Detained in the U.S.: Filmmaker Laura Poitras Held, Questioned Some 40 Times at U.S. Airports
The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras discusses how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States. Poitras said the interrogations began after she began working on her documentary, “My Country, My Country,” about post-invasion Iraq. Her most recent film, “The Oath,” was about Yemen and Guantánamo and follows the lives of two past associates of Osama bin Laden. She estimates she has been detained approximately 40 times and has had her laptop, cellphone and personal belongings repeatedly searched. Tonight she is leading a surveillance teach-in at the Whitney Museum in New York City with our other guests, computer security researcher and government target Jacob Appelbaum and National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney. Poiras is currently at work on a film about post-9/11 America. This interview is part of a 5-part special on growing state surveillance.. Click here to see segment 1, 3, 4 and 5. [includes rush transcript]
Transcript [Also Available as Video]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are William Binney, who was technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. He worked with the NSA for almost 40 years, National Security Agency. We’re also joined by Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher.
You two have something in common with each other. You—every time you come into the United States by plane, you are stopped, you are searched, you are interrogated. Laura Poitras, tell us about your experience. Your latest one?
LAURA POITRAS: Right. Well, I mean, I’ve been stopped at the border since 2006, since I started working on a series of films looking at U.S. post-9/11. And so, I’ve been—I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve been detained at the border, but it’s, I think, around 40 times. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Four-zero.
LAURA POITRAS: Four-zero, right. And on this particular trip, lately they’ve been actually sending someone from the Department of Homeland Security to question me in the departing city, so I was questioned in London about what I was doing. I told them I was a journalist and that, you know, my work is protected, and I wasn’t going to discuss it. And then, on this particular occasion, I landed at Newark Airport, and they—what they do when I’m flying, they do passport control inspection at the gate. So they make everyone who’s deplaning show their passport. And so, that’s how they—
JUAN GONZALEZ: So they don’t even wait for you to get to Immigration.
LAURA POITRAS: No, I don’t get—I don’t get into Immigration. I get the escorted treatment from—
AMY GOODMAN: So they make everyone show the passport, until they get to you.
LAURA POITRAS: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: And then they take you off the plane.