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. Punish tourists at J6, but leave Democrats alone.

    Democrat congressman’s staffer caught defacing posters in Capitol complex, but DOJ won’t prosecute

    Case of Rep. Jake Auchincloss’s chief of staff certain to renew debate about dual justice system after same U.S. attorney’s office that prosecuted J6 defendant declines the case.

    Capitol Police caught Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Jake Auchincloss’s chief of staff defacing posters outside the Capitol complex office of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and referred him for criminal charges, but the same U.S. Attorney’s office that pursued the Jan. 6 defendants declined to approve an arrest warrant, according to police documents and interviews.

    pictures at:

  2. “The world has changed.
    I see it in the water.
    I feel it in the Earth.
    I smell it in the air.
    Much that once was is lost,
    For none now live who remember it. ”
    ― J. R. R. Tolkien
    – opening dialogue of “Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring”

    Few people realize that JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” was greatly influenced by the current events of his time. As a WWI veteran and a Christian writer, he employed the moral tradition known as “realism” to describe the existence of evil and man’s duty to squash it.

    J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lesson About Evil for Our Time
    Tolkien watched with dread the rise of ideologies unleashed in the war’s aftermath: communism, fascism, Nazism and eugenics.

    The encroachment of Mordor (evil) on a complacent people (Hobbits), the worshipping of a powerful ring “Precious”, man’s hunger for power, his eliminating non-compliant people, these and other themes run throughout LOTR, just like during his time, just like in America today. How will it all end?

    I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

  3. OT

    “Chief Justice Roberts Could Lead High Court to Compromise on Abortion”

    – Newsmax

    If comrade Roberts leads the SCOTUS to a “compromise on abortion,” he must be impeached and convicted, with extreme prejudice, for the crimes of high office of dereliction, subversion, usurpation et al. – for acting politically and legislatively, and failing to act juridically, and for failing to do his duty per his sworn oath to support the Constitution.

    There is no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution.


    Abortion is a matter for State legislators.

    Every American knows it.

    This is anti-Constitutional behavior on the part of judges and Justices must be abolished and terminated now.


    Lincoln taught high officials that they are above the law and may ignore it at their pleasure as despots and tyrants.

    This commandeering of American law by those who are charged with supporting it is over.

  4. Joe Biden cannot admit his administration made a mistake.

    They will most likely give these agents a RIP and that’s it.

    Even that’s not deserved.

  5. “Biden says he WON’T visit Ukraine during his trip to Europe after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went to Kyiv for the second time”


    darn. Was so hoping he would attempt opening the door of Air Force One inflight over the Atlantic to show off his muscular strength and keen intellect.

    Jump, Joe, Jump!

    – Dr Jill


  6. For those of you who complain that the Jan 6 committee is not impartial because there are no members on the committee who are cross-examining the witnesses, do not overlook the fact that none of us here are able to cross-examine Turley’s statements because he refuses to accept any of our questions. Just like the committee, his blog is a one-sided view.

    Remember that.

  7. “Turley is enraged that Kyle Rittenhouse even had to face trial for shooting people in the street.”

    I’m not sure but it looks like Anonymous the Stupid might be using an address that is likely to cause removal of his and all following posts. He has done this before. i could be wrong in this instance, but he could be back to his spiteful ways.

    Thank goodness Kyle Rittenhouse had a gun and could defend himself from those monsters that would have killed him or anyone else. If I needed protection I would hire Kyle immediately.

      1. Because he has done this before.

        I wrote: “I expect the following comments to be deleted.
        Anonymous the Stupid #1 “You’re obsessed with anonymous commenters. Seek psych help.”
        Pretend ATS friend #1 “He certainly is.”

        Followed by: “Guess what Anonymous the Stupid, both your comments were deleted as I predicted. Your reply, “Inflammatory bs by S. Meyer.” was also deleted.”

        Followed by: “There is no end to the Stupidity of Anonymous the Stupid. Here is an excerpt of three more comments that were deleted as well.

        #1 “I’m feeling no pain at all.”

        It must be the drugs or alcohol.

        #2 “I’m feeling no pain at all.”

        I am waiting for leftists like you to fry each other like they did in the French Revolution.

        #3 “Gotta run, pal.”

        Could it be that Anonymous the Stupid has learned something?

        (Note, it seems #3 hasn’t yet been deleted.)”

        The surrounding comments are explanation enough. The comments were deleted as predicted. The discussion tells one who the party’s were.

      2. Do you think we don’t know who you are as well? Others have detailed your life’s history.

  8. I’m currently reading “The Gulag Archipelago”. Jonathans words ring true about Russians arresting anyone and everyone for anything they wanted. It’s scary how much we look like the old communist U.S.S.R.

    1. I recently picked up a copy after watching a recorded speech Solzhenitsyn gave to a university. My mother read the book when it came available to the public. I hope to dig in soon.

      I agree with your comment and am afraid we are headed in that direction.

  9. “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”

    – Lavrentiy Beria, Head of Soviet Secret Police

    Biden’s communist (liberal, progressive, socialist, democrat, RINO) handlers saw horsemen in Texas using the tools of their trade, and ordered up a crime for the campaign, if not a real crime, an administrative crime.

    Anything for a “fake” sound bite.

  10. “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.”

    But DHS hasn’t said this publicly.

    So we should all wait and see what DHS actually says before assuming that Fox’s allegation is true.

  11. Those horses are owned by Border Patrol. Joe Biden has maligned them. If his Administration succeeds in preventing BP from ever using mounted patrols again, what will become of the innocent horses who faithfully served their riders, and didn’t run over anyone? What will happen to the animals Joe Biden lied about?

  12. “[T]he Biden Administration will go forward with administrative punishment for border agents . . .”

    Do your job correctly — get punished. Not an ideal culture in which to be productive.

  13. Any politician who forces BP to stop using horses in crowd control should be required to volunteer for crowd control on foot himself or herself. They should be the ones on the ground in front of an enormous, angry mob a breath away from violence.

    A well-trained law enforcement horse is golden.

    1. If there is any sort of punishment I hope the agents appeal, as far up as they need to to be vindicated, and that the Republicans use this as part of the 2022 election. I hope the agents also consider suing Biden, Mayorkas, Harris, Watters and other politicians, as well as media outlets, who defamed them.

      1. I agree, except it’s a David and Goliath proposition to fight the full power and funding of the US government.

  14. Border Patrol riders and their horses have been wrongfully and maliciously maligned. They are owed an apology.

    Those were split reins, not whips, and they were not used to strike anyone in any way.

    Those innocent horses did not trample anyone. Horses are used in crowd control, wherein a man on the ground would just be run over by a mob.

    The Biden Administration’s pro-illegal-immigration policies is what put that mob on the border. We’ve had millions of illegal border crossings thanks to Biden. Enough Fentanyl has crossed the border to kill every man, woman, and child in America, thanks to Biden. We’re headed into a recession thanks to Biden, and our already strained resources will now have to care for millions of people who broke our laws, thanks to Biden. But I can’t really focus all my ire on the ninny in the Oval Office. After all, he’s just administering the far Left policies of the Democrat Party. Get anyone else with a “D” in front of their name in the White House and enough of them in Congress, and you’ll still have open borders, massive crime, increased murder, and teachers will explain to your children without your permission that they can change their gender any time they want, and will get lots of attention for doing so, putting them on the path to becoming a eunuch or sterilized, mutilated female. That’s what “transgender” is a euphemism for.

    Justice for Border Patrol and their horses!

    Vote responsibly.

    1. Creepy Joe’s ego will not allow him to admit error of any kind. So, whether the agents were guilty or not, they are guilty. God, I’m glad I don’t work for that guy.

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