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US Customs and Border Protection photo, hup! hup! hup!

Yesterday, about a dozen Democratic members of Congress visited border detention centers run by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) near El Paso, Texas, to see as much of the conditions there as CBP would allow. Which wasn't much. At about the same time, ProPublica published a story revealing the existence of a secret Facebook group for current and former CBP members who joked about the deaths of migrants and posted hilarious cartoons, like one showing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about to get raped by Donald Trump. Not surprisingly, the congressional delegation wasn't pleased, because liberals are snowflakes who cant take a joke.

The congressional visit also led to some spectacularly bad "reporting" by a scribbler from the rightwing Washington Examiner, accusing Ocasio-Cortez of scaring the poor overworked Border Patrol guys by yelling rudely at them and then refusing to take the tour they worked so hard to arrange.

Here's that shocking SCOOP, by Anna Giaritelli:

The poor terrified CBP dudes must have been worried she'd lock them in an overcrowded cell with no room to stand, withhold their medications, and take their kids from them, we bet.


The reality, it turns out, is a tad different, according to another member of the congressional delegation: No, Ocasio-Cortez didn't scream or threaten anyone, but for some reason, she wasn't happy about a "tour" that didn't include meeting with any detainees.

As for Giaritelli's SCOOP, it's about what you might expect from the reporter who brought us that story in January that revived the old "Muslim Prayer Rugs" on the border trope. So score another one for journalistic bonafides (hat tip to Jordan Uhl for the reminder).

As for real journalism, the ProPublica story was reminiscent of recent reporting on closed Facebook groups where cops post viciously racist, sexist, and anti-Muslim comments and imagery. Unlike that earlier investigation, however, the reporters weren't able to actually get inside the Border Patrol group, which is invitation-only. Instead, ProPublica received screenshots of several recent discussions -- we'll assume from a CBP member who was disgusted.

Created in August 2016, the Facebook group is called "I'm 10-15" and boasts roughly 9,500 members from across the country. (10-15 is Border Patrol code for "aliens in custody.") The group described itself, in an online introduction, as a forum for "funny" and "serious" discussion about work with the patrol. "Remember you are never alone in this family," the introduction said [...]

ProPublica received images of several recent discussions in the 10-15 Facebook group and was able to link the participants in those online conversations to apparently legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents, including a supervisor based in El Paso, Texas, and an agent in Eagle Pass, Texas. ProPublica has so far been unable to reach the group members who made the postings.

And what sort of funny and serious discussions of day-to-day work do the members of 10-15 like to post, to blow off steam when they're not being the heroes who keep America safe? How about some amusing discussion of immigrants dying in Border Patrol custody?

In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, "Oh well." Another responded with an image and the words "If he dies, he dies."

Internet Experts on Twitter were quick to point out that lots of people in high-stress jobs, like cops, firefighters, doctors, and nurses, also respond to things with "dark humor," although others replied that in general, decent people in such jobs tend not to respond to patient deaths on their watch with a shrug emoticon ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) Ha-Ha. Some kind of mindset difference there, maybe.

A follow-up story today, focusing on CBP officials' damage control efforts, included additional excerpts from the group, like this charming discussion by Real American Heroes:

[One] thread made fun of a video of a migrant man trying to carry a child through a rushing river in a plastic bag.

One poster wrote, "At least it's already in a trash bag."

Another wrote, "Sous-vide? Lol," referring to a method of cooking in a bag.

Over the weekend, a 30-year-old Guatemalan asylum-seeker died in ICE custody, and we can only imagine the mirth that must have occasioned in their brother officers on the secret CBP Facebook group.

The screenshots in the original story also included a lot of commentary on the announced visits by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- and other members of Congress -- like Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas. For instance, this amusing idea to throw burritos at 'em, haw haw (just blowing off steam from a stressful job defending America, remember).

Another wit suggested the congressional delegation should "hand out warm burritos and take in the smell," because what's funnier than a burrito joke when you're talking about certain people? Another commenter added, "There should be no photo ops for these scum buckets," which turned out to be pretty prescient, since members of Congress had their phones taken away from them during the tours of each facility.

Of course, the amusing racism was the least of it, since other posts got considerably more graphic.

Perhaps the most disturbing posts target Ocasio-Cortez. One includes a photo illustration of her engaged in oral sex at an immigrant detention center. Text accompanying the image reads, "Lucky Illegal Immigrant Glory Hole Special Starring AOC."

Another is a photo illustration of a smiling President Donald Trump forcing Ocasio-Cortez's head toward his crotch. The agent who posted the image commented: "That's right bitches. The masses have spoken and today democracy won."

If you want a picture of democracy, imagine Donald Trump raping Democrat ladies' faces, forever. He won, after all. Remember, we must honor the heroes and respect their free speech. Quick reminder, as noted in the reporting on the racist cops' online groups: The Supremes have upheld firings of cops who've made racist/bigoted statements, because such attitudes endanger the equal protection rights of the public.

Not surprisingly, members of Congress were outraged, though not especially surprised.

The head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Joaquin Castro, reviewed the Facebook discussions and was incensed. "It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection," said Castro, a Democrat who represents San Antonio. "These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers." He added that the agents who made the vulgar comments "don't deserve to wear any uniform representing the United States of America."

Following the congressional delegation's visit to the Border Patrol facilities, Ocasio-Cortez and others told reporters about the conditions inside:

They described a visit with a group of more than a dozen Cuban women housed in a crowded cell without running water who reported going weeks without showers.

Ocasio-Cortez said one woman said she was told by Border Patrol officers to drink out of a toilet. "And that was them knowing that a congressional visit was coming," the visibly angry lawmaker said in an interview. "This is CBP on their best behavior, telling people to drink out of the toilet."

She later took to Twitter to clarify that, no, she did not mean the sink part of the all-in-one plumbing fixtures.

Rep. Norma Torres of California confirmed in an NPR interview today that the women in the cell really did mean they'd been told to drink water from the toilet bowl. She added that this information never would have come to light had the delegation not demanded -- against CBP's wishes -- to go inside the cell and talk to the women.

Needless to say, very smart people on Twitter decided the toilet story had to be bogus, because where were the photos of women having to do that, huh? Smart move of CBP to take away most of the phones, although Castro apparently managed to sneak a phone in despite the ban, and tweeted video of women sitting on the floor of a crowded cell.

Yr Wonkette is also pretty dubious about those nice thick blankets (sleeping bags?), which look new, and we're just cynical enough to believe they were only provided for the sake of the congressional visit. But look, there's some bottled water in this video, proving that Ocasio-Cortez had to be lying, because one video shows all conditions in all cells for all time.

Following the publication of Monday's ProPublica story on the secret Facebook group for racist assholes in the Border Patrol (surely the first time racist assholes have ever been found in the agency, other than forever), CBP announced it would investigate:

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees," said Matthew Klein, head of the agency's internal affairs unit.

Klein said CBP "immediately informed" the investigators with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and initiated an inquiry. The office typically takes the first look at allegations of serious misconduct within the CBP.

Former Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd, who now advocates for migrants, told ProPublica she wasn't optimistic about any action being taken against the racists in the Facebook group.

"When they sit there and say, 'We're not going to tolerate this,'" Budd said, "they are, I'm just going to say it, lying."

Still, we bet all this attention will motivate them to clean up their act and not allow any more congressional visits.

[ProPublica / WaPo / ProPublica / Buzzfeed News / NPR / Intercept]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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