Sunday, July 4, 2010
United States of BP
Oh, say, can you see, in the oil's sickly sheen,
The very idea that government officials are acting as agents of BP (of all companies) in what clearly seem to be unconstitutional acts to intimidate and impede the media is infuriating. Obviously, the U.S. Government and BP share the same interest -- preventing the public from knowing the magnitude of the spill and the inadequacy of the clean-up efforts -- but this creepy police state behavior is intolerable.
In this latest case, the journalists were not even focused on the spill itself, but on BP's other potentially reckless behavior with other refineries, and yet there are DHS agents and local police officials acting as BP's personal muscle to detain, interrogate, and threaten a photographer. BP's destructive conduct, and the government's complicity, have slowly faded from public attention, and there clearly seem to be multiple levels of law enforcement devoted to keeping it that way, no matter how plainly illegal their tactics are.
Journalists who come too close to oil spill clean-up efforts without permission could find themselves facing a $40,000 fine and even one to five years in prison under a new rule instituted by the Coast Guard late last week.
It's a move that outraged observers have decried as an attack on First Amendment rights. And CNN's Anderson Cooper describes the new rules as making it "very easy to hide incompetence or failure."
The Coast Guard order states that "vessels must not come within 20 meters [65 feet] of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law."
But since "oil spill response operations" apparently covers much of the clean-up effort on the beaches, CNN's Anderson Cooper describes the rule as banning reporters from "anywhere we need to be."
BP company employees, contractors, and subcontractors are responsible for maintaining a vigilant watch for oil spill discharges of any magnitude and reporting all discharges to management personnel. In the event the discharge is determined to be from a BP facility or operation, the person in charge as well as on duty field personnel will take immediate action which may include but is not limited to the following:
As quickly as possible, safely shut down the operation responsible for the
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