Michael Moore Under Investigation By US Treasury Department for Cuba Trip
David German, the AP movie writer, reported that notorious liberal bomb-thrower and fact-fudger, Michael Moore “is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department for taking ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming health-care documentary 'Sicko.' " The May 10 article seemed very matter of fact, but Moore and his movies were presented from the perspective that the filmmaker is controversial but accurate and is persecuted by his “adversaries.”
The AP indicated that the Treasury Department is investigating Moore because he did not follow the law. The AP obtained a copy of a letter, dated May 2, sent by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which informed Moore that it was investigating potential violations of the US trade embargo which restricts US travel to Cuba. According to an unnamed source affiliated with “Sicko,” this past February, Moore took ill Ground Zero workers to Cuba for “treatment” (my use of irony quotes because Cuba used new and unproven procedures. Emphasis mine throughout):
"This office has no record that a specific license was issued authorizing you to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba," Dale Thompson, OFAC chief of general investigations and field operations, wrote in the letter to Moore.
After receiving the letter, Moore arranged to place a copy of the film in a "safe house" outside the country to protect it from government interference, said the person working on the release of the film.
Treasury officials declined to answer questions about the letter. "We don't comment on enforcement actions," said department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise.
The letter noted that Moore applied Oct. 12, 2006, for permission to go to Cuba "but no determination had been made by OFAC." Moore sought permission to travel there under a provision for full-time journalists, the letter said.
According to the letter, Moore was given 20 business days to provide OFAC with such information as the date of travel and point of departure; the reason for the Cuba trip and his itinerary there; and the names and addresses of those who accompanied him, along with their reasons for going.
Potential penalties for violating the embargo were not indicated. In 2003, the New York Yankees paid the government $75,000 to settle a dispute that it conducted business in Cuba in violation of the embargo. No specifics were released about that case.
The AP portrayed Moore's work in a passive but positive manner and did not include any of the obvious failings of the Cuban health care system, while describing several scenes from “Sicko” that are critical of the US system.
The AP did, however, include several of Moore's “opponents” who accuse him of “distorting the facts” but labeled them "conservatives" while identifying Moore as an "Academy Award-winning filmmaker" and omitting a "liberal" label..
The article failed to include the other controversies that are already brewing around “Sicko.” An April 15 New York Post article reported that Moore angered many of the 9/11 responder community with his “ 'Sicko' stunt", which was designed to make the US free-market health care system look bad while the praising the Cuban communist health care program. They felt Moore is just using them to trash America and bash Bush.
One of the responders who was courted by Moore, Joe Piccuro, an iron worker who cleared debris, stated, "I would rather die in America than go to Cuba.” Another responder, Michael McCormack, said that Moore left him hanging and did not follow through with what he said was a health care trip to Cuba promised by Moore and said the filmmaker was “trying to profiteer off of our suffering.”
Interestingly, the NY Post article contained information that relates to Moore's current legal troubles:
Travel to Cuba is severely restricted from the United States, but Moore's crew was granted access, the producer told McCormack, through a "general license that allows for journalistic endeavors there."
The Post quoted John Feal who raises money for responders and helped Moore locate candidates for the trip, who said the trip was a success and the people who went were “utterly happy.” Feal then said something about the treatment the Americans received in Cuba which summed up the Moore world-view of the communist country's health care system, “They got the Elvis treatment." Too bad the average Cubans don't get “the Elvis treatment” when they seek health care.
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*The Smoking Gun posted the Treasury Department's letter to Moore, which Moore's site released May 10, and noted the Treasury Department has no record of Moore obtaining a license and while it did not list the penalties for the trip, it did inform Moore that he is “required by law to provide the government a 'detailed written report' about his travels.”
*On Moore's site, "Sicko's" producer Meghan O'Hara issued a statement in response to the Treasury Department investigation which promised to “rip the band-aid off America's health care industry” and “expose the corporations that place profit before care and the politicians who care only about money.” She went on to say the US “health care system is broken and, all too often, deadly.” After bashing American health care, she moved to bashing the Bush Administration:
The efforts of the Bush Administration to conduct a politically motivated investigation of Michael Moore and 'SiCKO' will not stop us from making sure the American people see this film.
...President Bush and the Bush Administration should be spending their time trying to help these heroes get health care instead of abusing the legal process to advance a political agenda.
(hat tip Michelle Malkin)