2010 CBP External Inquiry Interview Transcript

You betcha. Record away. I got nothing to hide, not even nervous. Mind if I smoke? Kidding.

James Jan Bakke. Call me Jam. Short for Jamtart. That was my stage name. Female impersonator. But that was a long time ago.

Alrighty. I’m cooperating, here, for the record. I have been over and over the incident in question, and yeah, it took place on my watch, but I’m still not positive it adds up, speaking as a veteran of our service, that my ass gets thrown on probation for this? There was a breach, sure, and maybe someone has to go down, but as I’m sure you’re gonna agree once you hear the whole story, more or less anyone might’ve reacted the way Sillman did, anyone who’s serious about what we do here, which is all of us. Listen, I don’t even like the guy. But here’s his lifelong dream maybe going down the drain. Frosts my butt.

Me? I’ve been in the service eighteen years. Supervisor for nine or so. Never had any shit like this, pardon my French, not ever. Back when I joined the BPAs, we were still . . .

Border. Patrol. Agents. You kidding me, here?

Okay, for the recording. Blood Pressure Alert. Better Protect America. Been Pretty Angry. Bam! Pop! Argh! Coffee-room game – never gets tired.

There you go! I joined the service, in other words, before the script system was implemented.

Don’t mind my asking, but youse guys haven’t been briefed on that already? Our protocol is we don’t talk about the scripts with anyone who doesn’t already know about the scripts. We are forsworn.

Ronald, am I green-lighted on this?

In that case, I’m happy to brief youse. I’m guessing you read the reports, but you saw there’s no particular mention of them, right? Well, you wouldn’t have seen there was nothing, if you didn’t know to look, because there’s nothing.

Dontcha know it came outta all that crappage around . . . 9/11.

Basically, the scripts are meant to take out the element of chance. For years, the government tried to train all BPAs to perform the same. The powers that be saw that just wasn’t working within a sufficient margin of error, definitely not in an era of need for increased security.

So the government introduced standardized idiosyncrasies. We can’t anticipate the whole range of human emotions, but we can script a controlled range, increase predictability, narrow that margin of error. Preparedness. Strategy. These are the fundaments of our practice and our philosophy. We’re told effectiveness went up, but in my analysis, speaking as a supervisor, that must’ve also had something to do with morale right? Because it gave the BPA something positive to do: play this state of mind, as opposed to erase yourself.

Let a guy go get some to show youse?

They’re more like outlines for improvisation. The title is the Defining Character Distinction. What do we have here? Irritated BPA Female, Generous BPA Male, BPA-on-Cocaine Male, BPA-with-Hemorrhoids Male. See? It gives the actor, sorry, the BPA, something to start feeling as he reads through the Subtext, Suggestions and Directives.

Uh, yeah, the cocaine card: there are a very small number of roles, we just happened to draw one, where you got a bad egg. Someone who, if that was real, he or she is going to get fired.

Alrighty. Say you draw this here. Overeager BPA Female. You get a minute or two to change your hair or makeup, whatever. Then about ten minutes in your booth to read it over and get in character before the Herder will start directing Crossers over to you. Here’s the Subtext on this one: The Overeager Border Patrol Agent is a rookie. On probation, she wants to be all things to all people. She will give you a huge smile when you walk up, as if hoping for customer service points on your Random Exit Questionnaire, but then direct you sternly to move either to one side or another, and not make eye contact when she checks your face against your passport picture. She will chat you up in an almost too-friendly way and then quiz you on every single prohibited item. She elevates two Crossers in three to Extended Search, far above recommended ratios. This is a sign of her insecurity.

The veterans, they have their own personas, whatever, that they call up. And there’s this spot here on the back of each script for notations, helpful hints, so BPAs can elaborate. That came in maybe five years ago? I guess because they figured out everyone was doing that anyway. Gives a sense of ownership.

Good question. I dunno. I’ve never seen author credit anywhere on them. I always imagined one of those boardrooms with a team of writers bouncing off the walls, like writing for TV. But maybe it’s just one guy, working at home in his pajamas, cats on his lap. Lighting one cigarette off the last. Youse could find out, for your report.

Your BPA does maybe two scripts a day, but they have the option of trading in the script at any break and also of keeping a script for a full day. BPA pulls a script, preferably whatever’s at the front of their gender stack, though there’s a little dig-and-shuffle in there a lot of the time. I look the other way on the small stuff. They punch out the script, use it, punch it back in. Returns go to the back of the pile. I have a readout, shows who got what that day, that I tabulate for my weekly review. Day to day, I keep on top of it, do my random mic checks . . .

Yeah, I can push this button here, look. Listen in and check what’s going on at any of the twelve booths, what the BPA says, what the Crosser responds.

Well, it’s not a coincidence I was promoted when they brought in the scripts. There weren’t many of us with theatre backgrounds, even if, okay, so my standup routine wasn’t necessarily on a par with what my wife was doing. She slogged it for years in serious dramatic theatre, auditions, waitressing, before she joined the service.

Dontcha know they recommend that? In the application materials, there’s a pamphlet that says, ‘What’s it like for a spouse?’ Says you could be posted along the active border, maybe a small town, maybe no one speaks English. So it recommends your wife should think about going into Customs or Border Patrol, with you. 1

Around when she started, I was promoted to supervisor, and we helped with recruitment. Backstage posters. I was still in improv classes. Teachers’d let me give a little talk after, saying how security’s a major growth industry. You need to be able to recruit top-flight recruits.

Word spread fast. I’d say we might be up to eighty or ninety per cent recruited out of theatre schools now.

Sillman. Well, he’s . . . different. Kind of a harbinger of a new time in border work.

Maybe a year ago? It was a few weeks after upper management noticed airport-goers had stopped paying attention to Threat Level Orange. That was when they introduced the System of Synonymic Threats, that gave you Threat Level Mango Sunrise, Threat Level Harvest Gold, Threat Level Baby Aspirin. I don’t know about other airports, but here they installed light panels in the lounges to flash the Current Threat Spectrum.

I’ll be frank, I didn’t like him right from the orientation. Young, like twenty-two. On the short side, but an iron-pumper. Head like a concrete block. Scrubbed cheeks and wet-look hair, black and shiny, like a beetle. Regulation haircut, but looks like it grows that way. Breaks off flat at three-quarter inches. Born to Patrol Always! That’s a cheat. Repetition of ‘Patrol’. Game’s not my forte, as my wife likes to tell me.

He’d been fast-tracked off the frontline, he said in our initial chat, like he was bragging about it but also unhappy. Airport work is a promotion, but someone like him wants to be where the action is. Here, the border’s the length of your booth. Lotta young guys arrive jumpy that way. You’re used to it. The newbies’re put out where all the action is, so transferring up north to an airport is like retiring, like a desk job or some shit, no offense, Ronald, but it is, compared to what they’ve been doing.

So he seemed a bit disappointed. And intense. Alpha. He made me feel, what, defensive. I’m man enough to admit it. We’re all dedicated, but he was all dedication. With attitude. When our first, initial chat was done, he backed out of the room, like he was some explorer visiting a primitive king or whatnot, paying respect because the power’s in the hands of dumbasses.

Anyway, plenty of others nearly as irritating. I gave him one to train with: your Adam Li. Not much of an actor, either, though he has a certain . . . sensibility. You could see him playing a Kung Fu sidekick or TV cop. He does best on the aggressive scripts. With the ‘play it understanding’ directives, he tries too hard. The ones where you’re supposed to be stoned, it’s so obvious he’s never been stoned. Not that the rest of us ever tried illegal substances, obviously. We’re all just better actors, is my point.

But Li’s reliable, hundred and ten percent. So I thought the two of them, Li and Sillman, could get on each other’s last nerve instead of mine. Li got him suited up, got him his gear.

Walkie-talkie, holster, rubber gun . . .

No, I don’t mean rubber bullets. You thought they were real? Ronald, did you not tell them anything?

Feel. Take it. It’s a baton, shaped like a gun. Cutting edge, eh? Multi-purposive. For one thing, we’ve got riot-control covered. For another, they can intimidate just like they were real guns, minus the shooting, but how often does it ever get to that point? No one actually ever gets shot. Does you proud, I still say, even after what happened.

So I asked Li to show Sillman around. They come in here, say hi. Then Li takes him out to introduce him to the rest of the shift, but every time I look up, they catch my eye and wave at me. You see? What kinda guys? Uffdah. Drive you nuts.

They’re committed, though, all in. Gotta give ’em that. I see both sides. Unlike a lot of the newer recruits, I’ve worked the before and the after, script-wise. I think that’s a part of what got me moved up into management: I am of the theatre but I let go of my evening ambitions. Not that it hurt much to let go. My wife, you’d never know, but she still lives for the stage.

Sillman? Never even had evening ambitions. He went to theatre school to become a BPA.

Yeah, a couple of theatre schools have courses now in BPI – that’s Border Patrol Improv – master classes and so on.

No, you’re right there. The scripts are seriously classified. Those courses and whatnot are based on leaks and speculation – dubious, but the force has chosen not to pursue it, which I respect.

Me, now, I never had formal actor training. I mostly learned the performance-coaching stuff on the job. There are professional development opportunities. I took this one night course, Stanislavski? Shattering.

But Sillman: every script he did, he overdid. He and I had talks – nuance, finding your way in to the character. He would nod with this blank, bulldoggy kind of yessir, yessir.

The other BPAs didn’t like Sillman much more than I did. They hate hams, plus he went around saying this wasn’t just a day job for him the way it was for them. No way to win friends.

Well, I predicted – my wife would tell you – that something would trip him up, and he’d learn. And sure enough – youse should have this, at a minimum. You gave them Sillman’s paperwork at least, eh, Ronald?

That’s the one. Young guy, with his mom. He’s a, what’s it called again, with the big turban and beard?

Sikh? And so, Sillman’s got a tricky script that day.

Got it right here. Border Patrol Agent Who’s Seen It All: This BPA is an old hand. He looks bored yet skeptical no matter what the Crosser says. On the one hand, the Crosser can’t surprise him. On the other, the BPA never seems to take anything the Crosser says at face value.

Thing is, Sillman had a knack for pulling the scripts that were closest to who he was anyway. I looked the other way a little. Some like to pull scripts that offer greater acting challenges. Not Sillman. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing his job. Still, that he would get tripped up from pulling a script for an experienced BPA, which he obviously wasn’t? Did I detect a satisfying little irony there?

So he’s browsing the passports, and the Crosser blurts out, ‘I’m studying for Border Patrol.’

Sillman, right on script, he goes, ‘Whatcha you doing traveling, then?’ Said he tried to narrow his eyes just the tiniest amount, which you gotta know, with him, that would mean he could barely see.

Crosser says, and let’s be honest, this is dubious, ‘Well, I’m not formally in training yet. But it’s where I’m headed.’

I’m listening in by this point, because I just had an odd feeling.

Sillman’s suspicious. What’s the guy telling him all this for? Then the Crosser goes, ‘I’m even studying Artificial Language. Listen.’ And he says, in AL –

AL. Artificial Language? 2 That’s not even a secret. You just didn’t do your homework.

The service made a language up to test how quick someone can learn Spanish. All BPAs need Spanish. Me, I came in with a little – half my dad’s crew was Chilean, growing up. But say you don’t know Spanish, they use AL to test how quick you could theoretically learn it. Totally exclusive to Customs and Border Patrol. The idea is, you can’t study for it. See?

Youse don’t get it, and okay, I don’t either, but anyway, this Crosser says, in AL, which of course Sillman had studied up the wazoo . . .

No, I know I said the idea is you can’t study for it, but that’s just like you’re not supposed to be able to learn Border Patrol Improv in theatre school. Right?

The guy goes, ‘I don’t know Spanish but I speak Hindi and Punjabi – that could be good, right?’ Sillman’s getting tense, now, looking closer at the guy’s file. Is the Crosser trying to get information out of him? Then the guy, still talking AL, which sounds a bit freaky anyway, he asks, ‘Which theatre school did you go to?’

With the turban and this fanatical shine in his eye, which, his mother said that was hero-worship, but really, it’s all too much. Sillman gets some serious heebie-jeebies. ‘Can it, buddy,’ he goes. ‘You’re gonna tell it to big guy up there.’ He elevates him, to my booth. But he pulls and points with his rubber baton. That’s a gesture with some power to it, you might say. So the Crosser comes up to my booth here and starts nattering away, but the mom’s right there with him and files a complaint – intimidation.

Sillman got a little reprimand, no big deal, but whoa, was he down. I felt for him. Took him for a donut. Good result, all around. Everyone liked him better, first because he’d gotten slapped down, which, everyone enjoyed that. Second, it made him less obnoxious.

Then, a few weeks after that was the Christmas Day, um . . . (unintelligible)

I said, um, terrorist attack, where the guy concealed the bomb in his underwear, of all things.3

Which, if it hadn’t been so terrifying, it would have been ridiculous, except Sillman had been reading up on Sikhs, either on his own or maybe – Ronald, was he assigned reading or some such?

Anyway, in the break room on Christmas Day, Sillman tells us Sikhs wear special underwear. And carry knives. As part of their religion.

I know the underwear bomber was Muslim and not Sikh, Ronald. That’s my point, Sillman was Googling, which is a very human thing to do, trying to get information, make connections, where, maybe there weren’t any, but our whole training is detecting what is present but not explicit.

Whoa, now, Ronald. Don’t you go sloughing this off toward we were racially profiling. A, that’s not us. B, this is your unit, too, I shouldn’t need to remind you.

To me, I could as easily see the religiously required underwear and knives and whatnot in an almost positive light – at least we know what to expect – but Sillman went somewhere else with all that, because that’s the kind of guy he is, as anyone could see from the get-go, which, am I the one who hired him? I’m not, and I sure wouldn’t mind taking a look at that chain of responsibility at some point.

Here’s what, and the fact that I’m willing to say this shows I stand with management just like I stand with my guys, which is why I think I deserve a little more trust here.

The BPA’s job comes with a disclaimer. The script is supposed to take responsibility off your shoulders for mood, random personality elements, all those things we couldn’t control before. But you have to know the limits of the role. You can play out to them, as long as you play within them: run with the character but don’t break the rules. You do something wrong, it’s your actual ass on the line. There has to be accountability and deniability. Admin are not going to say, well, we gave him a script that said racist BPA and so that’s why he acted racist. Even the racist BPA cannot act racist – that’s what gives the role its exquisite tension. BPAs are trusted to respect the barrier. Sillman might have had a little trouble with that, but I think the crux is – we’re going to have a look at the video, right? Of the day in question? – a question of artistic license.

Alrighty. Christmas Day, I was here. My wife’s Jewish so it isn’t much of an event at our house. We do Hanukkah at the inners’ and Christmas Eve at my folks’, Minnesota Dutch. But Christmas Day, Linda or me works. Double-time, comes in handy.

By late afternoon, all the BPAs had heard about the bomber. The Crossers were stiff and quiet, and crossing volume was way down, like after 9/11. The message from upper management took a few hours to arrive. Said stuff like, none of this is your fault. We’ll stand with our government and the service in protecting our borders to the last. Increased security measures, particulars to be announced, would soon follow. I printed it out and stuck copies up.

They stepped the Threat Level up right away, to Clementine or Blood Orange, some shit, but then, that afternoon, they ditched the spectrum and went to Threat Level Real-and-Pressing-Fear-of-Attack. You’d think that’d be red, but the lounge panels were shades of scary gray, like thunder clouds waiting to break.

The next day, we read Ms Napolitano saying that new security was going to be unpredictable, by design. Don’t expect to find the same procedures everywhere, she said. 4

Unpredictability by design. Eh? Obviously we could tell that was a reference to the scripts, though it’s possible they were putting in equivalent measures elsewhere in Homeland Security. I’m not asking about that there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else to violate their confidentiality agreements. We hold these things dear.

Anyway, the scripts were changed up within days. Most of the cheery or mellow ones were retired. The ones left were harsher, sour and intimidating, with less room for improv. A couple of the new ones, I remember, were Contained but Semi-Psychotic BPA and Relentlessly Disbelieving BPA, on top of extra Cold-and-Silents, all things my guys might have sunk their teeth into, in the old days. They did their best, but such a narrow range? That morale problem I mentioned? It started about this time.

It was a pressure cooker. Crossers were tense. Here’s how I see it: everyone has something to hide, not necessarily anything that concerns your BPA, but guilt, it comes to the surface. People get angry, like we’re the ones making them cheat on their wife. A whole slurdge of crossers got into tiffs with my guys.

Crossers are not our enemies. If they’re not bad people, we want to let them cross. It’s our job to figure out if they’re bad, but mostly you have nothing to worry about. That changes a little in times of threat. In times of threats to our nation, we’ve all got something to worry about. That’s terrorists’ job, if you think about it. To make it so we’re all running scared, which is where our institution comes in.

Sure, I wondered, should I call a meeting with my crew? But there was no time. We were going flat out. The volume of crossers was down, but the time we spent with each one was way up. Tension building. No valve. It’s leaking out in a whisper here, a murmur there, maybe a good cry in the bathroom when you thought you were alone – for the girls, that is.

Recommended elevation ratios also went up, which created a personnel crisis, not to mention space. We converted a couple janitorial closets to interview rooms, and a bunch of Level 1 and 2 BPAs were given some pretty hasty interrogation training. That’s how Sillman ended up in the position he ended up in, which, the result of, we know now, thanks to 20/20 hindsight.

Oh, and also because there was another strange incident earlier on the day in question.

That’s right, on January 3. Just strange, no biggie, except it does sort of connect. A little girl came through Sillman’s booth with this little aquarium-terrarium thing, with a bunch of live frogs in it. The kid was a bit funny looking, a bit squinty, which, I don’t think that was an ethnic thing, though she didn’t look totally white, either. I’m the first to admit that most of our BPAs up here are white, and all the cultural-sensitivity training in the world isn’t going to change that.

She had more than two pigtails, I remember, like three or five and here’s the thing: the frogs, when you looked at them, there wasn’t a single one that had only the four legs, the two little ones and two big ones? They all had an extra leg or a missing leg, or a couple. Three legs, five legs, six. Freaky. Still makes me shudder.

She was American, but she’d spent the Christmas break in Canada, I guess, maybe her parents sent her to stay with relatives or what-have-you. She took her pet mutant frogs up with her and was bringing them back down. Unlike most of the Crossers at that point, she’s cool as a cucumber. Kids, right? Stuck to her story. Caught the frogs in her own yard, Minnesota born-and-bred. They all had names. Famous figure skaters, maybe? I recall a Kristi Yamaguchi in the tank, there.

I wouldn’t mention it, wouldn’t even remember it, except Sillman went so buggy. He elevated her to me and actually signaled me for a break, which never happens, and I found him in the break room, bent over, hands on knees, taking deep breaths and counting. He straightened up when I came in, but do you know what he was doing, Ronald? Does he have a medical condition I don’t know about?

‘Sorry, Jam,’ he goes. ‘So weird. You saw, right? So weird.’ He keeps saying this, in a way that’s, I gotta say, it’s weird. Pathological. So this is where I make my mistake, and I admit it. We’re short handed, so I can’t send him home, but I move him to the elevation booth – the janitorial closet – so he doesn’t have to get through quite so many Crossers. Yeah, Ronald, I see your face, but I already admitted it was a miscalculation on my part, so I don’t need you rubbing it in.

Well, you looked like you were.

Here’s what I hadn’t been seeing, was Sillman taking the tension harder than most of the others. To deal with stress you need a certain amount of professional detachment, am I right? The others, they spent their evenings, even in this day and age of global threat against the people of America, singing ‘Happy Talk’, waiting for Godot. Stress levels at work were high, don’t get me wrong, but most left work at work, to the extent humanly possible. Sillman? Nosirree.

I mean, how do I really know what he’s doing in his off-time, but looking back, it was me, too, in the same boat as him more or less. Living for the job. I gave up the drag shows before I was promoted. Weren’t so hard to give up: I must be about the only person left in the Western hemisphere who still loves that kind of comedy.

My wife can’t live without the stage, but for me, beyond family, my job is everything. Yeah, I get emotional. It’s like marriage. You get in, not really knowing, is this the One, do I really believe in this whole institution anyway? But once you’re in, you’re in and it becomes part of you.

Granted, on top of all that, this job is important in and of itself, first and foremost, our nation’s security. But then there’s that other layer of, it’s your life.

Sillman, this is all he ever wanted to do. Damn if I don’t feel way sorry for the guy. I mean, he’s trained as an actor now, so he could do ads or some such, but his dream, the dream is maybe over, you know?

Sure. As I said, Sillman went into the closet. And who gets elevated to him, of all people? This cantankerous veteran. Really, what’s his problem at this point? He’s coming home from his holiday, little Asian wife pushing his wheelchair, little dog in a mesh lunchbox on his lap, so I don’t know what it is with him, but he’s one of those just spoiling for a fight. Seems he blames 9/11 on Border Patrol, which is, I’m not even going there.

Guy comes through my wife’s booth first, all snarky. He won’t answer the questions properly and she elevates him. Says if she’d known Sillman’s position and that this guy would be elevated to him, she would have held him back to send to me, but that’s not what happened.

Sure thing. Could’ve been written for him. BPA Working on Anger Issues Male: Something simmers beneath this agent’s surface; he is braced in expectation of being brushed the wrong way. He understands the value of mild intimidation. He does a thorough cross-examination, speaking slowly and deliberately, without much eye contact. May have a facial tic or some other mannerism.

He says it was at the front of the stack, and with the new density of scripts of this ilk? It’s possible. You gotta wonder how that day might have played out if he had pulled Chill BPA Male: This BPA is essentially putting in time. Or By-the-Book BPA Male: This BPA does no more and no less than his duty. I used to love those. But it doesn’t matter because most of those scripts are gone.

Yeah, it’s a good time. Turn on the video. I watched the guy wheel on over to the closet on his own steam. Wife’s sort of trotting after him. He had some biceps. So here we see him coming in.

Sillman: Passports?

Crosser: Come get ’em.

Sillman: What was that, buddy?

Crosser: Come. Get ’em. Buddy.

Sillman: Respect the uniform, mister. Ma’am, could you give me your passports and customs form?

Crosser: Don’t, Heidi, stop. Yo, buddy. See this here?

Sillman: Your dog?

Crosser: My lap. Just enough space for my lovely wife, because I deposited everything from the knees down with the enemy. That we managed to keep away from America but you guys keep inviting in. Your uniform is a joke.

Sillman: Stand down with that. Hand me the passports or –

Crosser: What you gonna do, keep me out of my own country that I lost my legs for? You’re all a joke!

Sillman: I said stand down.

Crosser: Ooh, big man’s coming for me now. The hell is that? You don’t even get real guns? (Bursts into laughter. Whapping sound.) Ow!


As you just saw, the wife ran out screaming. Now you’ll see me come in, there’s me, just after the guy falls out of his chair. He’s out of the frame now, lying on the ground, laughing like a maniac while Sillman’s whaling on him with the rubber gun. I think he actually fell out of his chair from laughing so hard. Can we stop the tape? I can see where it looks kind of pathetic, and ‘stand down’ wasn’t maybe totally the best choice of words, but . . . you know what? This was the performance of Sillman’s life. Let’s back it up. Watch him again.

You see? He went down the rabbit hole of this part. Did he go off-script? Not once.

Improv is the intersection of theatre and life. The script is the lens. We see the situation, live the situation, through it. That’s our contract. Sillman was playing the role he drew. You can’t take that away from him. Would he have done differently, given a different script? Maybe. Would a different actor do it differently? Sure.

Yeah, he hit the Crosser! What’s a baton for, if there’s no hitting?

You’re trying to ask was the use of force justified, and okay, I don’t know if I can answer that. In the sense, I know my opinion but that’s for me. As I said, if I had drawn that role . . .

I know what I said at the start – was that on tape?

I just don’t think you can blame Sillman. He was hired to be the way he was, so if that’s how he was, how’s that his fault? Or mine? We are on the front lines. We are searching out threats where, let’s be honest, there are very few threats. We are on constant alert, constant, constant, even though practically nothing ever happens around here. I’ve never seen a terrorist and I may never in my life, but I exist to find them. That’s a high-pressure situation. Blame them.

The terrorists of course, who did you think I meant? Do you even care that we’re swinging in the wind here? Sillman’s on leave. I’m on probation. You should be scared, Ronald. They might come for you next. And why? Because we are doing our job the best we can. I’m done, here. I got nothing more to say.

Confidentiality? That’s insulting. I’m a veteran of the service. Eighteen years. That’s my point is I’m trying to do my job.

Don’t thank me. I live to serve.


End of transcript.

1 transcriber footnote: See ‘What’s It Like for a Spouse?’ on this general information page

2 transcriber footnote: See p. 26 of the Preparation Manual for the US Border Patrol Entrance Examination:

3 transcriber footnote: NWA Flight 253 was attacked en route from Amsterdam to Detroit. More details here

4 transcriber footnote: see New York Times, Dec. 26, 2009

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