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09/13/2006 Archived Entry: "Journalist Greg Palast in hot oil with Homeland (Achtung!) Security"

I READ TALES LIKE THIS and I think about my cousin who toured the Soviet Union back in the 1970s.

At the end of a multi-day river voyage, "the authorities" lined up all the tourists who'd photographed buildings and statues along the banks and confiscated their cameras. The boat had been full of secret police or their informers, making note of who took pictures. My cousin was savvy enough to have brought two cameras. One he handed over like a good little sheep. The other -- the one that actually contained the film with his riverside photos -- he brought home.

Those photos were boring as all get out. Lots of collosal, ugly "workers of the world" kind of statues and a few low, ugly blurs of buildings on the horizon. But how we all laughed at my cousin's coup. And how we shook our heads at the bizarre paranoia of the Soviet state. Who could imagine living in a country so screwed up that tourists couldn't take photographs?

Now ... a pair of American journalists are in trouble with Homeland (Actung!) Security for filming an Exxon oil refinery without federal government permission. And to make matters even more bizarre, it's a refinery whose photo and exact coordinates are available to all the world on Google Maps.

Is this a police state we're coming up on? Or is it a madhouse? Whatever it is, don't dare take a picture of it, Comrade!

Posted by Claire @ 06:49 PM CST

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