By Ray Pride

Screenwriter Mark Boal Sues Feds For Military Overreach In Bowe Bergdahl Case



Military Prosecutor’s Threat to Subpoena Boal’s First Amendment-Protected Taped Interviews with Bergdahl Prompts Suit


Taped Interviews Were Part of Boal’s and NPR’s Peabody Award-Winning Investigative Report, ‘Serial’


LOS ANGELES, CA, THURSDAY, JULY 21—Mark Boal filed a suit in a Los Angeles federal court against President Barack Obama, Department of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, Army court-martial convening authority General Robert Abrams and U.S Army Prosecutor Major Justin Oshana in response to Oshana’s threat to subpoena Boal’s taped interviews with accused Army deserter and prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, who is facing a general court-martial.


Boal, through his lawyer Jean-Paul Jassy of Jassy Vick Carolan LLP, filed Boal v ObamaWednesday, July 20 in an effort to prevent the nearly unprecedented move by the military prosecutor in the Bergdahl case to force a private citizen into military court to relinquish legally protected materials for an ongoing military trial.


Boal has been a journalist for 20 years and is an Oscar winning filmmaker of “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” the latter which of which drew upon his experiences as an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003. The Tommy Lee Jones starring film “In the Valley of Elah” was based on Boal’s 2001 investigative reportage.


As stated in the filing: The threatened Subpoena from the North Carolina-based military prosecutor against a civilian is unlawful and inconsistent with the First Amendment, the common law, Department of Justice guidelines for the issuance of subpoenas to reporters and state protections for reporters.


“Mark Boal fully supports the military justice system and believes that Bergdahl has to face the music in a fair judicial process,” says Jassy. “But Boal is a civilian and a journalist, and under the First Amendment, he should not be hauled into a military court to divulge his unpublished and confidential materials. We are asking the federal court in Los Angeles to protect Mark Boal’s constitutional rights.”


Boal’s taped confidential interviews with Bergdahl are protected under the First Amendment. Many of Bergdahl’s revelations made during his 25 hours of interviews were made public–with his express and legal consent–by way of the multi-part “Serial” podcast earlier this year.


States Boal: “I support the Army, but this particular military prosecutor’s tactics contradict and undermine the stated principles and policies of the Commander and Chief and the Attorney General to protect First Amendment rights. It’s Orwellian, and bizarre.”


Boal’s litigation has drawn the support of one of the most respected journalism advocacy groups in the country, the Washington, DC-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.


“We firmly stand with Mr. Boal in his effort to protect these tapes,” says the organization’s Executive Director Bruce Brown.  “Well-established law recognizes that journalists cannot do their jobs to keep the public informed if they cannot work free from government interference.”


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

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And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

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~ Hampton Fancher

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