The Tonka Report

Real News In A Changing World

BP Has Created A Corporate Police State In The Gulf Coast Region!

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July 9, 2010: Gregory Patin / Madison Independent Examiner – July 8, 2010

Reporters and photographers are reporting numerous incidents where they have been prohibited from approaching areas where oil has fouled Gulf beaches and have been prevented from taking photos or gathering enough information to publish reports. BP clean up workers have been forbidden from talking to the press. 

The incidents of BP officials and the U.S. Coast Guard barring reporters from recording the effects of the disaster have been recorded in mainstream media, and date as far back as the third week of May. Who owns the Gulf coast, the American people or BP?

One may be tempted to answer that the federal government owns it. Keep in mind, however, that all federal officials – elected, appointed or hired – supposedly work for the taxpayers that pay their salaries. Apparently that is no longer the case in the corporatocracy known as the United States of America, because federal officials, police agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard seem to have pledged their allegiance to BP rather than the U.S. Constitution and the American people.

At least the Obama administration has managed to plug one thing: the flow of information related to the oil disaster from the beaches of Gulf states. The ability to document a disaster, particularly through images, is key to focusing the nation’s attention on it and the resulting clean-up efforts. Yet Americans are being denied this information.

Take, for example, this recent report that has been all-but buried in the sand. In response to an ongoing investigation between PBS’ Frontline and Propublica that reported that a trouble-plagued BP refinery in Texas that blew up in 2005 and killed 15 people also spewed tens of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the skies just before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a free-lance photographer named Lance Rosenfeld tried to get some photos of the site. The release of toxic fumes from the BP facility in Texas City, TX  began April 6 and lasted 40 days. Here is his experience:

I parked my car on the shoulder of Hwy. 197 near the Texas City sign that is in the pictures,…took the pictures [and] walked back to my car and drove a couple of miles to a gas station….I noticed that what looked like a security truck…was following me, although he continued on when I pulled into the Valero gas station….Moments later two Texas City police cars pulled in next to my car, essentially blocking me in, although I wasn’t trying to go anywhere, I was trying to get gas.

The first police officer asked me what I was doing and said he had gotten a report that I was taking pictures near the refinery. I told him I am a photojournalist and had only taken some pictures of a Texas City sign. He asked to see the pictures and I told him I didn’t think I had to show them, legally. Another police officer walked up and again asked to see the pictures.

He said I could show him the pictures or he could handle this another way, including calling Homeland Security and taking me in. I agreed to show him the pictures on the back of my camera….Meanwhile, the truck that had been following me showed up, driven by a security guard with a BP patch on his uniform. The first police officer seemed to fade back during all this….I asked the second police officer– Officer T. Krietemeyer–for his card, which he gave me.

Officer Krietemeyer took my name, driver’s license, the car license number, my D.O.B., Social Security Number and phone number. The BP security guard asked for my personal information and I declined because he is a corporate security guard and I had already given it to the police. Then the BP security guard asked Officer Krietemeyer for my information, which he gave him.

I protested and asked on what legal grounds could the police officer share my information with BP? I was never on BP property. They told me it was standard procedure and I told them I didn’t agree with it and didn’t understand what legal authority they had to share that information.

They said that when there is a Homeland Security threat, then BP files a report. I said I wasn’t a Homeland Security threat, that Officer Krietemeyer had already determined that the pictures posed no threat. Also, I was not under arrest, so why was BP getting my information? I asked the BP guard for his information, which he gave me: Gary Stief, BP Security.

They both told me they would call Homeland Security/FBI agent Tom Robison to come down and explain it, as if that were a threat to me. I said I didn’t think that was necessary but Officer Krietemeyer called Mr. Robison anyway and handed me the phone…when he got on the phone he asked what my problem is. I told him I didn’t understand why BP was getting my information….He said, “Oh no you’re not, you’re staying right there until I get there.”

Mr. Robison arrived several minutes later and asked what my problem was. His demeanor was aggressive and antagonistic. I repeated myself, in a respectful manner. He aggressively explained that a refinery like this is a terrorist target and any time people take pictures of it, they have to investigate.

He asked who I was working for. I said I’m a freelance photojournalist working on assignment for ProPublica. He asked for verification of that so I showed him the letter from (ProPublica senior editor) Susan White. Officer Krietemeyer took down the information. Mr. Robison tried to dig at what the article was about, and I stayed mostly vague because I’m not the writer….Eventually he asked if it’s about BP and I said yes, which seemed to make him angrier.

I then felt like Mr. Robison and Mr. Stief, the BP guard, started harassing me, primarily by keeping me there and talking to me in an aggressive and antagonistic manner, and relating what I had done to terrorist activity, ignoring what had actually happened. Mr. Robison twice asked Officer Krietemeyer if had he reviewed the pictures carefully and concluded there was no threat, to which Officer Krietemeyer said yes.

While that may have been a long account of a relatively short-lived incident, it is indicative of the intimidation that journalists, especially free-lancers that are not part of the corporate media establishment, have been subjected to in the Gulf states since the BP oil disaster. I recently spoke with a friend who writes for a major publication and was told, “don’t even go there.” So, instead, I’ll just post a link to the top 20 photos that BP and the federal government do not want you to see here. And a video of a Gulf flyover taken on June 21 below:

[The Tonka Report has also already posted this video in a previous article – Very Powerful!]

Normally, with a story like this, I would be lamenting the lack of corporate media coverage, but many mainstream news sources have reported that journalists and photographers are being denied access to the Gulf coast by BP, local law enforcement and federal officials.

New York Times, June 7: Journalists struggling to document the impact of the oil rig explosion have repeatedly found themselves turned away from public areas affected by the spill, and not only by BP and its contractors, but by local law enforcement, the Coast Guard and government officials…another example of a broader problem of officials filtering what images of the spill the public sees.

AP via the Boston Globe: In at least two cases, a media organization and a seaplane pilot (see above video) say BP PLC appeared to have a role in deciding on access. Other media, including the AP, have reported coverage problems because their access has been restricted.

Ted Jackson, a photographer for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, said Saturday that access to the disaster area “is slowly being strangled off.”

The details of how this disaster is being handled may not be as important as the big picture. BP and the U.S. government are using police powers to intimidate, threaten, detain and potentially imprison anyone who seeks to report the truth of what is happening on the Gulf Coast.

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. What could possibly be happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now that is so drastic that BP and the federal government is willing to destroy our rights in order to protect their secrets?

The police state behavior of this, however, may be even more significant. In effect, BP, a British corporation, is now controlling American law enforcement officials and a branch of the U.S. military. It is impossible to know where government actions end and corporate actions begin because the line between them no longer exists.

Your rights as a free citizen have been obliterated in the past 10 years, and what is happening in the Gulf is a good example of that. America is on the verge of becoming a fascist corporatocracy that answers to the financial interests of huge corporations – at the expense of the freedoms and tax dollars of the people.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: I received a very disturbing email tonight from a friend in New Orleans stating that people there are suffering “mysterious seizures”. She also said that when linking to my site she receives a “warning” from Google that the site may be unsafe and could “compromise” her computer. I have received no notification whatsoever from Google or WordPress, have checked the site thoroughly, as well as contacted several people from other areas of the country and not one of them reported receiving this “warning” which immediately raised suspicions of yet another government attempt at censorship in order to prevent the people in the Gulf coast regions from accessing information concerning the truth about the Gulf oil false flag disaster. Thus far, the only person to my knowledge experiencing this false “warning” from Google lives in none other than New Orleans, Louisiana. Hmmm… This, my friends, is the definition of a Police State! – SJH   

Link to original article below…

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