Top Priority: The Terror Within

Have you seen this new documentary “Top Priority: The Terror Within” about Julie Davis (ukrainian born immigrant – i’d like to someone to double check her own immigration history and steps she has undertaken to obtain legal status/green card/citizenship), the Border and Custom control agent who reported the serious security issue to FBI and got to experience blow-back of crazy proportions by DHS and ICE. In the end she persevered and got cleared from all charges in the court of law and wrote a book and had a documentary made about this ordeal. Reviews are mainly supportive as far as the cause being investigated although the style of telling the story doesn’t bode well with any of them. It doesn’t appear to be investigatory documentary rather than visual story telling as it leaves lots of raised questions unanswered. I haven’t seen the movie, but my impression so far that they are trying to capitalize on the story (most likely totally made up) by stressing elements that are not so much about the issue, but about how to appeal to general public.  Anyhow if you consider her as targeted individual who’s been vindicated in the court of law it would be interesting to find out if there are some lessons to be learned from this case. She never mentions any of the psychological harassment tactics – it’s all about hard disruption tactics.

A total of 54 retaliatory investigations have been commenced in an attempt to discredit Julia as an upstanding law enforcement officer and a staunch American patriot. Julia Davis, her family members and witnesses who dared to support her were subjected to land and aerial surveillance, to the tune of millions – at the expense of American taxpayers. This included warrantless aerial surveillance with fixed-wing airplanes and Blackhawk helicopters, vehicular surveillance, OnStar tracking, Internet monitoring, wiretaps, warrantless searches and seizures and series of other outrageous, unwarranted retaliatory measures.

Incorporating dramatic re-creations, computer simulations, hysterical graphics and the seemingly incessant sound of helicopters, “Top Priority” tells the story of Julia Davis, a Ukrainian immigrant-cum-U.S. Customs officer stationed at the San Ysidro border-crossing in San Diego. There, Davis reported a seemingly critical lapse in security that occurred July 4, 2004: Twenty-three citizens of “special-interest countries ” — aka terrorist nations — managed to cross into the United States without the required interrogation or paperwork, at a time when Homeland Security had fixed the Fourth of July as a likely time for an Al Qaeda encore to 9/11.

She makes some interesting observations on her blog (archive.org) (why would you take a photo of yourself with Karl Rove?)

Leakers and whistleblowers are often incorrectly placed in the same category by the press. The main difference between the way the government approaches these two distinctly different groups is that leakers are prosecuted for their leaks to the media, while whistleblowers are usually attacked in more covert ways and accused of unrelated ”offenses” as a pretext for retaliating against them through the use of our legal system that was supposed to protect them. They get transferred, demoted, reprimanded, accused of sexual offenses or misconduct and eventually fired, prosecuted, crushed. Very few come out intact on the other side of the whistleblower grinder, while the government cranks up the handle faster than ever.

The press tends to profile the leakers more often than whistleblowers. There seem to be two prevailing reasons for that: (1) leakers are often the sources for some of the best stories and (2) their stories are more straightforward, since they’re charged with offenses surrounding their disclosures. Retaliation against whistleblowers often morphs into completely unrelated accusations and prosecutions that on their surface are not related to their whistleblowing disclosure (but at heart are the very reason for the persecution in question). Those are more complex stories that are being left up to the authors and filmmakers to untangle, while the mainstream media concentrates on Weinergate, celebrity break-ups and similar trivial pursuits.

Related links:

IMDB Terror Within website

Reviews:

variety (archive.org)

nytimes (local copy)

villagevoice (archive.org)

About her case (archive.org)

her blog: http://juliadavisnews.blogspot.com/ (archive.org)

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