Biden’s Red Queen Justice: Long After the Sentence, the Biden Administration is About to Render a Verdict on the Border Agents

Below is a slightly augmented version of my Hill column on the report that the Biden Administration will go forward with administrative punishment for border agents who were falsely accused of “whipping” Haitian migrants in Texas.

Here is the column:

At the height of the Stalinist purges, Soviet internal affairs minister Lavrentiy Beria famously boasted: “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”

U.S. Border Patrol agents may be wondering if the Beria standard is back in vogue with the Biden administration. The reason: Fox News has reported that the Department of Homeland Security is moving to charge several agents with administrative violations after they were falsely accused of whipping Haitian migrants last September in Texas.

The agents likely felt their fates were sealed the minute that President Biden promised to punish them, before an official investigation had even started. Either the president was wrong, or the agents must be guilty … of something.

The controversy began when the Border Patrol responded to a large influx of undocumented migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on Sept. 19. Officials ordered a mounted unit to an under-defended part of the border. Mounted units are commonly used by federal, state and local police agencies for crowd control. The agents found themselves facing a large group of Haitian migrants crossing the border, and they positioned themselves on the river’s edge to block entry.

A photographer captured the scene, which included agents using bridle reins to guide their skittish horses. While the entire videotape clearly shows the agents using the reins on their mounts, not on the migrants, some clearly misleading still shots appeared to make it look like the opposite was happening. Condemnations immediately erupted from politicians and pundits; some media reports presented the abuse allegations as fact — as the “whipping (of) Haitian asylum seekers.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) declared that the alleged whipping was “worse than what we witnessed in slavery” and condemned “the cowboys who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decried “images of inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol — including the use of whips,” and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) described the incident as “white supremacist behavior.”

For his part, President Biden rode the wave of media outrage, declaring: “It was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did: horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay.”

Of course, the Soviet Union’s Beria was a model of efficiency compared to Biden’s Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, who promised last September that the investigation would be “completed in a matter of days, not weeks.” Then months dragged on, and Mayorkas and his department went into virtual radio-silence.

The problem for Mayorkas was that the whipping story was not just false but was clearly false from the outset. The photographer who captured the images of the incident, Paul Ratje, stated within the first 24 hours that it was false and “nobody saw a Border Patrol agent whipping” migrants. That was obvious from the videotape, too.

However, the president, some congressional Democrats and many in the media had already adjudicated the case. The agents had to be guilty of something.

So, the agents wallowed in suspension for months. On the six-month anniversary of the incident, I wrote a column on President Biden’s “Red Queen Justice,” noting that the case followed a “classic response to such scandals [which] is to bury them in investigation to wait for public attention to wane.” I noted that officials also could avoid responsibility “by changing the question. For example, what began as an investigation into whether agents used reins to whip migrants might be converted into a long investigation into the use of horses in crowd control operations. That will take a lot of time and, when the report is issued, the actual whipping allegation can be buried in a broader policy debate. That will allow the media, as well as the administration, to focus on the policy as opposed to the personnel involved.”

It is not clear if the administration will clear the agents of whipping migrants, though such a charge would presumably have been treated as a criminal matter. Moreover, it is not clear why, if such an assault did occur, it would take nearly ten months to find a violation. Whipping migrants is not commonly treated as an administrative matter.

If the Fox News report is true, however, the border agents may be found guilty of still unknown administrative offenses.

For many in Washington, the important thing would be that the agents are found guilty of something — anything.

It is all reminiscent of how President Biden rushed to public judgment about the fatal shooting of two men and the wounding of a third during riots in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020. At the time, Biden strongly implied that accused shooter Kyle Rittenhouse was a “white supremacist” despite no evidence supporting that claim. Even after many accusations about Rittenhouse were debunked and a jury acquitted him of all criminal charges, Biden said publicly that the verdict left “many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included.”

Similarly, after protests in Washington’s Lafayette Park in June 2020, Biden repeated a now-debunked claim that the park was cleared with teargas to enable a photo op for then-President Trump, an allegation that falsely impugned the integrity of then-Attorney General Bill Barr. From the outset, there was ample evidence undermining that claim, but neither Biden nor many in the media waited for an investigation to establish the facts. Later, the Justice Department’s inspector general disproved the claim.

Now, as with those previous debunked claims, Biden knows he will have a cooperative media that is unlikely to challenge his version of what the Border Patrol agents did — because they are equally invested in the earlier, inaccurate condemnation of the border agents’ actions.

In announcing the agents would be punished before an investigation had even begun, Biden — like Alice in Wonderland’s Red Queen — insisted on “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.” The agents likely do not hold out much hope, given how there has been little acknowledgment, let alone an apology, from the president, who remained silent for months after his original claim was debunked.  They will finally have the verdict to go with the sentence . . . the offense, of course, to be named.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

125 thoughts on “Biden’s Red Queen Justice: Long After the Sentence, the Biden Administration is About to Render a Verdict on the Border Agents”

  1. Jonathan: You often cite polls in support of whatever claim or position you are advocating. Here is a new poll you probably won’t like or cite. A new poll by ABC News indicates 6 in 10 Americans believe Trump should be criminally charged for inciting the insurrection on Jan. 6. 6 in 10 also believe the Jan. 6 House Committee is fair and impartial in its investigation. And this latest poll comes even before the Committee has completed its hearings or issued a final report. When a significant number of Americans want a former president criminally charged that’s breathtaking.

    In a previous post (6/13) you said the “Democrats undermined the legitimacy of their investigation by breaking the long tradition of bipartisan and balanced membership on such special committee”. Apparently 6 in 10 Americans don’t agree with your assessment. Even Trump now says it was a “bad decision” for the GOP not to be represented on the Committee. Last year Trump denounced the panel–calling it a “Democratic trap”. GOP Senators followed up by refusing to agree to a Dem proposal to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate Jan. 6. with an equal number of Dems and Republicans. Trump now recognizes that was a “foolish decision”. So if the Jan. 6 Committee is not, in your words, “balanced” you can hardly complain. Trump and the Republicans shot themselves in the foot and now they have to live with that fateful decision.

    1. The polls prove one thing: that it is the GOVERNMENT itself, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS, and their PROPAGANDA media pushing out the biggest load of misinformation, disinformation and lies in order to influence public opinion.

      The “work” of Pelosi’s J6 Committee is not to be mistaken for anything but pure propaganda and lies shoveled onto the public by lying Democrats and their fake news media.

    2. Dennis:

      Would that poll be based on the edited footage of the event, in which the part where Trump said “let your voices be peacefully heard” was cut out? Was it based on coverage that didn’t have Trump’s words, at all, but instead a tidal wave of pundits claiming he incited a riot?

      Would it be based on the media that called the Democrat burning and looting of Democrat cities “peaceful protests” and glossed over Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrats blatantly inciting insurrection?

      The media no longer reports the news, but rather deliberately shapes public opinion through fabricated propaganda. Then it polls its audience and gleefully claims that they’re just reporting public opinion.

      For years, violent riots was the albatross hanging around Democrats’ necks. Deny it though they would, we all have eyes. Once the small riot on January 6th occurred, in which most participants simply trespassed and took selfies, Democrats suddenly declared a clarion call against right wing riots. They tell their naive followers to just disregard, ignore, and forget about Democrat riots, arson, looting, assault, and murder which terrorized Democrat run cities for over a year. Ignore the city blocks seized in an “autonomous zone”, a euphemism for a literal local insurrection. Forget the assaults, property damage, and littering of Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy ICE and Occupy Border Patrol. Forget all that happened, and pretend that riots is a problem for the Republican Party. Instead of laughing, the fools do it! The media ran with this blatant propaganda, and it’s now a common talking point, that the party of whose 99.999999% of their rallies were actually peaceful, and they picked up after themselves, is somehow the party of insurrection. It takes a serious suspension of critical reasoning, a high level of cognitive dissonance, to fall for that.

      Yet people do. Why do you think that is?

      1. All good questions, Karen! Actually, the fact that you posed the questions illustrates one glaring omission from the so-called “hearings” – cross examination. That missing element makes it possible for the Committee to weave its chosen elements into a convenient narrative. Here is another question for those who are inclined to praise the activities of the Committee and the attendant media coverage: Why isn’t this Committee (or anyone else for that matter) exploring the reasons for the lack of adequate security at the Capitol on January 6, 2021? Why have the communications, if any, between Ms. Pelosi and/or members of her staff and the Sergeant at Arms or other appropriate personnel been made public? Would that information run counter to the desired narrative. I might add that, even though this miniseries has now given rise to discussions of potential criminal liability for #45, the jurisdiction of the Committee is limited. Remember the “separation of powers.” It is kind of Stalinesque, isn’t it? Wake up America!

        1. Typo alert. I meant to say: “Why have the communications….,,NOT been made public?”

        2. “Why isn’t this Committee (or anyone else for that matter) exploring the reasons for the lack of adequate security at the Capitol on January 6, 2021?”

          Why do you ask a loaded question? You assume your belief to be true, despite not having evidence that it’s true, and ignoring counterevidence.

          1. Why do you ask a loaded question? You assume your belief to be true, despite not having evidence that it’s true, and ignoring counterevidence.

            Huh? What counterevidence exists that proves there was adequate security at the Capitol on January 6, 2021?

            1. Read more carefully.

              The loaded question was “Why isn’t this Committee (or anyone else for that matter) exploring the reasons for the lack …?,” when that person is simply assuming that the Committee (or anyone else for that matter) isn’t exploring the reasons for the lack.

              1. I read just fine. That’s how I know you claimed the individual was ignoring counterevidence. You can either prove the claim, or you cannot. You keep stepping on the very rakes that put out there.

  2. The average voter sees through the Dem’s attempts to demonize the American public and law abiding citizens. However 92% of the Press hides and lies about this administration’s and the Dem’s truly malicious intent while manufacturing fake rage against conservatives. It has left those who vote Dem and only read/view MSM totally ignorant to the full story and unable to think critically — just like fascists want them to be.

  3. Here’s hoping that the Border agents, in the event of an adverse personnel action, will have access to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and that the ALJ and the Board will ultimately protect their rights

  4. The current occupant of the WH is a place marker. His official schedule usually has one to three light meetings and he is often at his home in Delaware. He is marched in front of a crowd with a teleprompter when necessary and if he is lucky, he may manage to read what has been written for him. A low to mid level executive has a packed schedule and the higher one goes up the ladder of responsibility, the more seconds count.

    If one has any doubts, go back to the video of the WH event where former President Obama attended. Biden is wandering around by himself and tries to get the attention of Obama and is ignored.

    Who is pulling the strings? Why is the corporate media complicit? What is their agenda? What is their strategy? What are their tactics?

    A person who has played their fair share of card games and games such as Battleship understands that the more cards are dealt the more the opponent can ascertain the other player’s intentions. Citizens are witnessing a complex and deliberate effort to upend the United States of America, traditional values and the rule of law.

    Fair minded people, no matter what political party they have ascribed themselves to in the past, can sense something amiss. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue in the traditional sense or by the traditional rules. This is something else. Something disturbing and evil.

    1. A relatively small group of sociopaths is seeking to create a new world order, abolish the nation-state, create one world government, one world health, one world fully “vaxxed” to facilitate ‘surveillance under the skin’ and a CCP-model of social credit scoring to take control over populations. NWO = The elite and the slave-class. The sinister take over of the world has been planned for decades and is being implemented right now by a small group of psychopaths led by Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum, Bill Gates (of hell), WHO, UN, et al. It is the Build Back Better agenda.

      They CAN BE STOPPED if enough people wake up and resist, peacefully. Do not acquiesce. Do not go back to sleep.

      1. Perhaps go the Bartleby the Scrivener route: respond to their machinations with an “I would prefer not to.” Quiet resistance. Refuse to be regarded or treated as a “human resource”. Are you to be plundered and exploited and eventually outmoded?

    2. ” Citizens are witnessing a complex and deliberate effort to upend the United States of America, traditional values and the rule of law.”

      Yes. By all appearance, too many in leadership have lost their minds and their grounding. Rather, they are trying to ungrounded the rest of us for their benefit.

      They ought to be in the running for a slew of Academy Awards or Oscars for their performances. I’d rather give them a different sort of Oscar and through them out with the garbage at this point!

  5. One more example of why Biden is not fit to be president. His cognitive impairment is on display every day, then we get incidents like this where his ‘facts’ don’t match reality but his become the facts that prevail regardless of the evidence and regardless of justice. How much worse is he going to get before 2024? If he doesn’t resign, Biden must be removed under the 25th Amendment. The sooner the better for the sake of the country.

  6. Biden knows even less about horses and their gear than he does about human beings. Maybe he should spend a couple of weeks living and hiding in the Smithsonian Zoo. Even the adopted dogs quickly got the picture and moved on. Maybe talking to flowers might work out for him though wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

  7. It’s Woke Criminal Justice. Only the accusation is important, not the evidence or context or anything else. I hope this is a true conversion for James and he will now go and register as an independent or a Republican. In the 1950’s it was called MaCarthyism but we are going to need a new moniker. Shumerism, Pelosiism, Watersism, Star Chamber Justice all come to mind but still not catchy enough. BCJ-Biden Criminal Justice. Lot of things fit this now and not just criminal law. Social Justice, Education (indoctrination) , Medicine-where only the intent is pertinent but without the science behind it.

    Coming from the Medical world I can legitimately say that it has been plagued but hucksters, charlatans, and monstrous actions for centuries.

    Too many cases even now of pushing the treatment even before the science is there to support. Things like the NEA having a say in mask recommendations also occurring. Medicare has had a panel for decades which looked at treatments and surgeries to determine if they were supported by the science and if so would then cover it. If deemed experimental then by law it was not covered. Many insurers and health plans used that Medicare determination to determine their own coverage. Any medical director or health plan director had to her conversant in that knowledge. Many of the Transplants and similar procedures we use today were not covered at first because they had no supporting data that they aided survival. As that data came forth coverage was extended.

    I wonder what the panel is doing these days and who has a voice there, especially in light of coverage decision made by courts, and non medical people and social movements.. To quote a line a from CincPac during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, “The world wonders”.

    1. “ It’s Woke Criminal Justice. Only the accusation is important, not the evidence or context or anything else.”

      Didn’t Trump do exactly that with Hillary Clinton and others? Calling for “locking her up” without any evidence or context seemed to be perfectly legitimate for republicans. Heck they relished in pushing those accusations even after no evidence showed any criminal conduct.

      “ Too many cases even now of pushing the treatment even before the science is there to support. Things like the NEA having a say in mask recommendations also occurring.”

      Masking is not a medical treatment. It’s a preventative measure that has been effective for centuries. Masks are worn during surgery for a specific reason. It helps minimize the spread of germs or other contaminants on a patient.

      Masks were there to minimize exposure, not stop it completely as many wrongly believed.

      1. TDS as always. Maybe you could limit your comparisons to just the Time President Trump was President. That is the core of the entire post. THE GOVERNMENT, is pushing the persecution. Specifically the Administrative state. Although Garland has showed no hesitancy to abuse his power, ie, Local School Boards

        1. President Trump was part of the government when he declared his political rivals as criminals.

        1. It claimed its political rivals were already criminals and called for them to be locked up before any investigations or court hearings. Trump deemed them guilty before any due process. Turley complains about biden that the border agents will be punished before any investigations or court hearings. Turley obviously left out the fact that Trump did too.

          1. I didn’t ask you what Trump said about his political rivals. Every politician across the political spectrum will make statements about their rivals that may or may not be rooted in fact. I asked you what actions his administration took to actually punish his political rivals. In this case, the BP agents aren’t even political rivals, they’re his employees. They were cleared of the allegations, but because Biden has no honor, he can’t apologize. He owes them that at least that.

      2. Trump wasn’t wrong about Hillary and the FBI. They did set him up and they did spy on him. She should be locked up. The propaganda they spew works on you. Wake up.

        1. Wen Bars,

          “ Trump wasn’t wrong about Hillary and the FBI.”

          Yes he was. Hillary was deemed guilty long before any investigations or court hearings. After extensive investigations nothing was found to be criminal.

          Wallowing in ignorance is your problem not mine.

  8. The left is nuts. Anybody who claims otherwise is nuts too. It’s plain to see. They hate America and what we stand for. Good riddance. Liars, and dividers.

  9. The U.S. Border Patrol agents involved in this incident should get together and very publicly sue (for defamation) the media, the President of the United States and every member of Congress for every time they uttered or implied the false claims that the Agents whipped the illegal immigrants. These Agents deserve to have their day in court to publicly confront their false public accusers and make them pay for the repetitive lies that were clearly stated to publicly defame the Agents. This cannot stand!

    1. It’s quite challenging to sue a sitting President for defamation, as is clear from E. Jean Carroll’s suit against Trump.

  10. “ If the Fox News report is true, however, the border agents may be found guilty of still unknown administrative offenses”

    Well we all know how often Fox News lies since it is currently being sued for defamation in a case that is very likely they will lose.

    Turley didn’t criticize the Trump administration for doing the same thing. Trump constantly made promises to jail his political opponents, especially Hillary Clinton and others. There were always threats of criminal punishment before any investigations were conducted. This is nothing more than Turley’s commonly known hypocrisy.

  11. The Democrats jump from one pool of 💩 to another. Whipping illegals, White supremacy, racism and now LGBQRST+-@*€¥• or whatever is in vogue. Meanwhile gas is over $5 and the economy is shot in the ass.

  12. I just can’t do it. I can no longer support our Democratic party in any way, shape, or form. This is madness, and everyone *knows* it’s madness, including the administration. They simply don’t care, and it is crystal clear at this point when their approval ratings have certifiably spontaneously combusted that their strategy henceforth is to fabricate, obfuscate, double down, and steamroll. It can’t stand, and it is impossible to distinguish from the fascist regimes of the past century. Enough.

  13. And our lefty posters will respond with their “Yes, but…” obfuscations.

    Except for Jeff Silberman who will tell us what Turley should have said.

    Lefties are often intellectually dishonest.

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