Moore: I've Been Served
by Josh Grossberg
Sun, 29 Jul 2007 09:05:40 PM PDT
Maybe Michael Moore isn't paranoid, because it sure seems like the government really is out to get him.
The firebrand filmmaker says he has been served with a subpoena by the federal government for a trip to Cuba for his hit health-care documentary, Sicko. The Treasury Department confirmed two months ago that it was probing Moore's visit to Cuba, during which he was accompanied by some ailing 9/11 rescue workers.
Appearing Thursday on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Oscar winner said he had just learned backstage that he had been served with an order compelling him to testify about his sojourn to the communist nation.
"I haven't even told my own family this yet," Moore said. "I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me, going after me for helping these 9/11 rescue workers."
"No, no, for going to Cuba, not for helping them," chimed in Leno.
In March, the Fahrenheit 9/11 helmer and a trio of first responders who had fallen ill after working around ground zero traveled to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to demand the same quality health care that administration officials publicly promised was being given to suspected Al Qaeda terrorists held there.
After getting no response from U.S. authorities, Moore and his traveling companions subsequently received free medical treatment from Cuban doctors, which the 53-year-old helmer depicted in Sicko, ostensibly to point out the failings of America's health-care system.
"I didn't go there like Cameron Diaz, to get a tan," quipped Moore. "I was there to help them, and now I'm going to face this further harassment from the Bush people. Aren't they busy with something else?"
In May, the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, sent a letter to Moore requesting information about the trip, which it claimed was not approved. (Under the U.S. government's comprehensive trade embargo, American citizens are forbidden to work in Cuba unless granted an exception.)
Moore shot back with an open letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, calling for an end to the investigation and accusing the White House of playing politics by using a government agency to try to silence him.
He also stated he informed the OFAC in October about the Cuba trip, asserting that as a journalist, he qualified for an exemption to the travel ban, a point he reiterated with Leno last week.
"A journalist can go, and this is a work of journalism," said Moore. "And frankly, the larger point is being missed here. The point is that first of all, can we all agree we should take care of our 9/11 rescue workers?"
The statement elicited cheers from the studio audience.
Moore's attorney, David Boies, could not be reached for comment.
According to Reuters, Boies was contacted by a representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce, who requested the name of a person to accept the subpoena on Moore's behalf.
Aside from his burgeoning offscreen problems, Moore dropped another bombshell to Leno, saying that Harvey Weinstein—whose Weinstein company is distributing Sicko and who's also one of Hilary Clinton's biggest Hollywood supporters—asked Moore to cut scenes criticizing the Democratic presidential candidate.
The reason? Because Moore called out Clinton for purportedly accepting the most campaign donations of any senator from lobbyists representing the same private insurers and drug companies she's railed against in the past.
Moore refused, and Weinstein eventually backed down. The director also announced on The Tonight Show that the Weinstein Company has agreed to donate 11 percent of Sicko's box office to help ailing 9/11 workers who have been ignored by the Bush administration.