Exclusive: ‘The Oath’ Documentarian Laura Poitras Has Had Her Reporters Notebooks Photocopied by Customs Agents

Last week, documentarian Laura Poitras was at USC for a screening of her brilliant documentary “The Oath” — which follows Osama Bin Laden’s former bodyguard Abu Jandal through his life as a taxi driver in Yemen. Earlier this month the New York Times reported that Poitras’ extensive travel in Yemen during her making the film, may have put her on a government watch list. But, at USC, during a Q&A session after the film, Poitras revealed some fascinating information that the NYT’s piece lacked.

Not only do Customs agents question Poitras as a matter of routine upon her reentry into the United States, they’ve photocopied her reporters notebooks repeatedly.

“I’ve been questioned at airports since 2006 after finishing My Country, My Country,” Poitras tells FBLA. “When I started traveling to Yemen in 2007 is when my papers, including notebooks, were photocopied upon re-entry to the U.S.

“I’ve been questioned over 20 times at airports, though my notes have been copied perhaps 6-8 times. Lately I’ve denied to the photocopying consent which has been respected (although not on my last reentry frying from Toronto — my papers & business cards were copied).”

Poitras says the exchanges are always polite and she’s not questioned when she flies domestically. Still, scary to think about the government photocopying reporters’ notes as a matter of routine.

Trailer for “The Oath” after the jump:

Publish date: May 24, 2010 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/exclusive-the-oath-documentarian-laura-poitras-has-had-her-reporters-notebooks-photocopied-by-customs-agents/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT