Obama, Coast Guard Criminalize Free Access to the Gulf Spill, Reporters Must Now Get Permission

Can't see me...

Ed. Note: Since this story broke, the Coast Guard has been trying to deny the evidence, then admitting the rule is in effect, then producing false photographs to show vandalism of boom as reasons why, then saying the photographs were a mistake…many of these corrections done by a woman named Rachel Polish who works PR for a company that has BP as a client, while at the same time an active member of the Coast Guard, and their media liaison…see link at end for developing story…

The United States government, unwilling to take control of the oil spill from British Petroleum, has finally decided to take control of something else in the Gulf of Mexico: the information.

Via the official web page for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, Obama last week issued a new law taking affect on July 4th that will make it a felony crime for any journalist, reporter, blogger or photographer to get close to any oil cleanup operation in the Gulf of Mexico. Should any reporter decide to go anyway – get out there, decide that this ban is unconstitutional and get the story anyway, the photos, the video, so the people of this country will know what is happening in the Gulf, that reporter could be arrested and prosecuted for a felony crime, and given a fine of 40,000 dollars.

Four weeks ago at a press conference, Thad Allen promised everyone in the Gulf region transparency regarding this cleanup and much like when he claimed the “top-kill” had been a success, these statements turn out to be false.

It has now become official policy that everyone must stay 65 feet away from cleanup operations or be threatened with felony arrest. Thad Allen, Coast Guard Commander in the Gulf, says this is for the safety and security of the cleanup operations and for the safety of reporters as they don’t want the cleanup to be hampered in any way, or anyone to be hurt. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana in commenting on the spill has said “we are at war,” and these restrictions on the press are reminiscent of Iraq, where reporters’ mobility was restricted, instead embedded with the troops for “safety and security reasons,” but in truth it was quickly realized by journalists that this was a way for the government to shape the information, to control the news. Now in the Gulf of Mexico the Obama administration is taking a lesson from Bush, and is hard at work controlling the press for the benefit of their office and British Petroleum.

Long gone are the days of Richard Gibbs, White House Press Secretary denying that journalists are being chased out by BP and the police BP hired to do security; we’ve entered a new phase where rather than being harassed, reporters will now be arrested. This is not transparency in government. This is a way to shield the citizens from the massive catastrophuk that is the oil spill and the BP/administration response. This is the way to keep the public from learning that the skimming vessels are not in the water, that the boom is not being deployed properly, that oil soaked boom is not being collected, that BP isn’t cleaning the oil from the beaches, instead they are dumping sand to cover it up. This law is the way to keep the American people uninformed.

Recently after his election to office, Barack Obama had this to say to Diane Sawyer:

“I had campaigned on process—part of what I had campaigned on was changing how Washington works, opening up, transparency.”

What a difference a year makes.

What a difference a catastrophuk makes.

So now Obama decides to join British Petroleum in spending valuable time and resources not in fighting the oil spill, but in attempting to control the information about the Gulf, and in kind…your response. Of course, however…the Coast Guard has assured that when reporters request access it will be granted nine times out of ten, but British Petroleum has maintained for the past two months that they aren’t keeping reporters out at all…and we’re supposed to take the government’s word for it? What happens when negative stories are reported, when dead wildlife gets photographed? Will those reporters then be denied access? Will only friendly journalists be allowed in?

Anderson Cooper describes this law as banning reporters from “anywhere we need to be…in order to get closer, you have to get direct permission from the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans. You have to call up the guy. What this means is that oil-soaked birds on islands surrounded by boom, you can’t get close enough to take that picture.” He goes on to say, and say directly to Thad Allen, “We are not the enemy here.”

Please pay attention Mr. Cooper – according to BP and Obama, “the enemy” is precisely what you are, anyone with a mass audience is – especially if they are in favor of an informed electorate making descisions based on factual knowledge, not government and corporate spin.

So…to the Coast Guard and Thad Allen, to British Petroleum and Barack Obama…I do hope you all enjoyed your Fourth of July festivities and celebrated our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, and maybe next year, you might take a break from your red, white and blue photo opportunities on manicured lawns and actually read ’em.

Hypocrites. Perhaps, start here:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Watch Anderson Cooper reporting:

And then read on:

Coast Guard bans reporters from oil cleanup sites

White House suspends First Amendment rights in coverage of oil spill damage

First Amendment Suspended in Gulf of Mexico as spill cover-up goes Orwellian

Oil Spill Website to be Controlled by US, Not BP

And read the law for yourself:

From the Official Site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command

So, hey you! Americans!

Why not give Thad Allen a ring:

Thad Allen

National Commander of Coast Guard

US Coast Guard Headquarters

(212) 372-4411

Call into radio shows, television news programs, talk to your friends and tell them to call their elected representatives, write letters to the editor…or get creative to deep six this bullshit rule about press access, or lack thereof. Do whatever comes to mind, even if it seems crazy…or better yet – during the next election cycle, you could vote for a Republican President who is more in the pocket of big oil and creates more programs to curtail your freedoms in the name of National Security than the jack-ass Democrats…

Oh yeah…

Almost forgot where I was for a moment…

This is being disenfranchised.

And don’t forget to let Thad know I said to …

Have a nice day.

Read all about Rachael Polish, her conflict of interest and evidence of yet another point of collusion between BP and the Coast Guard:

Coast Guard Media Liaison Works for BP’s PR Agency

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