Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Caught Restricting the Press and Public Again

Caught Restricting the Press and Public Again, BP Clarifies Policy on Access Limits


July 7th, 2010

A John Wathen Video
by Glynn Wilson
GULF SHORES, Ala. — More reports surfaced today of contractors for British Petroleum and local police taking it upon themselves to limit access to oiled sites on the Gulf coast by media and citizens with cameras.
John Wathen, an activist photographer and videographer, was harassed at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Tuesday, and told he was not allowed on the beach with a camera where workers were moving oil with heavy machinery.
He has audio recordings to prove it as part of a video (see above). When asked about the policy, a person who answered the phone at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge said the policy was not to restrict access by the media or to prevent anyone from taking pictures. Authorities are preventing people from driving down Pine Beach Road to Gator Lake so you have to park and walk the mile to the beach.
In response to numerous reports of media access being limited across the Gulf in violation of Obama administration policy and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Megan Moloney, a spokesperson for BP Deepwater Horizon Response National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen, issued a statement clarifying the policy on media access and the establishment of so-called “safety zones,” such as the 65-foot zone outside boom surrounding pelican rookeries.
“Since the beginning of the response to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, federal agencies have worked to provide timely and factual information to the public, make personnel available to the media, and provide access to areas and operations the press could not reach on their own,” Moloney says. “At the same time, we have directed BP and its contractors to not restrict public access unless safety or security is jeopardized while recognizing that private individuals hired by contractors cannot be compelled to speak to the press.”

The administration claims this “openness” has led to hundreds of daily press briefings and conference calls by federal officials, “who have conducted thousands of interviews, and posted thousands of documents and images of, not only this historic response, but also the tragic impacts of this continuing oil leak. In addition, response assets have provided press access to field operations nearly 700 times during the last two months including those areas hardest hit by this tragedy.”
Most of the images after the first two weeks put out by the Deepwater Response via e-mail, however, can only be described as “green washing,” showing pretty blue water and clean orange boom and happy federal workers on the job.
If it wasn’t for the Louisiana bureau of the Associated Press, a hand-full of broadcast reporters, and other independent journalists and activists challenging the media access fight at every level, the public would know little of the horrible, permanent travesty at work in the Gulf of Mexico.
“While a handful of sporadic instances have occurred where members of the media were turned away from certain areas by private entities, local law enforcement or non-leadership personnel, the constant stream of images on television and the robust amount of information available is testament to the fact these instances are the exception, not the rule,” Moloney said.
Last week Coast Guard Captains of the Port in the region put in place “limited, small waterside safety zones,” he said, around protective boom and those vessels actively responding to this spill, which caused an outcry and the creation of a Facebook group of photographers who plan to challenge the limit.
“This was required due to recent instances of protective boom being vandalized or broken by non-response vessels getting too close,” Malony said. “These 20-meter zones are only slightly longer than the distance from a baseball pitcher’s mound to home plate.
“This distance is insignificant when gathering images,” he claimed. “In fact, these zones, which do not target the press, can and have been opened for reporters as required.”
Nevermind that a photographer for the New Orleans Times Picayune said it would take a telescope to get closeup images from that distance, taking into account how far the boom is from land in places.
Media Could Face Criminal Penalties for Entering Oil Cleanup Safety Zone?
“It is unfortunate that the safety zones are needed at all, but the responsibility of officials is to wage the most effective and safest response possible while best supporting factual and open reporting,” Malony says. “That will continue until BP caps its leaking well and the cleanup is complete.”
If it is ever capped, that is, and if the cleanup is done right.
Meanwhile, Plaquemines Paris President Billy Nunguesser has been outspoken in his support of having the media tell the story of what his people are facing — and in his criticism of BP.



  1. I just finished reading a related article written by Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, at Natural News. The title of the piece is: Gulf Coast now a BP police state as law enforcement conspires with BP to intimidate journalists

    I thought about doing a copy and paste here but it's a very long article. IMO, lengthy or not it's well worth the time spent to read. Anyway, here's the link followed by a few excerpts:


    What happened is that Lance Rosenfield, a photographer working for ProPublica (, was standing on a public road, taking photos of a BP refinery in full public view. After taking his photos, he was tailed by local law enforcement officials to a gas station, where they demanded to look at the photos he had just taken. A private BP security goon then showed up at the scene, and an official from the Department of Homeland Security soon arrived and began to intimidate Lance.

    With his wits about him (and some basic knowledge of the Bill of Rights), Lance at first refused to show his photographs to local law enforcement. They threatened to detain him (probably under the Patriot Act) if he didn't, so he gave in and let them see the photos. Later, when private BP security personnel asked for Lance's personal information, he refused to give it to them. So -- get this -- the police turned over his private information to the BP security goon!

    This is scary stuff, folks. Now we have a police state in America. No one can deny it. You can't argue the point anymore. It is documented fact, and it's happening right now in the Gulf Coast.

    If you pick up a professional camera and start snapping photos of a BP refinery, or a BP cleanup vessel, or a beach with an oil boom on it, you risk being followed, detained, questioned and intimidated. And if you don't surrender your own rights and consent to an illegal search of your photos or film footage, you will be hauled into a federal holding facility and held by the Department of Homeland Security until they feel like letting you go.

    Your rights as a free citizen have now been obliterated. America is now a fascist corporatocracy that answers to the financial interests of the corporations -- at the expense of the freedoms of the People.

    What's really scary about this is that BP is a British corporation that is now controlling American law enforcement officials.

    Didn't we fight a war to get rid of a British police state once already? Didn't we declare our independence from British rule a couple hundred years ago? Why are our public streets, beaches and oceans now ruled once again by a conniving, dishonest and downright ominous British corporate giant that has apparently gained control over our local law enforcement officials?

    (end of excerpts)

  2. I live here on the central gulf coast of Florida. I wrote about a substance on our vehicle windshields in the morning, that happened about six weeks ago.Today there are dead Praying Mantis and stink bugs falling from the sky, I took pics. I have never seen anything like this before. We juat had a week of rain and today it is sunny. The insects appear dead before they hit the ground.What is up with this??? If anybody wants to see the pics let me know. Over twelve praying mantis in my yard alone.On my vehicle hood and ground dead!

  3. Hi There,

    Your blog takes a very good look in depth at the spill. Your content is provocative and interesting, and your blog is a valuable resource. We have provided a link to your site on our blog and would like you to do the same for us. Please feel free to check us out at:

    Thanks! -- Nathan


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