The federal government has disciplined a Border Patrol agent for speaking to the media — including NRO.
After being instructed to “immediately cease and desist” from issuing press releases and statements that contain “Law Enforcement sensitive” information, Agent Ron Zermeno spoke to NRO. Zermeno, health-and-safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613, spoke about the order in an article titled “Border Patrol Tells Agent: ‘You Must Cease and Desist’ from Speaking with Media” on July 8, 2014.
After the article’s publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency served the agent with a proposal
that he be reprimanded for two charges: unauthorized disclosure and failure to follow instructions. Nearly a month later, CBP issued an official reprimand
for the charge of unauthorized disclosure that said, in part, “You willfully abandoned your responsibilities as a Border Patrol Agent and potentially placed several persons at risk.” It also stated that a copy of the disciplinary action would be placed in Zermeno’s personnel file for up to two years, and that any future misconduct may result in termination. The decision noted that Zermeno had no prior disciplinary record, and Zermeno did not provide comment for this story. NRO has not obtained any information regarding a decision on the second charge against Zermeno — failure to follow instructions.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee staff of ranking Republican Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) has worked with Agent Zermeno. A staff member confirmed the veracity of the proposal and official reprimand and says he has examined comments made to the press by Zermeno.
“We’ve reviewed, and I’ve reviewed his comments, and I don’t think he has released anything that would violate law-enforcement sensitivities,” the staffer says. “I can’t see what he released that would have done any harm, but I’m willing to keep an open mind to that. I just don’t see it. I think he’s a good American who’s done the right thing.” The Republican staffer tells NRO that Agent Zermeno has been helpful educating the committee staff about the situation on the ground.
Under the unauthorized-disclosure charge against Zermeno are four “specifications,” three of which appear to contain errors.