It was just over 234 years ago that our forefathers told the British Empire to go screw themselves by declaring the 13 colonies an independent country.
Today, our leaders have essentially handed the country back to the British by allowing BP, the United Kingdom’s largest corporation, to quash the First Amendment rights of reporters covering the gulf spill.
So much for that scribbled document that was drafted on a piece of hemp paper in 1789 after declaring victory over Britain.
BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, even managed to get a new law passed that made it illegal for reporters to come within 20 meters (65 feet) of any cleanup vessels or equipment in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard claims BP had nothing to do with this new law, but there have been enough instances in the past two months to prove they are the ones running the show. Violation of this new law is a felony that could result in a $40,000 fine.
In the above video, CNN’s Anderson Cooper states that the new law will prevent reporters from documenting the stuff BP would rather us not see.
The National Press Photographers Association is asking President Barack Obama to rescind the media ban.
“NPPA is outraged at reports that the U.S. Coast Guard has created an extremely restrictive ‘safety zone’ surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations, and at reports that the federal government has banned members of the news media from speaking with clean-up workers,” NPPA president Bob Carey wrote to the president.
“The Constitution provides First Amendment protection from governmental abridgment of press access. While that protection is limited by reasonable time, place and manner restrictions – a blanket ban keeping journalists at least 65 feet away from any activity related to the oil spill cleanup is overly broad and may limit more access than is necessary,” Carey wrote.
Then there was the incident where a photographer in Texas was detained Friday by BP security guards, local police and a Homeland Security cop in an incident that sounds much like my Metrorail incident two days earlier.
They even made up laws that did not exist just as they did in my incident.
According to a BP statement:
“BP Security followed the industry practice that is required by federal law. The photographer was released with his photographs after those photos were viewed by a representative of the Joint Terrorism Task Force who determined that the photographer’s actions did not pose a threat to public safety.”
The problem is, there is no “federal law” so to speak, according to Bert Krages, the attorney who drafted the popular Photographer’s Rights guide
“There are no federal laws that authorize (much less require) oil companies to detain photographers off their premises and view their images,” Krages said Tuesday in an email response to a Photography is Not a Crime inquiry.
And then there is the incident involving Andrew Wheelan, the conservation coordinator for the American Birding Association, who was filming a BP building from across the street in Louisiana and was told by a cop that BP did not want him filming. That video is below.
Wheelan: “Am I violating any laws or anything like that?”
Wheelan: “Well, I’m not on their property so BP doesn’t have anything to say about what I do right now.”
Officer: “Um…not particularly. BP doesn’t want people filming.”
Officer: “Let me explain: BP doesn’t want any filming. So all I can really do is strongly suggest that you not film anything right now. If that makes any sense.”
The only thing that is making sense is that BP has every single police department in the Gulf area as well as every politician in Washington DC that can make a difference in their pocket.
And to think that some of us used to criticize Bush for being in Big Oil’s pocket.