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On Strip Searches and Press Freedom in North Dakota

On Strip Searches and Press Freedom in North Dakota

Amy Goodman, Denis Moynihan

Monday was a cold, windy, autumnal day in North Dakota. We arrived outside the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan to produce a live broadcast of the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Originally, the location was dictated by the schedule imposed upon us by the local authorities; one of us (Amy) had been charged with criminal trespass for “Democracy Now!“‘s reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline company’s violent attack on Native Americans who were attempting to block the destruction of sacred sites, including ancestral burial grounds, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

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This is intimidation, and it is an attack on freedom of the press, which Thomas Jefferson considered paramount in any would be democracy.

Which is really the point I wish to make - ‘would be democracy’.

For in my opinion, that is the unvarnished truth. In the USA and Canada today, there are no true democracies, where the people have their say and are respected and their views count.

The screws are being tightened bit by bit.


Thank you, Amy Goodman, and Democracy Now, for resisting this move to silence reporting that does not conform to the Washington Consensus.

The US mainstream media is often critical of that lack of press freedom and arrests of journalists in other countries. In contrast to their critiques of the treatment of journalist in other countries, with all but a few exceptions (The TakeAway interviewed Amy Goodman and the NY Times had an Oct. 17th piece regarding the judges dismissal of charges against Amy Goodman) US mainstream media outlets and journalist have chosen to remain silent on the government attempt to silence Amy Goodman, documentary film maker Deia Schlosberg, and reporting on the Native American resistance.

I have tried to get in touch with journalists from mainstream media outlets regarding the treatment of Amy Goodman and Deia Schlosberg. To their credit, journalists from NPR are the only ones to have responded. However, in communications with the journalists from NPR, I have found attitudes ranging from dismissive to disdainful. NPR journalists with whom I’ve communicated seem to convey the notion that journalism that is critical of the Washington Consensus is not journalism.


Anywhere the press is being told to stay away from, is the very place that the press should be reporting from.

The law enforcement agencies in this locale are clearly trying to intimidate the press into not reporting on this story.

So where is the press?
Thus far they’ve been acting like cowards or like the bought and paid for plutocratic flunkies that they are.
The media in the United States is one huge joke and anyone who works for it should be ashamed of themselves…


Hi marlborough,

My sense is that there are a large number of progressives journalists and pundits who have come to a consensus on the ‘lesser evil’ strategy. I disagree with this strategy because I feel that:

  1. Hillary Clinton’s plutocratic friendly economic policies will continue to funnel wealth from the poor to the rich.
  2. Hillary Clinton’s anti-whistle blower and security state tendencies will further domestic surveillance and repression of whistle blowers/critics.
  3. Hillary Clinton’s unsustainable economic and energy policies will wreck havoc on the environment.
  4. Hillary Clinton’s militaristic approach to foreign crises will ensure more drone killings, signature strikes/crowd killings, special operations massacres, and proxy wars.

Now that it is clear that Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President, I wonder if you have noticed a shift in the lesser evil policy.

Progressives are now being directed to vote for Hillary Clinton to ensure that she has a ‘margin’ of victory necessary to stand up to the right wing Republican congress (See: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcmanus-election-margin-matters-20161012-snap-story.html ).

I expect that, when in office, the tactic of fear will be used as part of efforts to direct progressives to put aside critiques of Hillary Clinton’s plutocratic friendly economics, militarism, etc. That is, I expect that progressives will be directed to fall in line lest their critiques of Clinton embolden a right wing resurgence.


Indeed, this should be the focus. And I hate to quibble, but if your real concern is the strip searches of others, and you’re really doing journalism, you need to ask people arrested on similar charges, unrelated to the water protection, whether they are strip searched. I would guess everyone coming into custody is, as it’s how jails have to run these days. The authorities are not particularly concerned with humiliating anyone in particular, but neither is anyone exempt from humiliating treatment because they don’t fit the “profile” of most of those arrested. It’s the pipeline company (which hired the dog troops) that’s interested in seeing the Protectors and their allies humiliated. It won’t go much further, because the federal DoJ is weighing in on the side of the Protectors. And they are even more powerful than DN.

One thing that Amy’s reporting, at Standing Rock, proved to me, is the term, presstitutes for the majority of MSM reporters is an apt one, because most are concerned more about their salaries than reporting the truth!

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In the eyes of the mainstream media in the USA.

Protesters in USA that are arrested are criminals and felons.
Protesters in Russia that are arrested are freedom fighters and love liberty.

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We brag that in the US, we are civilized, a model, we have, “the rule of law” where what happens to a suspect is determined by rules of law rather than ulterior agendas or whims of those exercising power.
Those bending the rules so as to punish or humiliate in order to serve agendas outside the purposes of the laws they are purporting to enforce should be routinely routed out and punished, or else we should drop the pretense that in America we have the rule of law - we have a police State.


Does the US gubmit protect anything other than corporate profits ?

Murkin septionalism they call it, right ?

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When will our public servants start serving the public? The zombie-sycophants who willingly serve the goons are the lowest denominator of humanity. Despicable.

You are correct there–strip searches are automatic, and the Supreme Court okayed it.

Strip searching people for low-level misdemeanors is really like psychological torture of the citizenry by the fascist scum in power.


In the state of Texas about four or five years ago, a policeman was singled out for something like twenty-five strip searches, all young women, at random traffic stops. The man was convicted. Another case, in New Mexico, a man refused a strip search during a stop for not using his turn signal. He was taken to a hospital, which refused to do a more intense invasive procedure, then taken to another hospital where xray and other omplex procedures were done. Nothing found.He also sued and won.
I started searching "body cavity searches ", state by state, and found at least one reported case in every state.Random cases were reported in foreign airports as well.Then, all of a sudden, I couldnt find a record of any anywhere.
My conclusion, new powergames to play, everyone trying them out, quickly buried news. There were no racial factors in any of the reports.


A strip search at a traffic stop is a very different thing from a search on admission to a jail.

An even more absurb situation for body invasion.

“Once arrested BOTH intimidation and humiliation are used to wear down those ‘arrested’. It is noteworthy I think that the relatively recent stand offs with the Bundy ‘land use protests’ didn’t involved such aggressive tactics.”

The “Bundy Bunch” was a white, rancher gang" taking over federally managed public land. Like the oil gangs, they wield considerable political power with local, state and federal politicians. Like the oil and other large corporations who use our political and military forces to over run people, especially poor and indigenous people, to steal their natural resources here and abroad, the Bundy gang probably would have succeeded if they had been smarter in their tactics. The rich, corporate oligarchs have been using the military to steal from people what they could not take with bribes. While most of this has been done in overseas countries and in more isolated areas in our own country, it is now coming to a neighborhood near yours. We must come together and support the Standing Rock Sioux as in reality they are defending all of us. A large outpouring of support from us by the hundreds of thousands will send the message that real trouble is just over the horizon. It just possibly could force government to start investing leadership and our tax dollars in green energy jobs and research. The future of all life on Earth depends on it. The Sioux, and other supporters of theirs, could just be the first page in a new chapter of human history. The abuse these people are taking on behalf of all of our rights can not continue to be tolerated or allowed.

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I hate to quibble, but the DOJ is stalling for time so as not to put any bumps in the Clinton campaign. If the DOJ was doing their job Hillary would be indicted for her emails and what they revealed. Jill Stein is the only way forward.


“Strip searching people for low-level misdemeanors is really like psychological torture of the citizenry by the fascist scum in power.”

I would describe this as “as cruel and inhumane” punishment.


The Constitutional phrase is “cruel and unusual.” The problem is that it’s all too common. As long as they strip search every incoming prisoner, these 3 (only 3 mentioned) unfortunately have no complaint.