One of the most telling indicators of when someone is lying to you is the lack of specificity to the elements of the story they are telling you. As you all know, on Sunday a convoy of individuals attempting to paint the issue of immigration as an “invasion” of the United States drove through El Paso. There are two facts that we know – they were stopped on Interstate 10 heading east and they cancelled a planned stop in the city to hold a rally highlighting their call to arms against immigration. Everything else are contradictory statements leaving us with the task of determining fact from lies.
As most of you know, I am pro-immigration and in fact, I advocate open borders. However, I try to listen to coherent arguments made by others in an attempt to understand their point of view. Immigration is a highly charged issue with many points of views reaching the farthest reaches of both political spectrums. Because of the complexity of the immigration issue, most communities are left to take a position on the issue based on sound bites made by groups driven by ideological rhetoric. This is true for both the pro-immigration and anti-immigration advocates.
Therefore it does not surprise me that groups will rely on scandalous imagery to drive attention to their point of view. The more scandalous the more media attention a specific event gets. However, sometimes the imagery is nothing but outright lies uttered to create a false reality that does not exist nor is it even conceivable that it had happened.
The so-called Border Convoy is nothing more than a group of individuals looking for their 5-seconds of fame by outright lying about events that are so outrageous that anyone with any amount of reasoning would instantly understand that it was all an outrageous lie to begin with. The people that make up the Border Convoy are nothing more than liars. However, they are a dangerous lot because in their quest for publicity they endanger the communities they visit. For that reason alone, they must be exposed as the frauds that they are.
As an anti-immigration group, I am not surprised to see its membership partly comprised by extremist xenophobic citizens looking to shut down all immigration into the United States. However, the membership has been espousing how they are comprised of everyday “soccer moms” trying to expose a serious problem on the border. Although I believe in open borders, I am not ignorant of problems accompanying immigration because the reality is that there is a cause and effect to migration across the globe. I am also cognizant that some individuals may be perfectly fine surrounded by like-minded, same skin colored and similar cultural individuals because it is what they want. I may not agree but I understand that many people do not agree with me. It is human nature.
Extremism is dangerous no matter the direction it is coming from. Although I should not have been surprised, the Border Convoy took extremism so far that it shocked me as well. Initially what got me interested in this group was their rhetoric about not stopping in El Paso because of “threats”. It was amusing to me because I understood that they were hamming it up to bring attention to their cause. It may not settle properly with people but that is how you get the media’s attention. I also realized that their target audience is made up of gun-ho shoot them where they stand types of people who look unkindly upon those they perceive as retreating from confrontation.
In addition, they also had the problem of how to spin the reality that arguably the community that would better understand the problems of the border, El Paso, was not welcoming to them or their cause. That left them with having to spin the truth into something palatable to their core membership – the lie that there was a threat made. Unfortunately, zealots do not know when to stop and instead of leaving some semblance of individuals in control of their sanity they, instead, went off on some fantasy world where the cartel was preparing to massacre them and they had only minutes to make a run for the border, oops, safety. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself)
That they live in a fantasy world is immaterial, it is the outrageousness of the whole that should not be left unchallenged.
The group is led by “lead organizer” Eric Odom. Odom describes himself on his website as “a tea liberty movement activist, libertarian minded political consultant”. Odom writes that he built the website that was used to organize the tea party movement in 2009. He adds that he “stepped away from the tea party over personality issues, hijacking by big orgs and generally awful messaging tactics”.
Excuse me for a moment while I attempt to digest the “generally awful messaging” comment written by the same individual that describes immigrants as “diseased criminals” or US citizens who do not agree with his mind set as “un-American”. It gets worse though.
He writes that he is now the Director of Interactive Media of Grassfire Nation. Grassfire is an ultra-conservative group opposed to anything Obama related. However as you look through the glossy network of websites it readily becomes evident that Odom is on a mission to make himself relevant in US politics by his extremism and penchant for sensationalized events. Therefore, the lies that I started to unravel should not have surprised me as much. But they did.
I started paying attention to this group when they appeared on my social media feeds for El Paso. Apparently, with much rhetoric they were on a mission to expose the “invasion” of the border as they drove into El Paso. What happened, instead, was that even before they arrived in El Paso they started sending out media advisories declaring that they were cancelling their event in El Paso because of “death threats”.
I criticize El Paso for many things but one thing El Paso is not is rude, crude or threatening to people with different views. Oh, there might be some heckling or showmanship but never has there been “death threats” directed at any visitor. El Pasoans just are not that passionate. What I suspected, though, was that, as they got closer to El Paso they realized that they weren’t going to have the crowds of adoring fans from the epicenter of border that they were hoping to show on their videos.
They probably realized that even framing the cameras carefully two or three supporters weren’t going to cut it for the glamor they were seeking. They probably realized that it would not make good propaganda to show that border communities are welcoming of immigrants.
Their central argument is that the border is wide open to an immigrant invasion so an El Paso community open to immigrants would destroy the fiction they are trying to create. As liars, they figured a simple solution was to create the illusion of a threat and therefore they could have an excuse salted with sensationalism to justify missing their big event on the border.
However, what they didn’t count on was some El Pasoans intent on exposing them for the frauds that they are. As they crossed into El Paso, they were confronted with the shocking realization that their fantasy was about to crash as they were forced to contend with the local police department who ultimately escorted them out of town.
Contrary to their pontificating self-serving rhetoric through social media channels the El Paso police officers escorted them out of the city limits in order to ensure their travel through the city did not result in another dangerous situation for anyone else. However, they had a problem to contend with now. Originally, it appears they were going to broadcast about the “dangers” and continue the lie about a dangerous border.
However, with the news media images of the El Paso police securing their convoy due to a freeway altercation (I’ll publish a first-person account of what actually happened tomorrow) it would be difficult for them to continue the lie about being “threatened” in El Paso.
Keep in mind that many of their supporters are “gun toting, shoot first and ask questions later” type individuals that would look very unkindly upon the convoy members if they admitted that they were intimidated into silence. It would kill the “macho” mystique of their gun-toting brethren. It just wouldn’t do for their movement. Once a lie is told, it is only proper that a bigger one is made in order to hide the original lie.
On Tuesday, August 5, the day after they left El Paso, Eric Odom issued a “Media Alert” that can only be described as beyond bizarre. Odom wrote that “heavily armed” “Operation Secure Our Borders” militia members surrounded their hotel rooms in Van Horn at 4:30 in the morning demanding that convoy members “immediately load up and prepare for a full evacuation”. The media release actually quotes the author as follows “The first knock woke me up, but I didn’t realize what it was and went back to sleep. The second knock sent me to the door to find heavily armed individuals telling me I had ten minutes to be loaded up and ready to evacuate or be left behind”.
Besides ludicrously quoting himself on his own press release, consider that “heavily armed” men told him he needed to pack and evacuate. How many of you would willingly open the door, much less pack up and follow a group of “heavily armed” men? More importantly, how many of you would do so after proclaiming that you had received a “death threat”?
It doesn’t make sense to me and likely does not make sense to you as well.
Unfortunately, it continues to get worse.
Odom goes on to write that that the citizen militia that ordered them evacuated told him “they spotted multiple cartel members watching the hotel”. Odom adds that “county law enforcement officials” later confirmed “the cartel threat”.
Anyone that has ever lived in the region knows that “heavily armed” men in Van Horn would attract attention and would likely make national news. In addition, anyone who has ever lived on the border finds it highly improbable that “cartel” members would surround a hotel in Van Horn much less remain undetected by officials. The imagery that Eric Odom was attempting to create obviously was designed to create a nonexistent reality that would have supported his stated “invasion” fantasy world.
All of us, who have lived on the border or now live there know this scenario is not only an outright lie, but outrageous as well. For Odom it was an attempt to keep his fantasy alive.
In addition, the Fort Worth Star Telegram asked Sheriff Oscar Carrillo about Odom’s Van Horn story. I am sure you already know that the newspaper quoted the sheriff as accusing the “Border Convoy group of making up the entire story”. So much for “county law enforcement officials” confirming the “cartel threat”!
Fortunately, for me liars are easy to expose. Therefore, I wrote Eric Odom a series of emails asking for clarification and confirmation for his claims. What I got back only confirms that everything uttered by the Border Convoy is a fantasy propped up by lies to support Odom’s quest for relevance in US politics.
Here are the emails we exchanged in the order they were exchanged.
This is the initial email I sent him at 1:35 ET on August 5:
“Hello Eric Odom,
I am blogger that writes about El Paso Texas political and drug trafficking issues at http://www.elpasonews.org. I saw your Media Alert titled “Murrieta Group’s National Border Convoy Experiences 4:30 AM Hotel Evacuation…” that your group posted on August 5, 2014.
I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me in regards to the incident for an upcoming blog.
1. Your media release states that a citizen militia group ordered your group to evacuate the hotel your group was staying at. The release states that your group had “ten minutes” to be ready to evacuate. From your description your group was awakened by “heavily armed” men “demanding members immediately load up and prepare for a full evacuation”. At what point did you decide that the “armed” men were trustworthy and allowed them to order your group to leave the premises? Or, were you or your group in prior communication with the armed group?
2. The press release identifies the Citizen Militia Group as the “Operation Secure Our Border”. What kind of identification or bonafides were provided to you, or someone in your group that allowed you to accept that the individuals were in fact who they say they were? Your release states that “some” of your members were not aware that the militia was watching over them. Does your organization keep certain information from your group, and if so for what reason?
3. Your release also states that you had “ten minutes” to gather your belongings and evacuate. How is it possible that your group willingly allowed themselves to be ordered around by “armed” men without stopping and asking yourselves under what authority they did so?
4. Did your group consider for a moment whether the “armed men” might have been criminal gangs attempting to intimidate you, or force your group to leave the area, or worse perpetuate a violent crime against you and members of your organization? If you were aware of them prior to being “awaken” how is it that your group only had “ten minutes” to pack up and leave?
5. In your release you write that the militia group had “spotted multiple cartel members watching the hotel”. Was any proof provided to you that cartel members were watching you, other than county officials making the confirmation? Your press release states that after you had been escorted 45 miles away from the hotel local law enforcement confirmed for you that the cartel threat was real. My question is; how is it that your group accepted the word of “armed men” about a “threat” and willingly followed them to an unknown location?
6. Your press release fails to identify the “county law enforcement officials”. Were they Texas Rangers, local police officers, Sherriff’s deputies or some other type of law enforcement?
7. Your stated goal is to prove “how dangerous the border is”. Did you file any police report with local, State or Federal authorities notifying them of alleged criminal activities by “cartel” members? As citizens of the United States, do you not have the responsibility to notify the proper authorities of alleged criminal activity, or worse a foreign intervention? If you notified the proper authorities could you tell me what agency, or agencies and how you made the notification.
8. Your press release quotes a member of your organization as stating that along the Mexico border it is a “war zone”. Can you describe how you make the determination that the area you were in is a “war zone”? Are there open combat operations by foreign troops or is it combat between federal troops and US citizens? Did you see bodies or hear/see gunfire? I am trying to ascertain under what basis a member of your group is able to describe the border as a “war zone”?
9. Your press release also quotes a member as stating that “dangerous individuals appear in full control of what happens on American soil”. Did you, or anyone in your group personally witness individuals, other than government officials “in control” of certain areas of US territory? If so, can you describe how they were “in control”?
10. Finally, is the individual you quote alleging that the United States government has lost sovereign control of certain parts of the United States? If so, would you describe how it is that the United States government has relinquished control of sovereign territory and to what group, or foreign government?”
I believe those are fair, important and specific questions that someone trying to expose a wrong would willingly answer. I was wrong.
At 4:12 ET, I received the following response from them.
“I’m going to answer all of your questions in one go.
We had communicated with Operation Secure our Borders beforehand and asked them to look in on us. They arrived with the intention of escorting is to next destination. Upon early AM arrival they assessed the threat and made a determination that immediate action needed to be taken.”
First, Odom wrote in his press release that citizen militia groups “were watching over them for their own protection” and yet in the response to me they write that they had communicated with them “beforehand and asked them to look” in on them. He then adds that when the militia arrived “with the intention of escorting” them to the next location they “assessed the threat and made a determination that immediate action needed to be taken”. The question is, which is it, was the militia watching over them, or did they arrive and take action? Some of you might argue that I’m nitpicking his answer however, the group didn’t leave me much choice since I asked ten specific questions and they ignored them.
As I was undeterred, I followed up with the following email at 3:12 ET.
“Would you clarify the following for me?
Can you be more specific about what kind of threat was assessed?
Also, after driving through the majority of the border region do you still feel the border is a “war zone” overrun by cartel and or criminal activity? If so could you be specific as to why you believe so?
And finally, you have stated that you decided to not make a stop in El Paso because of threats of violence. Do you feel El Paso, Texas is pro-immigration and that you message was not welcomed there?”
The group responded at 4:28 ET with the following:
“As far as specifics go, we will not discuss that until after the convoy to ensure we don’t provoke further threats of any kind. Security and safety of our crew is our number one priority.
And we have significant support in El Paso. We had plans to meet with a good sized crowd there and we’ve since gotten a lot of support through social media messages regarding El Paso.”
Notice how they are now pulling the “security” card for subterfuge because they realize that I’m looking for specifics that they cannot give me?
At 6:10 ET I sent the following response:
“I understand your need for operational security however your writeup and answers do not coordinate with what I’m seeing on social media and my personal experience in the area.
For example, you write that you are getting “a lot of support” from social media yet my research only reveals very little support for your cause and significant opposition. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong place and you could direct me to the right place.
Social media by its nature is a public medium and I don’t see how it would affect your group’s security by sharing verifiable comments or social media sites.
El Paso officials have come out publicly against immigration enforcement at the local and state levels, yet you write that you have a lot of support. Social media’s tone is that you were escorted out of El Paso.
Likewise, your press release states the “armed men” escorted your group “45 miles” to an undisclosed location. The Sierra Blanca border patrol station is located approximately 30 miles west of Van Horn. There are federal law enforcement officers there with high calibre weapons. Going west is open country. If there is a threat why not head towards a concentration of federal security forces?”
As I knew, they were avoiding answering my questions directly I needed to egg them on by forcing them to address two very specific questions with as little wiggle room as I could force them into.
I received the following response at 7:20 pm ET:
“We traveled east, not west. And we were then escorted by county law enforcement. And if your intention is to try and prove we have no support in social media, then this conversation is a waste of my time. We have ample support. And it is blatantly obvious any time we post an update.”
Again all subterfuge and no concrete proof.
I was getting nowhere so I directly started to question their honesty by sending the following response at 9:28 pm ET:
“I am just trying to reconcile what you are telling me and posting on your website with what I’m seeing elsewhere.
For example, I looked at your Facebook page and at best I could find maybe two El Pasoans supporting your cause. I did see other supporters from across the country but my focus is El Paso. Other El Paso social media is reporting your group was run out of El Paso. I didn’t see much support from El Paso on either Facebook or Twitter. If I missed something let me know.
Likewise you just wrote that you were escorted by county law enforcement yet the Fort Worth Star Telegram quotes the local Sheriff as saying that he wasn’t even aware of your group’s presence in the area. In fact the sheriff is quoted as stating that your group made up the Van Horn events.
Residents in Van Horn are disputing your version of the events that you posted on your website.
Both accounts can’t be true.
I’m trying to give you the opportunity to provide me with your side of what has transpired.”
The response? Zilch, nada, except for a post on their Facebook page trying to prove me wrong.
Funny how they refer to me as a “media hack”. Me, the person continuously going on about news media incompetence is a media hack! It would be funny if they weren’t such liars.
So I tried one last time.
Yesterday morning I sent them the following at 10 am ET.
“I saw where you posted on Facebook asking supporters to show me how much support you have. As a reminder, my specific question to you was how much support do you have in El Paso. There is no doubt there is support from across the nation because immigration is a very polarizing national topic.
Your stated purpose being to bring awareness to a border “invasion” I thought it important to look at how much support your group has from arguably the epicenter of the US-Mexico border. Of the 160 comments I was able to only count about two to three individuals who actually live in El Paso.
Maybe I missed some. However, if there is a serious border “invasion” I would think you would have found significant support in El Paso for your cause. Yet, it seems to be the opposite as evidenced by your group bypassing El Paso as a rally point.
How do you respond to that?”
Their response? You guessed it silence. This is because they want mindless drones regurgitating their propaganda to keep their lies going.
Notice how when it became apparent to them that I wasn’t just going to take their versions of events unchallenged they ended communicating with me. Notice, also, how they rely on ignoring questions and telling other lies to avoid answering uncomfortable questions in order to keep the lies going. A lie always lacks specificity.
Tomorrow I’m going to share with you a first-person account of what actually transpired as they drove through El Paso. You don’t want to miss it.
El Pasoans keep letting know how you feel about them on Facebook! And feel free to let them know I called them liars!