Y2k mockumentary returns, Feds keep quietgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Y2K Mockumentary Returns, Feds Keep Quiet
By Robert MacMillan, Newsbytes WASHINGTON, DC, U.S.A., 30 Nov 1999, 3:55 PM CST
A short, fictional film detailing a supposed US Army- instigated race riot in Times Square on New Year's Eve 1999 is back online despite the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Attorney's Office successfully persuaded the filmmaker's Web host to take it down.
Mike Z. released the seven-minute film on his Website earlier this month, with a short introduction saying that a cousin in the Army had sent it to him and was not sure if it were a hoax. The film is a fictional Army briefing with tips for launching a race riot during pre-Year 2000 festivities.
Several viewers, believing the film to be real, had contacted the FBI, which is hard at work on Project Megiddo, an effort to short-circuit anticipated religious and/or paramilitary fanatics who may use the so-called millennium date change as an apocalyptic backdrop for violent acts.
Mark Wieger, president of the BECamation Web company, told Newsbytes that FBI Agent Joe Metzinger and US Attorney Lisa Korologos told him that the tape could be used to "incite a riot and their jobs were to insure that this did not happen." Wieger said neither filmmaker Mike Z., nor the law enforcement community clarified whether legal action already had been taken when the FBI and the attorneys office asked him to remove the site.
Wieger now believes he was the victim of a lie, saying that the FBI told him that if BECamation would not take down the site, then BECamation's own ISP would pull the site.
"Not knowing what had transpired with our provider, without any information from Mr. Z., and with the FBI's pressure, we felt we had no choice but to pull the site until further clarification could be obtained," Wieger said in a statement. "Until we could talk to all parties involved (and) obtain the information to make an informed choice, we kept the site down."
Although Mike Z.'s film wound up being posted on several mirror sites, BECamation still lost more than a $1,000 in business, he says.
Wieger personally has been receiving threats on the phone and via e-mail from "very disturbed people," he says. Wieger said that an article in the Village Voice about the incident, as well as information reported on the Slashdot.org Website resulted in BECamation being overrun with "flame" e-mail and threatening telephone calls because of the company originally backed away from First Amendment principles in light of government pressure.
"We were getting flamed big-time," Wieger said. "E-mail bombs, threatening phone calls at home and at work and on my cell phone... One guy said 'You're afraid for your Lexus and your mortgage payments.' I said 'Excuse me, I drive a four-year-old Ford van.'"
"Now that the situation has been clarified by all parties we are happy to offer the site again on our servers. The site is up and running," he said.
Since the Web host and filmmaker said the law enforcement agents did not produce a warrant or any sort of court order, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have raised the question of whether the FBI and the Attorney's Office used subtle threats or intimidation to restrict the filmmaker's First Amendment rights, he said. The FBI and US Attorney's Office may find themselves on the business end of a free speech lawsuit, he says.
Mike Z. told Newsbytes that he is meeting with the ACLU to discuss the case. An ACLU representative said, however, that there are no concrete plans to pursue the issue with Mike Z. at this time.
US Attorneys Office Spokesman Marvin Smilon told Newsbytes that since there is nothing about the case (if there is one) on the "public record," law enforcement may not comment on Wieger's and Mike Z.'s allegations.
Smilon said that law enforcement would release further statements on the case if any civil or criminal charges are filed against Mike Z. or BECamation.
The FBI Website is http://www.fbi.gov .
The US Department of Justice Website is http://www.usdoj.gov .
The film is available at http://www.crowdedtheater.com .
Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .
15:55 CST Reposted 21:57 CST
-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), December 01, 1999
Oh, tres cute:
"US Attorneys Office Spokesman Marvin Smilon told Newsbytes that since there is nothing about the case (if there is one) on the 'public record,' law enforcement may not comment on Wieger's and Mike Z.'s allegations."
Translation: the government is free to intimidate, harass, pressure, and abuse citizens under *color* of law, but so long as no actual charges are filed (even if they're not filed because there's no *basis* for filing charges), there's not a damned thing you can do or say to defend yourselves, and we'll close ranks to make sure of it.
And *then*, they can't resist following it all up with *another* thinly veiled threat!:
"Smilon said that law enforcement would release further statements on the case if any civil or criminal charges are filed against Mike Z. or BECamation."
-- Ron Schwarz (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 01, 1999.
Here's the link to the actual video.
-- John Ainsworth (email@example.com), December 01, 1999.