Vulture’s Picnic, 1% Vultures Praying on 99% Greg Palast Interview

David Pakman: Greg Palast is joining us again. is the website, he’s an investigative journalist. The new book, of
course, is called “Vultures’ Picnic”. And Greg, first of all, congratulations on the
book, it is fantastic. I looked at it over the weekend. Greg Palast: Yeah, thank you. It was fun writing
it. David: Yeah, so I mean, I can’t even imagine,
the action kind of begins with the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and
the story, which is written almost like a thriller, goes through a number of different
places all over the world. And my number one question that I don’t… I would love to hear
from you is, in which of these places did you most worry about your personal safety
and well-being? Palast: New York, because Miss Badpenny has
a terrible right hook. My Chief Investigatrix, and when she gets mad, it can be very violent,
as you can see from the first chapter. So I do worry about that, but actually, when
I was arrested in Azerbaijan by the… by the very fashionable dictatorship there, you
know, it was a little bit worrisome, to say the least. But I figured that, you know… by the way,
for those listening who don’t know where Azerbaijan is, in “Vultures’ Picnic”, I’m investigating
Deepwater Horizon by going to this nation that was pooped out by the Soviet Union when
it collapsed called Azerbaijan. You don’t have to worry about it until the 82nd Airborne
arrives there, that’s how we learn geography in America. David: Yeah, so describe the arrest, though. Palast: Yeah. Well, I was… so first of all,
I’m in Vegas and speaking to an attorney who represents rig workers, and this is completely…
it had nothing to do with Deepwater Horizon, because it was April 20th, Hitler’s birthday,
my ex-wife’s birthday. And suddenly we see he’s grim, and he says I just got a call from
the Coast Guard that a rig, Deepwater Horizon, where my clients were, had exploded, and there’s
a safety capsule floating in the Gulf. And he wanted… the Coast Guard wanted permission
to open it up, because they thought that these guys were inside the safety capsule, which
is, in case there’s a fire, they go inside it, that they were cooked alive, and they
wanted to open it up. But they weren’t in there, in fact, they were vaporized in the
explosion. So, but I knew when I heard it was BP that
this is… I don’t think it’s an accident. And so I set off, first of all, I immediately
knew that the answers, that the documents I needed would be in Alaska. That’s a different
matter, that’s a different chapter. But first I got a cable, a message, saying, “This is
not the first time,” about the Deepwater Horizon. Click. I can’t… “I can’t speak on these
systems.” It’s from a ship floating in the Caspian Sea
off Azerbaijan, so I fly there, and… for BBC. If it were Anderson Cooper, of course,
he wouldn’t be able to get his makeup man over there, so forget it. But… David: You use a local makeup guy, right? Palast: [Laughs] Yeah, the police, you’d be
surprised what a good job they do on your face. So the… so I take off for Azerbaijan, not
easy to get into, harder to get out of, and I… and I take off across the… I want to
find out, was there really another blowout on another BP rig? So I go off to BP’s terminal
in this oily nation, and I get arrest stopped, you know, I went… because I went offroad
straight across the desert like Rommel. Didn’t work out well for Rommel, either. And we got arrested. Secret police, all the
bigshots from internal security in this nation, the torturers-in-chief show up, which kind
of like, a bit nerve-wracking, why was I so honored? But they had… obviously they got a tip that
I was looking out for what really happened with BP. It’s an Islamic republic, called
The Islamic Republic of BP, because they pray to British Petroleum five times a day. And
I knew I was in a bit of trouble. So the first thing they did is say, “Give
us your film,” in Azeri, but we knew exactly what they were saying. So of course we give
them the film, because, can’t be impolite to heavily-armed people with cattle prods. David: And do you use any of these methods
some people will use where, for example, they keep blank tapes in the camera and actuall
are taping to cards, and then you hand them the tape but you’ve got all the footage? Do
you use any of those methods? Palast: We certainly do, and they know that,
too. David: All right. Palast: So they took the blank ones. What
they didn’t do is take my pen, right? David: Right. Palast: Yeah. There, can you see it? I’ve
got one of these Austin Powers pens that Miss Badpenny, my Chief Investigatrix, had given
me before I boarded for Baku, the capital. So… David: It looks like a hell of a pen. But
so what’s the containment like? Palast: I got stuff on the… I got inside
this little Austin Powers pen camera, and I got all the material on the pen camera.
So we brought… in fact, if you go to, you can actually see some of the film I took
with the pen camera while under arrest, and to get it out of the country, which still
wasn’t so easy in the end, because, you know, also, I mean, you have to understand that
the dictatorship is run by a guy… by Baba, Grandpa, everyone has to call him Baba, which
means Grandpa, or they’re, you know, or else, if you don’t call him Baba. And his wife is the sexiest Islamic woman
on the planet. That’s official. There was a vote, no kidding, on “Esquire” Magazine,
sexiest Islamist… Islamic woman. She ought to be, because God knows how much they spent
on surgery. According to State Department cables, she had so much surgery on her face
that she is incapable of expression. Though I don’t know what expression she would have,
like what, compassion? I don’t get it. So this is this miserable oil state which
basically was created by British Petroleum, but we came out with the evidence there was
another blowout identical to the Deepwater Horizon situation where it was British Petroleum,
Transocean rig, and they’re using crap cement, cheapo cement stuff, that they used, and made
by Halliburton, which they used in the Gulf, which failed. Same thing, two years before the Deepwater
Horizon. They covered it up. They covered it up by beatings, by bribery, by babes, all
of these in BP. So that’s part of the investigation, is getting through this material and getting
it out there, getting the inside stuff from witnesses who were scared to death, of course,
just scared to death, and kind of the… you know, for me, I know, look, I’m a reporter
for BBC Television, despite being American, in the end they’re going to let me go, but
they’re going to… you know, they’re going to pull out the fingernails of all the people
I talked to. I was really scared to death because I had,
on my little pen, I had also, I ripped out all the pages of my notebook which had any
source information, but then as I’m leaving the airport, there’s like four checkpoints,
and there’s the X-ray machine. I stupidly throw the… I lose a James Bond award every
week, by the way. I lose a James Bond award by throwing the pen in my… amongst my underwear
instead of just sticking it among other pens where it might not be noticed. By separating
it and putting it in among my clothes, so on an X-ray machine, it kind of, and it looks
like I have either a dildo or a gun silencer. David: Right. Palast: So the guy finds it, I go, “Oh, shoot.”
I don’t think I said shoot, but whatever it is in Azeri for well, I’ll be spending the
next six months looking for diplomatic help. And in the end, though, and I was worried
about my sources, but he said, “I know,” you know, through a translator, someone who speaks
English, he says, “I know what this is, and they’re going to get you at the next checkpoint.” David: No, it’s incredible, and you know,
the… I recommend people look at the book. That’s just one story. Also, there’s questions
of chewing whale meat, and there’s just so much that people really need to look at. I
wish we had more time, but we’ve been speaking with Greg Palast, the book is “Vultures’ Picnic”, is the website. Transcript provided by Subscriptorium Multimedia
Linguistic Services. For transcripts, translations, captions, and subtitles, or for more information,
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