off my to-do list no matter the consequences. Seeing what’s happened to you, I think that was a good call.

    When I’ve got the cash I’ll be sending some along to you as well. Good luck.

  155. I’d like to attempt to answer the three questions ‘Jubal’ posed in his post on the 15th.

    ” Why is getting out of the car treated as an act of aggression/assault?”

    I doubt any LEO’s treat it as an act of assault but I’m sure they see it as aggressive because the fact is, Leo’s are under constant threat by folks who willingly act to do them harm. How does the LEO differentiate between an honest citizen and a cop hating psychopath? By merely being patient, polite and co-operative you are sending a signal to the LEO that you intend him no harm.

    “Why asking for reason of the LEO’s action is treated as an act of aggression/assault?”

    It depends on the circumstances. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why BORDER GUARDS are stopping you at the BORDER!!! A LEO stopping me for running a red light or doing 75 in a 60 zone is hardly a pretext for an argument. If you want to protest a nations policy ( yours or anybody elses) on how they police their borders, picking fights with the hired help seems like a good example of shooting the messenger. In the context of Dr.Watts case, if he’d stayed put in his nice warm car and waited until the Leo’s had finished their search i’ll bet dollars to doughnuts he’d have received a polite answer to his questions. As Watts had already acted aggressively (see question #1), it’s easy to see how his next move was viewed as aggressive also.

    ” Is it true, that you’re expected to use the answers ‘Yes, sir’ / ‘No, Sir’ when asked questions by a LEO?”

    Absolutely! Is it also true to answer this way to questions posed by senior citizens? Bank tellers? Teachers? Strangers? Tourists? If not, why not??? It’s a sad comment on the state of society when common sence, patience, good manners and politeness are seen as some sort of deviant submissive behavior.

  156. “Blood at the polls and blood in the streets, but Scudder won the election. The next election was never held.”

    -RAH

  157. “How does the LEO differentiate between an honest citizen and a cop hating psychopath? By merely being patient, polite and co-operative”

    With a period right there you make on of my primary reasons for being outraged. In NY, when NYPD was facing serious P.R. problems, they enacted CPR — Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect. There is NO reason why they cannot search while holding to those principles.

    One of my favorite (will have to find the link) posted personal stories about people’s own experiences at borders is the man whose company did not give him the proper paperwork for bringing company samples IN to SOUTH Korea. If any country in the world has reason to be paranoid, it is SOUTH Korea because NORTH Korea is of course run by a paranoid lunatic. Yet the inspector patiently helped the man, did not need to treat him like a terrorist or criminal, but maintained respect throughout the interview and eventually helped the man to get the proper paperwork to continue his business (which is another problem, dwindling Canadian visitation to the US means border towns are losing money, but that’s a post for another time).

  158. PS: “…i’ll bet dollars to doughnuts…”

    Not a chance! Donuts are worth more right now.

  159. O.K. This is ridiculous. Some of you talk like these border patrol guards are always on edge, not knowing if the next car is the one that will be their demise. Some unruly Canadian jumping out of his car with an AK 47 ready to drop a few cops. COME ON! This is the CANADIAN border! I’m sure checking thousands of cars a week results in nothing more than monotony and boredom. What Peter was, to them, was a bit of excitement in an otherwise boring day. How many other people have been treated this badly without the online community of friends that are backing Peter. What scares me the most is how many of you find the behavior of these cops acceptable.

  160. just for comparison:
    http://www.tuccille.com/blog/2007/12/do-police-deserve-deference.html

  161. Best of luck with this. And to all the wankers who’re making comments along the lines of “Oh, he MUST HAVE sassed the cops”:

    Tough titties. Unless he was screaming “Death to America! I’ve got a bomb!”, NOTHING verbal should result in a “suspect” being pepper-sprayed and beaten.

    For those who say “He refused a Police Order by not getting back in his car”:

    Show us the video. This is the only justification I can see for why we have vid-cams and Big Brother Watching Us all the time.

    And NOTHING justifies dumping a released prisoner without adequate clothing in mid-winter. WTF justifies keeping a COAT?!? Computers, techie stuff, even the note-pad… but once you’ve made sure there’s no cache of explosives sewn into the lining, you GIVE THE POOR DUDE HIS CLOTHES BACK! Is a Common-Sense-amputation part of the intake regimen for Homeland Insecurity staff these days?

    As a U.S. citizen, I apologize for my country’s heavy-handed behaviour.

  162. [...] at Clarkesworld Magazine.  Watts also has a blog, which deals with science, technology, and his arrest and beating by American Border Patrol guards.  Damned shifty Canadians and their intolerable politeness.   So, check him out all over the [...]

  163. Peter, I have a question for you. From what you have posted in various places, it looks like while you are quite upset with the behavior of the officers, still, you see nothing wrong with the jury finding you guilty; and even after numerous comments that mentioned jury nullification as something that definitely should have occurred in your case, still, in your video interview you mentioned that idea in unfavorable light. You blame the “statute”, which “makes a felony everything from asking “why” to attack with a chainsaw”, in your own words; but with this statute being the present law, it looks like you fully support your conviction. So I wonder, doesn’t it mean that had you yourself been on the jury, you would also send a person in jail for two years for making the officer to repeat himself twice after having beaten the person?

  164. …also, in the light of the above comment – does your attorney plan to somehow appeal that?

  165. @Vadim:

    “So I wonder, doesn’t it mean that had you yourself been on the jury, you would also send a person in jail for two years for making the officer to repeat himself twice after having beaten the person?”

    No, I myself would not have. I would have decided that the law itself was idiotic and Orwellian; that whether the defendant had done anything technically illegal, he certainly hadn’t done anything wrong; and that the fact the guards had so obviously lied was enough to deny a conviction regardless.

    But that’s just me, and in so doing I would have been saying in effect, “Fuck the court’s instructions: this is just insane.” And I can certainly understand why others would not feel the same way.

  166. [...] at Clarkesworld Magazine.  Watts also has a blog, which deals with science, technology, and his arrest and beating by American Border Patrol guards.  Damned shifty Canadians and their intolerable politeness.   So, check him out all over the [...]