Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Palast Charged with Journalism in the First Degree

by Greg Palast

It's true. It's weird. It's nuts. The Department of Homeland Security, after a five-year hunt for Osama, has finally brought charges against … Greg Palast. I kid you not. Send your cakes with files to the Air America wing at Guantanamo.

Though not just yet. Fatherland Security has informed me that television producer Matt Pascarella and I have been charged with unauthorized filming of a "critical national security structure" in Louisiana.

On August 22, for LinkTV and Democracy Now! we videotaped the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind a barbed wire in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans. It's been a year since the hurricane and 73,000 POW's (Prisoners of W) are still in this aluminum ghetto in the middle of nowhere. One resident, Pamela Lewis said, “It is a prison set-up" -- except there are no home furloughs for these inmates because they no longer have homes.

To give a sense of the full flavor and smell of the place, we wanted to show that this human parking lot, with kids and elderly, is nearly adjacent to the Exxon Oil refinery, the nation's second largest, a chemical-belching behemoth.

So we filmed it. Without Big Brother's authorization. Uh, oh. Apparently, the broadcast of these stinking smokestacks tipped off Osama that, if his assassins pose as poor Black folk, they can get a cramped Airstream right next to a "critical infrastructure" asset.

So now Matt and I have a "criminal complaint" lodged against us with the feds.

The positive side for me as a journalist is that I get to see our terror-busters in action. I should note that it took the Maxwell Smarts at Homeland Security a full two weeks to hunt us down.

Frankly, we were a bit scared that, given the charges, we wouldn't be allowed on a plane into New York last night. But what scared us more is that we were allowed on the plane.

Once I was traced, I had a bit of an other-worldly conversation with my would-be captors. Detective Frank Pananepinto of Homeland Security told us, "This is a 'Critical Infrastructure' … and they get nervous about unauthorized filming of their property.

Well, me too, Detective. In fact, I'm very nervous that this potential chemical blast-site can be mapped in extreme detail at this Google Map location

What also makes me nervous is that the Bush Terror Terriers have kindly indicated on the Internet that this unprotected critical infrastructure can be targeted -- I mean located -- at 30º 29' 11" N Latitude and 91º 11' 39" W Longitude.

After I assured Detective Pananepinto, "I can swear to you that I'm not part of Al Qaeda," he confirmed that, "Louisiana is still part of the United States," subject to the first amendment and he was therefore required to divulge my accuser.

Full story...

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