The quick investigation into border agents only finds administration embarrassment, so no result is delivered.
Despite outraged speeches and promises of a swift inquiry into the matter of border agents whipping illegals, what has become of all the furor behind the news item that began as a media conflagration but became a journalistic embarrassment? The promises of an expedient inquiry into the matter have led to what, exactly? The answer is: Nothing. Wild accusations of USBP agents abusing migrants have delivered silence, and stasis instead.
As false anniversaries go, I am rarely a fan. Last year, as an example, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer commemorated the 9 month anniversary of the January 6 riot, for no discernable reason. But here we have a case that not only bears significance but becomes more revealing with each day that ticks by. A farce of journalism and heavy servings of governmental ineptitude took place half a year ago, and while every participant is understandably shamed by it they need to be reminded.
It has now been 6 months since DHS launched an investigation into false claims that horseback border agents in Del Rio “whipped” Haitian migrants. Secretary Mayorkas pledged it would be done in “days, not weeks.”
Still not done, & the involved agents remain off patrol duties.
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) March 22, 2022
Six months ago the story broke across the news landscape that border patrol agents were caught on film corralling Haitian residents crossing the Rio Grande, and they commenced to whip these migrants while on horseback. There were layers of motivations behind the journalism set running rampant with a story based on some still photos; there was inherent drama, it fit in with the narrative of insurgent migrants being sainted figures, and it could be used to further Biden’s permissive border policies.
And, obviously, it meant they were able to offset blame onto the prior administration. This could not be blamed on Joe Biden, despite his series of executive orders which thematically flung open the doors at the border, so this was characterized a holdover from the previous President who had a history in the press of unethical border policies. The natural tendency to demonize Donald Trump made this story too good to resist.
As it turned out, it was also too good to be true.
The furor kicked off when The El Paso Times ran a story by Martha Pskowski on Sunday, September 19, about an incident witnessed at the border. Some Haitians were making a river crossing into this country and they were met by USBP agents on horseback. Accompanied by photos, she detailed, “Border Patrol agents on horseback cracking whips and charging into crowds of Haitian asylum seekers.” Another description was an agent, “swung his whip menacingly.”
The next day, some other pictures emerged, from photojournalist Paul Ratje, and the media firestorm began. Many major players either echoed the initial report, or they weighed in with fiery commentary. Emblematic of this hysteria was CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who that Monday night went full bore into the hype.
“Yes, as an image, to me, it does smack of a bygone era, of slavery, aided by reports of people being beaten, whether with a riding crop, or the reins, most likely. that’s how they decided to deal with the situation. So, the question becomes, get to the bottom of it. Find out who said it was OK? Why was it OK? Tell us.”
The Biden administration was no less overreactive. Jen Psaki was heard saying, “I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.” Then the President himself weighed in on that Friday. Note he did not utter concern and call for a reasoned look into the matter – he convicted the agents involved without due process. “I promise you, those people will pay,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday that week. “There will be consequences. It’s an embarrassment. But beyond an embarrassment, it’s dangerous. It’s wrong.”
Then Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, took the metaphorical reins of the incident. On that Tuesday, he declared none of the actions were permissible. “We know how to conduct an investigation,” he said. “We have investigators who are looking at it independently. They will draw their conclusions, according to standard operating procedures, and then the results of that investigation will be determined by the facts.” Those facts became deeply inconvenient, very quickly.
By Monday afternoon, there was a flurry of responses from common sense-afflicted folks suggesting that whips were an overhyped description of riders using reins. The first sign of story trouble was when the El Paso Times quietly corrected its report, suddenly saying its reporting team saw one agent swing his reins towards a person, and the horses had charged at crowds, not through them. Undeterred, and uninterested in performing investigations, the media narrative continued.
Then came the crushing blow to the narrative. That photographer, Paul Ratje, came out by Thursday, September 24 to say that his photos were being described out of context and that he never witnessed anyone being whipped or strapped by the border agents. Then a video of that very incident from another photojournalist surfaced on the 24th, and it reveals a very different tableau. Consider first, all the histrionics we were served from the press about this incident, and the hyperbolic commentary attached. Now watch the scene in real-time and note the divergent visuals.
Sorting through my footage from the border. I was in the river during the viral incident between a Haitian migrant and mounted CBP agent. It's shaky – but here's what I captured. pic.twitter.com/fnvxSU83tO
— Sarah Blake Morgan (@StorytellerSBM) September 24, 2021
No whipping is found, and no horses are charging into crowds of innocents. Instead, we see agents trying to contain illegal entrants refusing to follow commands. The days of hysterical talk about our nation being yanked back centuries to the era of slavery were exposed for the melodramatics that they obviously had been. And the administration was completely caught in an untenable position.
Biden and Mayorkas were still leaning on the outrage well after the story had been debunked, but they could not backtrack, and Mayorkas has been shown to be a completely inept leader of DHS. On Friday, the 24th, he was still clinging to the narrative. Peter Doocy, of Fox News, pressed Mayorkas on his position the whipping was uncalled for and what he would say now that the matter was clarified.
Actually, it was on Monday, I believe, uh, when I was in Del Rio, uh, on the ground, uh, and I made the statements without having seen the images,” Mayorkas said. “I saw the images on the flight back, and I made the statement that I did with respect to what those images suggested.”
His appearance on CNN was on that Tuesday, after he saw the images. And he was still selling the concept of those agents acting inappropriately. He said to Brianna Keilar, “One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child. That is unacceptable. That is not what our policies and our training require … We will not tolerate mistreatment.”
Later that same day, Mayorkas appeared before Congress. He declared flatly that not only was he looking into the matter via an investigation, but he also pledged that the matter would be closed in a matter of days, not weeks. We are now at the six-month mark, and the man who claimed We know how to conduct an investigation has shown that he has no concept on how to conclude one. There has been no report from his investigation.
The agents involved who had been reassigned remain consigned to their distaff duties. There have been zero commentaries from DHS regarding the fiasco. The Washington Examiner looked into the matter in January, and there was no information to be found. No action has been taken. No discipline has been handed out to any agents. After a brief call to end the mounted USBP division, agents on horseback are currently in use at the border.
It seems that the Mayorkas investigation is about as adept at collecting the facts as Biden’s border policies have been in collecting illegal entrants to this country.
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