At a White House press conference, Mark Morgan was asked about several incidents in the past year in which journalists coming through various U.S. border-control points reported being harassed, and in one case detained for several hours, by CBP officials.
“Let me say that any journalist — right? — that is stopped and harassed and treated improperly because they’re a journalist is absolutely unacceptable, unequivocally,” Morgan said, according to a White House transcript. “We, proactively, if we see something in an article, even if it hasn’t been reported, we’re going to report it to our Office of Professional Responsibility. Because here’s one thing we can say: We can disagree all we want, right? I learned from Lieutenant General Lear a long time ago: Disrespect doesn’t mean disagreement. Right? And there’s a little thing in the country called freedom of speech. So anything that we do that would impede that, we are going to hold people accountable as unacceptable, 100 percent.”
Morgan did not explicitly mention the harassment last Thursday of Defense One News Editor Ben Watson at Dulles International Airport. In that incident, a CBP passport control officer held Watson’s passport until he received an affirmative answer to the question: “You write propaganda, right?”