US citizens protest Border Patrol checkpoints, refuse questioning, post videos online

Motorists wait in lanes of traffic heading into the United States from Mexico at the U.S. border crossing in San Ysidro, California (Reuters / Mike Blake)

More and more YouTube videos document citizens’ resistance to the Border Patrol at checkpoints throughout the 100-mile zone along US borders. In some cases, motorists are waved through. In others, they are violently arrested and detained, simply for refusing to answer questions or consent to searches.

In one example, cited by Houston Chronicle reporter Dane Schiller, a Texas truck driver was forcibly removed from his truck, arrested and held for several hours after telling officers he was “opting out” of discussing his citizenship. Navy veteran Thomas Sauer, 26, says he lost his job as a result.

As he was being arrested, “they told me I had the right to remain silent,” Sauer told the Chronicle.

Even though Border Patrol agents deleted Sauer’s cell phone video of the encounter, he was able to retrieve it using a data restoration service. The 19-minute video has nearly 150,000 views on YouTube.

Rick Herbert of California, who refused to consent to move his car into an inspection area and have it searched, was dragged out of the vehicle in front of his crying wife and 4-year-old son.

Border Patrol cannot legally pull motorists from vehicles just because they refuse to answer questions, James Lyall of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Houston Chronicle. “Everyone has the right to remain silent and can’t be compelled to answer,” he said.

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures” of people and property. In practice, says the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Border Patrol agents “routinely ignore the limits of their legal authority.”

These problems are compounded by inadequate training for Border Patrol agents, a lack of oversight by CBP and the US Department of Homeland Security, and the consistent failure of CBP to hold agents accountable for abuse,” says the ACLU website. “Thus, although the 100-mile border zone is not literally ‘Constitution free,’ the US government frequently acts like it is.”

Roughly two thirds of all Americans – over 200 million people – live within the 100-mile border zone where the CBP is authorized to set up checkpoints. Eleven states are entirely in the zone, as are nine out of ten largest US metropolitan areas. In 2014, Arizona Republic journalists estimated there were approximately 170 checkpoints around the US.

Our enforcement presence along these strategic routes reduces the ability of criminals and potential terrorists to easily travel away from the border,” reads a CBP pamphlet quoted by the San Diego Union-Tribune in a December 2014 feature.

The US Supreme Court upheld the legality of CBP checkpoints in 1976, but said the agents could only ask about US citizenship. To do conduct further inquiries, they are required to have a probable cause.

To say people should not stand up for their rights reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to live in a democracy,” ACLU’s Lyall said. “Rights aren’t worth a damn if you can’t exercise them.

Reason magazine posted a video of what an ideal, constitutional CBP stop would look like:

RT – Daily news

‘Iran could constrain reckless impulses of US Mideast allies’

European Union Political Director Helga Schmid (L), European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini (C) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wait with others for a meeting with officials from P5+1, the European Union and Iran at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 31, 2015 (Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

RT: Hopes are high that the six world powers and Iran who have been holding talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne will reach a deal by Wednesday evening. What kind of document do you expect to come out of these talks?

Hillary Mann Leverett: I would assume at this point we can still really think of only a vague document coming out of these talks. There does not seem to be agreement on many of the details, much of the substance that would be detailed in the final agreement.

But that is not really the purpose of what they were trying to get by [Wednesday evening]. This was supposed to be a political understanding of what the agreement would entail, and a final agreement then would be drafted by June 30. So my sense is that if we get an agreement it will be focused more on a reaffirmation in a sense of a core bargain that they struck back in November 2013: that the parties would proceed toward resolving this conflict by Iran agreeing in negotiated contacts to constraints on its nuclear program in exchange for comprehensive lifting of sanctions.

READ MORE: Nuclear deal with Iran ‘reached on all key aspects’ – Lavrov

And that is where I think the parties have really got stuck, because the comprehensive lifting of sanctions is something that is not technical. It doesn’t involve nuclear physicists at the table, it requires real political will. And I think that’s where we’ve seen the brinkmanship.

RT: If a deal is agreed on, what kind of reaction is it likely to trigger on Capitol Hill?

HL: I think the reaction will be negative, regardless of what the deal is. Some people in Washington, I think, disingenuously claim that it depends on whether it is a ‘good deal’ or ‘bad deal’. But there is no ‘good deal’ for many of the lawmakers in Washington, the 47 senators who sent this letter to Iran, there’s no good deal for them with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their agenda is regime change. They would be happy for an Iran under a kind of Shah, an American puppet, to have nuclear weapons. But they are not really interested in an independent state to have any nuclear weapons. So I think they would oppose any deal.

I think because of that reality, the focus of the talks in this session has been not so much, not I really think at all, on the US sanctions, but how to really put that in its own box and deal with something more internationally. The focus has been on the UN sanctions, which Congress has no say over. The United States could agree to lift UN sanctions in five minutes. I saw it done on Libya; I saw it done on Sudan. The United States can do it in five minutes; they don’t need to consult with anybody in Congress. And that is what I’m talking about in terms of political will.

It’s up to President Obama whether he will agree and literally pick up the phone and call the UN ambassador and say: “Either vote for the lifting of sanctions or abstain.” It’s all he needs to do. That’s a question of political will; the rest of it is really just political posturing.

RT: The Republicans have warned that any deal with Iran might not survive after Barack Obama is out of the White House. Should we expect the US to make a U-turn on Iran in subsequent years?

HL: We’ve actually seen a bad scenario of this happening in the past. In the late 1970s under President Carter, his administration had negotiated the SALT II treaty with Moscow, with the Soviet Union. And the way he sold it was as if was a “technical agreement,” that we were “imposing meaningful curbs” on the Soviet Union’s strategic capacity. The Congress defeated it. It was a devastating failure for President Carter.

We could potentially be looking at something like that if President Obama plays the same game by saying that he’s essentially going to hold his nose while he is negotiating with Iran and just try to focus on a narrow technical agreement. He needs to make the case, the strategic case why a fundamental realignment of US policies in the Middle East toward the Islamic Republic of Iran is imperative for the United States, that after a decade of disastrous military interventions in the Middle East, the United States needs a different way. It needs a constructive way forward with Iran. But he has not done that. Instead, my concern is that he is following President Carter’s route. Essentially Carter’s view was that the Soviet Union was an unreconstructed adversary, evil empire in a sense, and he was just going to hold his nose and try to get the SALT II treaty passed. Well, he lost the election in 1980, we got Ronald Reagan, and that was the end of that.

RT: If a deal is reached, how is it likely to change regional dynamics for America’s main allies in the region Israel and Saudi Arabia, who both strongly oppose a deal?

HL: I think it will be very good for the United States. After the end of the Cold War, the United States has gone through a period I think some would call of arrogance, essentially trying to impose its dominance on various regions of the world, including the Middle East. And those who want to go along with it, we characterize them as allies, when they are not really allies per se, they are just going along with the United States. What we really need is constructive relationships with each of the critical powers in the region so that they can restraint even the reckless impulses of our so-called allies. It’s not in our interests when Israel bombs Lebanon, Israel bombs Gaza. It’s not in our interest when Saudis invade Yemen. If you have a better relationship with Iran, it will constrain these reckless impulses of even our allies, and allow the United States to get off this dangerous trajectory of trying to impose its own military dominance on the region.

RT – Daily news

US military ‘antagonistic spectacles’ put ordinary Europeans’ lives on the line

Reuters/Thierry Roge

READ MORE: Romania will host NATO heavy arms if asked, as they support ‘every venture’ – bloc chief

RT:Does Europe really need this huge show of American strong armed bravado?

Marcus Papadopoulos: Let’s say it as it is. That American military parade was dangerous, provocative and foul-hearted, and it is aimed at Russia. And it is hardly conducive to ensuring peace and stability in Europe, in regard to the European sentiment. Have the people of Europe been asked whether they want an American military parade going through their countries? No they have not. And it is all very well for policy makers in Washington to come up with these antagonistic spectacles because they don’t live in Europe, because they don’t live near to the Russian border. And of course Russia is going to interpret that American military parade, quite correctly, as being very, very aggressive. And the European people don’t want to get caught up in a potential conflict between America and Russia. Because that of course could mean potentially devastation for them.

RT: What is the public opinion in the areas of Eastern Europe where all these personnel carriers are rolling through?

MP: Well it is certainly the case in Germany, in the Czech Republic, that thousands of people object not just the American military parade but to the American military presence in their countries. Because, once again, they are extremely fearful of getting caught up in a potential war between Russia and America. And until policy makers in Washington understand that it is ordinary peoples’ lives potentially on the line here, then we will keep on seeing these parades.

RT: The military here is saying this show is needed as a show of strength for Russia, because of inherent danger from Russia. What inherent danger is there from Russia to these countries?

MP: Well the notion being put forward by Washington that Russia is a threat to European security and stability, quite frankly is just preposterous nonsense. Everyone watching this interview should take out a map of modern day Europe, look at the Western borders of the Russian Federation from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, with the exception of Ukraine, they are littered with EU and most importantly NATO member states.

Let me emphasize that – NATO member states. That means that the Western military alliance is on Russia’s border. Now who is being the provocative one? Who is being the aggressive one? How would America react if a Russian-led Western military alliance was in Canada and in Mexico. The Americans did not like it when Khrushchev put the ICBMs in Cuba. We saw their response. Why shouldn’t Russia not be allowed to have national security?

RT: That is a very good point. But the average person on the street looking at this are wondering where is it going to go next?

MP: Well that’s the $ 64,000 question. Personally I don’t believe that there will be a WWIII between Russia and America, because both countries have been in this situation before. And after the Cuban missile crisis, this hotline was installed in the White House and in the Kremlin. However all it takes is one wrong interpretation, all it takes is one accident and of course the world could be engulfed by WWIII. Who would be responsible for that? Well once again – have a look who is on Russia’s Western borders.

RT: At the moment the relations between Russia and the West are at the lowest they have been since the end of the Cold War, is it going to get better any time soon? And who needs to make the first move?

MP: Well I think everything at the moment is stemming from Ukraine and Russia quite simply cannot countenance Ukraine becoming a member of NATO. Because if that happened that would mean that the West has succeeded in placing a sanitary cordon on Russia’s Western borders. And if that happened Russia’s influence in Europe would be drastically decreased and thereby in the world would drastically decrease. But Americans on the other hand seemed determined to…

RT: The Americans don’t seem to have any respect for that…

MP: Absolutely, ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union the Americans have been very clear that in order to safeguard their global dominance, they must make [sure] that Russia remains a weakened country. They achieved that in the 1990s but of course since President Putin came to power things have changed. And that is what they are not happy about.

RT – Daily news

Carter: ‘Too early to say’ US is winning against ISIS as Iraqis liberate Tikrit

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (Reuters / Yuri Gripas)

I think it’s too early to say that we’re winning, but I think we have certainly inflicted a lot of damage,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie during a visit to his old high school in Pennsylvania. The key part would be assembling the local forces on the ground that could “sustain the defeat” of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Iraqi forces successfully liberated Tikrit after a month of fighting, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Tuesday. The city, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Baghdad, had been under IS control since June 2014. US airstrikes began last week to help the stalled Iraqi ground offensive.

Read More: US launches Tikrit airstrikes as Iraqi offensive stalls

The Pentagon confirmed US airstrikes have continued this week, with eight overnight strikes against IS positions near Tikrit, the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and the Kurdish-held town of Kobani in northern Syria.

The success of the Tikrit experiment will be repeated in other areas,” al-Abadi told Iraqi media.

It’s the lasting nature of the defeat that’s really the key,” Carter said in the TV interview, echoing his comments to US troops in Kuwait during his February visit. A lasting victory, he said then, would require “those who can take responsibility for their societies and their territory after the campaign against ISIL has rid them of this scourge.”

It will take some time to inflict defeat upon ISIL,” Carter told Guthrie. “We’re still building the coalition and building the forces, and that’s why I’m hesitant to say we’re winning. I’m confident we will win.

The loss of Tikrit is the first major defeat for the Islamic State since the retreat from Kobani in October 2014.

Carter is on a two-day tour of Pennsylvania and New York, speaking to students and soldiers about reforming the Pentagon in order to create the “force of the future.” Today’s youth, he said, don’t want to go into big, rigid institutions, but prefer something “agile, nimble and inspiring.

Read More: Pentagon’s ‘Force of the Future’ drive could ease job recruitment standards

The top civilian at the Pentagon also commented on the current conflict in Yemen, nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the controversial prisoner swap involving Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, charged last week with desertion and misconduct.

We do have a principle,” Carter said, declining to comment on any details of the case. “We bend over backward in trying to return an American serviceman.”

Read More: Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl charged with desertion

Any agreement on Iran’s nuclear program “cannot be based on trust,” the secretary said, but “has to be based on verification.” If the deal falls through, or is violated, “the military option certainly will remain on the table.”

Asked to comment on the war against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), disrupted by the recent conflict in Yemen, Carter said the US was “going to continue to prosecute our counterterrorism operations against AQAP whatever happens on the ground there,” but would “have to do it in a different way.”

Read More: Creepy Veep: Joe Biden chalks up another sensational ‘snuggle’

Much of the media coverage of Carter’s interview focused on him shrugging off the scene from his inauguration, when Vice-President Joseph Biden hugged his wife and whispered to her. Carter said he “laughed” when he watched the video clip of the scene.

They know each other extremely well. We’re great friends of the Bidens,” he said.

RT – Daily news

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