I'm pretty upset about the press blockade British Petroleum is running in the Gulf of Mexico. They've blocked photographers from taking pictures of oil-soaked birds being cleaned, turned away a CBS news crew from filming a beach covered with oil (the U.S. Coast Guard helped BP with that one), and harassed an ABC News corespondent for running Skype near a cleanup crew.

Yesterday, reporter Scott Walker of WDSU in New Orleans actually needed the help of the Jefferson Parish sheriff to override the strong assertions of private security employees of Talon Security (I think they're these guys (warning: bad Flash site) that the press wasn't allowed within 100 yards of cleanup workers. Then when he was allowed to talk to the workers while they were taking a break, a BP security contractor told them to not talk to the press.

Here, watch the video:

Walker is right (and wonderfully tenacious). In an e-mail sent to CNN by a company rep, BP's COO Doug Suttles denied ever ordering cleanup workers not to talk to the press.

"Recent media reports have suggested that individuals involved in the cleanup operation have been prohibited from speaking to the media, and this is simply untrue," he said.


A couple things jump out at me.

One, it's pretty scary that our First Amendment rights are being trampled by private security contractors hired by BP, the corporation that caused this massive clusterfrack of a disaster in the first place. It's appalling in its brazenness.

Second, WHY IS BP IN CHARGE OF ANYTHING IN THE GULF!? They've lied, cheated, stolen, blundered, and killed their way into this oily mess, yet the U.S. government has done little but sit idly by twiddling its regulatory thumbs. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how badly the whole system is broken.

This is a 50-gallon barrel.

Photo: MJ Monty/Flickr

At 100,000 barrels of oil leaking out a day, there's enough oil gushing out of BP's broken oil well to fill that barrel every second.

Here's a minute's worth of BP's oil.

Every second nearly 50 barrels of oil gets pumped out into the Gulf. How many seconds did it take you to read this post? Multiply that by 50 and add it to BP's running total.

And we have months to go before it stops.

If there is any justice in the world, this will bankrupt BP. The whole lot of their executive corp should be thrown in jail for a decade or three. Real jail, not the one they sent Martha to.

And the oil gushes on.

Make sure to read my buddy Karl's post from Friday Gulf 'media blackout' triggers journalist fury.

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