Video-Blogger & Journalist Forced Back to Federal Prison Today

By Matt Pascarella

Only nineteen days after being released from the Federal Correction Institution in Dublin, California, video blogger and journalist Josh Wolf was forced to report back to prison this morning.

Wolf, subpoenaed by a grand jury earlier this year, refused to provide that jury with a video he shot while covering an anti-G8 demonstration that occurred in San Francisco on July 8, 2005.

On behalf of the federal government, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Finnigan filed the motion to revoke Wolf's bail last Thursday, September 14th.  

According to the motion, the government's argument to confine Wolf even after the court granted him bail was, "that whenever a witness refuses 'without just cause' to comply with a court order 'to testify or provide other information,' the district court may 'summarily order his confinement' until 'such time as the witness is willing to give such testimony or provide such information'."  

The motion was filed under the premise that the grand jury Wolf refuses to provide video to is still in session.  In this argument the Assistant Attorney General notes, "The clock is ticking on this grand jury's term of service and thus the coercive intent behind the recalcitrant witness statue is lessened with each passing day."  

Three days after this motion was filed, I met with Josh in New York, below is the video of that interview.  

At that time he did not know that only two days later, today, he would be forced to return to federal prison.

For the full background on the story, in Josh's own words, see the lo-res video rushes - via youtube - from the interview.

It's in 3 parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A higher-res quicktime file will be posted shortly. In the mean time click here for a lo-res QT

Matt Pascarella is a freelance journalist and award-winning producer for Investigative Journalist Greg Palast -- www.GregPalast.com

Reporter Palast Slips Clutches of Homeland Security

September 14th, 2006

by Greg Palast

Forget the orange suit. Exxon Mobil Corporation, which admits it was behind the criminal complaint brought by Homeland Security against me and television producer Matt Pascarella, has informed me that the oil company will no longer push charges that Pascarella and I threatened "critical infrastructure."

The allegedly criminal act, which put us on the wrong side of post-9/11 anti-terror law, was our filming of Exxon's Baton Rouge refinery where, nearby, 1,600 survivors of Hurricane Katrina remain interned behind barbed wire.

I have sworn to Homeland Security that we no longer send our footage to al-Qaeda -- which, in any case, can get a much better view of the refinery and other "critical infrastructure" at Google Maps.

Given Exxon's back-down, I hope to confirm with Homeland Security, Baton Rouge, that charges will be dropped today.

Matt and I want to thank you, our readers and viewers, for your extraordinary and heartfelt responses. Public support undoubtedly led Exxon to call off the feds.

Of course, this was never about our tipping off Osama that Louisiana contains oil refineries. This has an awful lot to do with a petroleum giant's sensitivity to unflattering depictions of their plants which are major polluters along Louisiana's notorious "Cancer Alley."

I've learned that, in April last year, Exxon brought a similar Homeland Security charge against Willie Fontenot, an assistant to the Attorney General of Louisiana. Fontenot was guiding a group of environmental studies pupils from Antioch College on a tour of Cancer Alley. Exxon's complaint about the "national security" threat posed by their photos of the company's facility cost Fontenot his job.

The issue is not national security but image security. You can get all the film you want from Exxon of refineries if you'll accept nice, sanitized VNRs (video news releases) of clean smokestacks surrounded by happy herons.

What's dangerous is not that reporters will end up in Guantanamo; the insidious effect of these threats is to keep networks from filming government and corporate filth, incompetence and inhumanity. Besides the Exxon foolishness, our camera crew was also blocked from filming inside the notorious Katrina survivors trailer encampment.

Furthermore earlier that same day, a FEMA contractor had grabbed our camera, in mid-interview, when polite but pointed questions exposed their malfeasance.

As with Exxon, the bar from filming at the refugee camp and in the offices of the government contractor were presented to us as a "Homeland Security" matter.

After the September 11 attacks, CBS Newsman Dan Rather said, "George Bush is the President. ...Wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where."

Reporters who step out of line, who ask uncomfortable questions and film uncomfortable scenes, soon find their careers toasted, to which Dan can attest.

One of George Bush's weirder acts in office (and that's saying a lot) was to move FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose main job is to save us from floods and earthquakes, into the control of the Department of Homeland Security. Exxon's refineries, once "pollution source points" scrutinized by government watchdogs, are now "critical infrastructure" protected by federal hounddogs.

As the front lines in the War on Terror expand from Baghdad to Baton Rouge, we find that America has been made secure only against hard news and uncomfortable facts.

Again, our sincere thanks and gratitude for your support. Cakes with files have been consumed.

- Greg Palast, New York

Many of you have asked for copies of the film which threatened national security. In response to your requests, with the permission of LinkTV, we are making "Big Easy to Big Empty: the Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans" available on DVD. The disc will also include an interview of reporter Greg Palast by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman plus an excerpt from Palast's bestseller, Armed Madhouse on the topic, "Class War and Hurricane Katrina."

For a copy of the film, I am asking for a modest, tax-deductible donation to our foundation, the Palast Investigative Fund. The fund supports our work and pays our legal fees.

Palast & Pascarella Charged with Journalism in the First Degree

September 11, 2006Not Greg and Matt

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.

Click here to Read the full story. Click here for the first part and here for the second part of the Democracy Now! report.

On August 22nd, for LinkTV and DemocracyNow! we videotaped the thousands of Katrina evacuees still held behind barbed wire in a trailer park encampment a hundred miles from New Orleans. It's been a year since the hurricane

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