In a move that resembled the Bush administration trying to bar reporters from the Hurricane Katrina damage, the Obama administration’s Coast Guard will now fine and jail journalists who come too close to BP oil spill clean-up efforts without permission. Journalists could find themselves facing a $40,000 fine and one to five years in prison.
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.”
(Source: RawStory.com and CNN)