BP: not only trashing our oceans, but the First Amendment too! From Raw Story:
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.”
Today, an article that is a joint collaboration between PBS’ Frontline and ProPublica reported that a BP refinery in Texas “spewed tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the skies” two weeks before the company’s rig in the Gulf collapsed. Accompanying that article was this sidebar report:
A photographer taking pictures for these articles, was detained Friday while shooting pictures in Texas City, Texas.
The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said that shortly after arriving in town, he was confronted by a BP security officer, local police and a man who identified himself as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security. He was released after the police reviewed the pictures he had taken on Friday and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.
The police officer then turned that information over to the BP security guard under what he said was standard procedure, according to Rosenfield.
No charges were filed.
Rosenfield, an experienced freelance photographer, said he was detained shortly after shooting a photograph of a Texas City sign on a public roadway. Rosenfield said he was followed by a BP employee in a truck after taking the picture and blocked by two police cars when he pulled into a gas station.
According to Rosenfield, the officers said they had a right to look at photos taken near secured areas of the refinery, even if they were shot from public property. Rosenfield said he was told he would be “taken in” if he declined to comply.
ProPublica’s Paul Steiger said that the reporting team told law enforcement agents that they were working on a deadline for this story about that facility, and that even if DHS agents believed they had a legitimate reason to scrutinize the actions and photographs of this photographer, there was no reason that “should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company.”
I don’t see why conservatives were worried that the U.S. government would socialize BP. It does whatever BP wants anyway….