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Hollywood icon John McTiernan is 1 month into a 12 month prison sentence
May 28, 2013 3:34 PM   Subscribe

A very sad tale of one of the most respected action movie directors in cinema history.
posted by shimmerbug (108 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone who directed Predator, Die Hard and Hunt for Red October gets a lifetime pass from me.

Look at all these thieving bankers and politicians that lie all damn day in court and walk out scot-free. Have they ever brought anything into the world as great as Die Hard? NO.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:40 PM on May 28, 2013 [30 favorites]


Look, I think this punishment is excessive no matter how bad The Thomas Crowne Affair was.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:47 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Your honor, my client made Die Hard. I'm not saying that gets him out of a murder, but I think it merits a pass on lying to the FBI."
"Did he have anything to do with the last one?"
"He emphatically did not, your honor."
"Case dismissed."
posted by Etrigan at 3:49 PM on May 28, 2013 [48 favorites]


So, yet again, we're supposed to be outraged and sympathetic when a privileged white person suffers from prosecutorial abuses when we haven't been paying attention to the fact that this has been happening every single day for many decades to mostly poor and/or minority defendants?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:52 PM on May 28, 2013 [15 favorites]


But, dude... Die Hard.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:53 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not a zero sum game, Ivan. You can be against the government abuses of McTiernan and not be for government abuses of other poor, minority, etc....
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 3:53 PM on May 28, 2013 [62 favorites]


Amy, this isn't Nakatomi Plaza.
posted by koeselitz at 3:57 PM on May 28, 2013


McTiernan really did lie, though. I also have no idea why anyone would consent to be interviewed by the FBI over the phone, without the presence of a lawyer.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:57 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm like, ya know... not to shit on anything (what with me being a Communist and all), but I imagine that the funding for Die Hard took a lot of money that was secured and paid by a bank at some point. I mean, I could be wrong. So, in a way, they have.

And what TheFlamingoKing said. I'm plenty outraged on behalf of all sorts of injustices against the downtrodden... I'm not sure if I'm a prison abolitionist or not, but I'm sympathetic to their cause. I can also be against an injustice for people who actually are well off as well.
posted by symbioid at 3:58 PM on May 28, 2013


The Rollerball remake has brought nothing but suffering and remorse into this world.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:01 PM on May 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


If lying to the FBI is a crime, is it allowed to reply to every question they ask you over the phone with non sequiturs instead?
posted by Hoopo at 4:02 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I rule the case be dismissed as no Rollerball remake exists.
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on May 28, 2013


Basic was pretty baffling as well, although it is an enjoyably bad movie with some fun scenery-chewing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:05 PM on May 28, 2013


If lying to the FBI is a crime, is it allowed to reply to every question they ask you over the phone with non sequiturs instead?

I am kind of wondering how "as far as I can recall" holds up.
posted by Artw at 4:05 PM on May 28, 2013


So, yet again, we're supposed to be outraged and sympathetic when a privileged white person suffers from prosecutorial abuses when we haven't been paying attention to the fact that this has been happening every single day for many decades to mostly poor and/or minority defendants?

Not that it'll happen, but if outrage and sympathy for this privileged white person led to the desperately-needed reforms in the criminal justice system, I would be 100% ok with that.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:06 PM on May 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


As Baldwin, who starred as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, told BuzzFeed: “If prosecutors can do this to John McTiernan, they can do this to anyone.”

Seriously, no offense to the PR team behind this, but I laughed when i saw this part... literally 'do you know who I am?'

I can also be against an injustice

And this isn't that. I'd have some sympathy if this was being used to highlight problems or bring reform but this story ends with a "Free John McTiernan" link. None of this seems more than an effort to support making an exception for the rich white guy.
posted by anti social order at 4:07 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Last Action Hero isn't the horrible abomination everything thinks it to be, damn it! I haven't seen it in probably 10 years, but I remember going to the theater and really enjoying the self-referential screwball-ness of it all. The magic ticket may have been of a cornball plot device, but it's a movie about an alternate universe Arnold Schwarzenegger coming into this universe and finding that Action Movie Physics do not apply here. Do you have a better idea that will enable this wildly improbable event? The end, where his mortal injury is magically turned into nothing more then a flesh wound when he crosses barriers back to his home dimension? Brilliant!

Err.. sorry.. I sometimes defend Last Action Hero apropos of nothing when anything remotely related comes up..
posted by mediocre at 4:10 PM on May 28, 2013 [24 favorites]


As Baldwin, who starred as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, told BuzzFeed: “If prosecutors can do this to John McTiernan, they can do this to anyone.”

Seriously, no offense to the PR team behind this, but I laughed when i saw this part... literally 'do you know who I am?'


Wait, how is "if they can railroad a wealthy and prominent Hollywood figure they can railroad you too" the equivalent of "do you know who I am?"
posted by eugenen at 4:11 PM on May 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm with you on that, mediocre.
posted by brundlefly at 4:11 PM on May 28, 2013


Last Action Hero was a lot of fun.

"GHAAAAA!!! WHAT DO YOU MEAN I RUN OUT OF BULLETS!?" Worth it for that and the supermodels working at Blockbuster.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:14 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did he 'swear to tell the truth, so help him god' over the phone? Was he being deposed at that time? Was he Mirandized? If not, then as far as I can ascertain, the FBI and prosecutor should go fuck themselves.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 4:15 PM on May 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am kind of wondering how "as far as I can recall" holds up.

It comes down to intent. The law requires it to be knowing and willful, and the prosecution would have to prove this. Presumably, they came up with a plausible reason why his answer was a lie and not just a "oh, shit, I forgot about that one" in order to win the conviction.

(This is why you never lie to law enforcement. You have the right to refuse to answer, but not the right to lie.)

I'm willing to bet there is more to this story than just a phone call and a failure to remember hiring a guy. Even if this was just a vendetta by one prosecutor, that prosecutor has a boss, and bosses have to approve the time spent investigating and trying cases.
posted by gjc at 4:15 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, yet again, we're supposed to be outraged and sympathetic when a privileged white person suffers from prosecutorial abuses when we haven't been paying attention to the fact that this has been happening every single day for many decades to mostly poor and/or minority defendants?

Not that it'll happen, but if outrage and sympathy for this privileged white person led to the desperately-needed reforms in the criminal justice system, I would be 100% ok with that.


And not that this would happen, either, but if outrage and sympathy for this privileged white person led to the creation of more movies as awesome as Die Hard and Predator, I would be 100% ok with that.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:16 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did he 'swear to tell the truth, so help him god' over the phone? Was he being deposed at that time? Was he Mirandized? If not, then as far as I can ascertain, the FBI and prosecutor should go fuck themselves.

Two different crimes. Perjury versus making false statements. There is no right to lie to the authorities.
posted by gjc at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually thought the Thomas Crown affair was pretty good. It's well shot, it's nice to see a leading lady that isn't 19 years old, and it has a nice lack of reliance on violence... it's probably the least violent relatively recent action movie you'll see. And I like the Magritte deception thing, that was fun.

The one thing I really like about McTiernan movies is the use of real architecture and real space. Die Hard in particular, obviously. My memory is really spatial and movies that show a memory from scene to scene of the spaces they are in really tickle my brain.
posted by selfnoise at 4:19 PM on May 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


"Not a zero sum game, Ivan. You can be against the government abuses of McTiernan and not be for government abuses of other poor, minority, etc...."

Sure. And the individuals and outlets who call attention to these problems generally, and the readers who pay attention to these problems generally, are not who I'm criticizing. But Buzzfeed isn't in that group, nor are most of those who read this article.

As Tomorrowful wrote, these sorts of stories don't, in fact, raise much awareness of the general problem.

Rather, I think they produce a net-negative because ultimately, absent regular stories about prosecutorial abuses against random poor drug-offender X, these unusual stories about privileged people reinforce the invisibility of all those people who account for the vast majority of those treated unfairly by the US's criminal justice system.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:30 PM on May 28, 2013


This is so bizarre. If someone called me in the middle of dinner one night alleging to be from the FBI and started asking me random questions about some dude I knew 5 years earlier I would assume it was someone fucking with me and I would answer accordingly.

I mean really I wouldn't answer the phone at all in the first place because ugh, talking to people. Why.
posted by elizardbits at 4:32 PM on May 28, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ignoring a voicemail from the FBI - five years, creep!
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't talk to the cops, people. I'm amazed at how many people end up in trouble because they speak to the police, lie to the police, or consent to let the police search their car when they don't have too. All you have to do is say no, or Dave Chapel put it "plead the fif".

This guy is hardly the first person to go to jail for lying to the FBI, In fact, in the Martha Stewart case a lot of the reason she went to prison was the fact she lied about it. Had she told the truth up front she probably would have gotten a fine.
If lying to the FBI is a crime, is it allowed to reply to every question they ask you over the phone with non sequiturs instead?
It's allowed to not talk to them at all, which is what you should do if you don't want to tell them something.

Also it's only 12 months in jail. That's a pretty short sentence as far as the US goes.
Did he 'swear to tell the truth, so help him god' over the phone? Was he being deposed at that time? Was he Mirandized? If not, then as far as I can ascertain, the FBI and prosecutor should go fuck themselves.
It doesn't matter, you still can't lie to them. You can, however chose not to speak to them.
This is so bizarre. If someone called me in the middle of dinner one night alleging to be from the FBI and started asking me random questions about some dude I knew 5 years earlier I would assume it was someone fucking with me and I would answer accordingly.
Okay, well now you know. Just say no comment and hang up.
I'm like, ya know... not to shit on anything (what with me being a Communist and all), but I imagine that the funding for Die Hard took a lot of money that was secured and paid by a bank at some point. I mean, I could be wrong. So, in a way, they have.
I'm not sure, I would think most of the money came from the movie studios, which are setup entirely to fund movies. I kind of doubt banks would be involved in making loans for something as risky as a film. I'm sure they used banks to hold money in accounts and stuff, but they probably weren't really needed to fund
posted by delmoi at 4:37 PM on May 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


Two different crimes. Perjury versus making false statements. There is no right to lie to the authorities.

So, never answer any questions at all.

Obligatory
posted by tyllwin at 4:38 PM on May 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


But the State is allowed to lie to citizens.
posted by Jode at 4:47 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wait, you can't lie to the FBI?

You can still lie to normal cops though, right?
posted by ryanrs at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


And in case you have seen the Obligatory "Don't talk to police" video that tyllwin posts above, you should still check this video out as to why you never, ever want to give any interview with the FBI without a tape recorder AND council. Sadly, a great director was jetlagged and now must spend a year in prison due to a single word he said to an FBI agent.
posted by Catblack at 4:51 PM on May 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


The part that seems really terrible is this: "The prosecution retaliated by adding another felony count of lying to the FBI, and a perjury charge, claiming by withdrawing his plea, McTiernan had committed perjury."
posted by ckape at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Better call Saul.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:53 PM on May 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


You can still lie to normal cops though, right?
Um, no? Where did you come up with that theory?
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on May 28, 2013


Shit, I better call them back!
posted by ryanrs at 4:56 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not a lie if you believe it.*


*it's still a lie
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:57 PM on May 28, 2013


Probably his making a conspiracy theory film about the case didn't endear him to the judge. And he had reversed a guilty plea in the first sentencing, where he was to get four months.

Sounds like the prosecutor's office wanted bigger fish, but since McTiernan rubbed them the wrong way, they settled for him and whatever they could make stick. Kinda scary what they can make stick though, huh?

Judge's opinion (PDF)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:04 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


"it's not a lie if it's rapped" gavels the judge as the prosecutor stomps his feet and pulls his hair. john mctiernan high-fives his combination attorney and rap instructor. this is the dream he has every night in prison. then he wakes up in prison, and rapping will not help you there
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:05 PM on May 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's not a lie if you believe it.*


*it's still a lie
Well, all that matters it that a prosecutor might think it's a lie and convince a judge. It might even be the truth.
posted by delmoi at 5:07 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anytime anyone, rich or poor, is prosecuted to the letter of or the full extent of the law for victimless crimes is bullshit and a sick form of taxation and harassment.

Who was the victim in this case? The FBI? Their feelings were so hurt that they and the prosecutors had to ruin a guys life? They got the original perp they were after...what's the point after that? Was McT and actual collaborator with the perp? I doubt it.

The funny thing is that I have to laugh at my own indignation. There is nothing new in this story. This kind of bullshit prosecution for the sake of prosecution is as old as LAW itself.

We humans and our "systems" are still pretty uncivilized and barbaric.

Good luck McT!
posted by snsranch at 5:07 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


The one place I think I overlap with the Tea Party types and other loons of that ilk are that I have always thought in some ways of government and law enforcement as the enemy, but it's a very difficult position to hold if you stop to think about it, for me at least.

I am all in favour of more regulation, of social safety nets, of high taxes if they are actually used to provide services and infrastructure to citizens, all of that. If anything, growing up Canadian, I am comfortable with 'Big Government'. But I deliberately and at all times do my utmost to minimize my contact and interaction with any aspect of law enforcement or government agencies, because I firmly believe that once they get you in their sights somehow, they will fuck you up, grind you down, and spit you out.

Bureaucracy and its arbitrary pockets of stupid power terrify me more than they should, perhaps.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 PM on May 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


What I want to know is, if it's unlawful to lie to the authorities under any circumstance, by what right do they lie to me, an ordinary citizen, as much as they want, with no penalty?
posted by KHAAAN! at 5:10 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Scary stuff. This is not the first time I have heard of this ploy. I am a reasonably well-informed guy, but I did not know until recently that you can be charged for lying to the FBI.

The only sensible thing to do is to refuse to answer any questions, from the FBI, or really any other law-enforcement agency, without a lawyer, ever.
posted by thelonius at 5:10 PM on May 28, 2013


The only sensible thing to do is to refuse to answer any questions, from the FBI, or really any other law-enforcement agency, without a lawyer, ever.

It appalls me that most people are unaware of this fact. I feel like it should be taught in schools at a young age but ugh that is a giant can of horrible worms and madness to even imagine.
posted by elizardbits at 5:12 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's really not good for a society if normal citizens believe they cannot trust cops enough to talk to them, that they could be arrested and jailed for lying in a phonecall.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:14 PM on May 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


Who was the victim in this case? The FBI? Their feelings were so hurt that they and the prosecutors had to ruin a guys life?
Apparently. Buzzfeed aledges that the prosecutor was a failed actor who auditioned for some of McT's movies in the 80s and got rejected, thus his prosecution was payback for his failed acting carreer. The prosecutor, now in private practice says that's false and that he might have to sue McT again after he gets out of jail for defamation. Sounds like a pretty vindictive guy.
posted by delmoi at 5:15 PM on May 28, 2013


As Baldwin, who starred as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, told BuzzFeed: “If prosecutors can do this to John McTiernan, they can do this to anyone.”

Says the guy who was booted for Harrison Ford. Nice that you stick up for him, Baldwin, but he shoulda held out for you.
posted by tilde at 5:16 PM on May 28, 2013


It's really not good for a society if normal citizens believe they cannot trust cops enough to talk to them, that they could be arrested and jailed for lying in a phonecall.

But this is actually true, so it is certainly better for normal citizens to believe it.

If the cops want people to talk to them, perhaps they should become trustworthy.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:17 PM on May 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


I really hope McTiernan gets through this grim chapter and is able to resurrect his career. His work has been wonky at best since Die Hard 3, but we can't know how much of that is fallout from all the bullshit he's been wading through. A talent like his is not one that simply fades; you do not create a work of timeless motherfucking artistry like Predator and then somehow forget how you did it.

In light of his fellow 80's action maestro Shane Black's recent return from the wilderness to claim world-conquering success, McTiernan absolutely belongs up there with him - these two guys, along with Jim Cameron, are kind of like the Elvis, Dylan and Cash of Hollywood: they set the bar for commercial movies for an entire generation.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:19 PM on May 28, 2013


Um, no? Where did you come up with that theory?

At the hamburger stand.

I feel bad for McTiernan, but it's mostly out of sympathy for his work product. It looks like the conviction was the best charge the DOJ could wring out of hearsay evidence that he was the client for an illegal wiretapping, something for which he could have gotten five years.

Since the evidence was recovered from Pellicano's own files, it probably did not meet the chain-of-evidence restrictions for prosecution by itself. But it certainly suggests that McTiernan must have known what he was asking Pellicano to do (or agreeing to the suggestion, same difference in most cases) was, in fact, a very serious crime. As such I don't buy the "spoke to the FBI, figured somebody was messing with me" interpretation, alas.
posted by dhartung at 5:25 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scary stuff. This is not the first time I have heard of this ploy. I am a reasonably well-informed guy, but I did not know until recently that you can be charged for lying to the FBI.

That's what they got Martha Stewarr for, IIRC.

Yeah ... never, ever talk to the FBI.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:26 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


fellow 80's action maestro Shane Black

It should be noted that he didn't direct until the 2000s. Iron Man 3 is only his second time in the chair.
posted by dhartung at 5:48 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


McT is actually in a kind of weird position now regarding his film making. I guess it depends on how stoic vs. how pissed off he is.

If I was him, I'd move to a non-extradition country and work on an American Justice expose' that really fucks a lot of people up. McT isn't a junior player...unless he's had the fight beaten out of him.

He has the resources to do the research and implementation. He could easily implement some UnGodly Vengeance...and that's what he should call it. Or actually he could just make a documentary.

Whatever, as long as he fucks up the bad guys in an unmerciful fucked way. DO IT MC T!!11!1!!!
posted by snsranch at 5:55 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


(I am not a lawyer but I work for the ACLU)

DO NOT EVER AGREE TO AN INTERVIEW WITH THE FBI WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY. EVER.

The FBI conducts all interviews with two agents. One actually conducts the interview, and the second takes copious notes on the interview and on your responses. The information collected by the agent taking notes is then recorded into a "302" form, and this becomes the official transcript of the conversation you had with the FBI. Anything you say that contradicts the information on this form, ever, constitutes a federal offense for lying to an agent of the federal government.

They do not audio or video record the interview, and in fact have a standing agency-wide policy against any interviews being recorded.
posted by rollbiz at 5:56 PM on May 28, 2013 [39 favorites]


I feel bad for McTiernan, but it's mostly out of sympathy for his work product. It looks like the conviction was the best charge the DOJ could wring out of hearsay evidence that he was the client for an illegal wiretapping, something for which he could have gotten five years.
"We think he's guilty, but we can't prove it. So let's just get him thrown in jail on some bullshit charge we just made up on the flimsiest evidence possible" is not a reasonable way for prosecutors to behave.
As such I don't buy the "spoke to the FBI, figured somebody was messing with me" interpretation, alas.
Whether you buy it or not, that is what he was actually convicted of.
posted by delmoi at 5:59 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


You should never take "bosses have to approve the time spent investigating and trying cases" seriously as an argument. lol

The DOJ and FBI are psychopaths in the sense that organizations like corporations often behave like psychopaths, well corporations have similar reasons for behaving that way. Apparently the DOJ and FBI attract more of the human sort than even business though.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:13 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


As Baldwin, who starred as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, told BuzzFeed: “If prosecutors can do this to John McTiernan, they can do this to anyone.”

Whether, he deserved it or not, I really hate the "holy shit, this can happen to rich people?" attitude and that a bunch of celebrities think that their names should lend weight to anything dealing with the legal system.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:14 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude's prior attorney Diaz pretty much sinks the claim he didn't lie.

18 USC 1001 reads in pertinent part:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.

You can't lie to any federal employee in a case.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:25 PM on May 28, 2013


The people who are still arguing this was a vendetta and a railroad should probably read the judge's opinion that RobotVoodooPower posted above. Especially the undisputed facts part. Buzzfeed's coverage was... overly sympathetic.
posted by gjc at 6:27 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whenever I read about this kind of case, I wonder why anyone would *ever* talk to the police or the FBI (or any other federal employee, I guess, after reading what Ironmount wrote) about anything, no matter how innocuous seeming it is.

Since the well-publicized Martha Stewart fiasco, it seems prudent to have no verbal or written interaction whatsoever with the FBI or other federal investigators (local, too?).

Would there EVER be any upside to talking to them at all?
posted by JeffL at 6:32 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Buzzfeed aledges that the prosecutor was a failed actor who auditioned for some of McT's movies in the 80s and got rejected, thus his prosecution was payback for his failed acting carreer.

There is zero evidence to support that claim. The entire claim is his agent often sent actors to McT's casting sessions, therefore the prosecutor was automatically there and automatically mad because he didn't get picked.

The stuff that passes for "fact" these days is laughable.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:32 PM on May 28, 2013


That's the point - the government evidently felt unable to prosecute him for the actual offense that they maintain that he committed (soliciting illegal wiretaps), so they got him on this lying to an FBI agent charge. Or perhaps it was just easier for them this way. I am not OK with this. The legal system places a higher barrier to conviction than the authorities' mere desire to win a case, and for a good reason. They are due no assurance that they can just convict you on something else as a consolation prize. Here, there was nothing else, so they went out and created something.
posted by thelonius at 6:33 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read a bit about this a few years ago, but didn't know the details. Seems very likely a matter of a personal vendetta...surely it's possible to verify that this Sanders fellow actually did audition for the movies? He didn't say it under oath but if he's lying it's certainly part of the public record.
posted by zardoz at 6:41 PM on May 28, 2013


There is zero evidence to support that claim.
You don't actually need non-circumstantial evidence to form an opinion.
posted by delmoi at 6:43 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And FWIW, yes, The Last Action Hero is a perfectly good--even imaginative and original--movie. From what I remember, the problems with that movie are
1) a terrible casting choice with that kid...Austin Something...just an annoying presence and in most every scene.
And 2) the screenwriters did not understand comedy at all. AT ALL. The action scenes and the drama and the fantasy parts were all quite well done. But every time the movie tries to get the audience to laugh it falls flat and takes you right out of it. I recall some scene with the "angry police sergeant" with steam literally coming out of his ears...ugh.)
posted by zardoz at 6:44 PM on May 28, 2013


The people who are still arguing this was a vendetta and a railroad should probably read the judge's opinion that RobotVoodooPower posted above.

I read the judge's opinion. My response to it still meshes completely with the "DON'T TALK TO THE FBI" bit I posted above. Among other things, it's not just about lying, and it's not even about just misremembering a detail: Once you have given an interview to the FBI, the agent taking notes will file a 302 and that becomes the official record of your conversation, whether it is accurate or not. You might not even waver an inch in your testimony to them, but if you contradict the 302, BAM- You are in violation of 18 USC 1001. If you cannot even be on record with an honest and actual recorded interview, you should never willingly submit to said interview without speaking to a very good attorney and having them present. End of story.

Buzzfeed's coverage was... overly sympathetic.

But the judge's opinion, which omitted, among other things, some quibbling bits such as the fact that one of the DA's was not only tied to Pellicano but had tried out for multiple McTiernan films and was not cast, was totally fair and balanced?
posted by rollbiz at 6:46 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


He would have liked to have seen Montana.
posted by mrbill at 7:20 PM on May 28, 2013


If lying to the FBI is a crime, is it allowed to reply to every question they ask you over the phone with non sequiturs instead?

If she tries hard enough, and she's lucky enough, Lady Gaga can remain a superstar for years to come.
posted by layceepee at 7:31 PM on May 28, 2013


"Don't talk to the police" is the "shop the perimeter of the grocery store" of legal advice.
posted by ODiV at 7:32 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buzzfeed's account implies that McTiernan had a slip of the mind, possibly caused by the facts that he had "recently returned from Thailand and was jet-lagged and taking medication." This is being very generous: according to the report of McTiernan's trial it is undisputed that
he had hired Pellicano in or around August 2000 and paid him at least $50,000 to conduct an illegal wire-tap of two individuals, one of whom was Charles Roven, the producer of a movie that McTiernan was then directing. Pellicano installed the wiretaps, listened to the subjects’ business and personal telephone calls, and reported their contents to McTiernan.
Yeah, I don't think he just happened to forget this. The charge of making a false statement to the court came about because
during McTiernan’s guilty-plea hearing, he told the district court that his attorney had not advised him what to say at the hearing, but he later signed a declaration in connection with his plea withdrawal stating that his attorney had coached him and gave him specific wording to use to avoid admitting certain facts.
In other words, he either lied to a judge, and then signed a document admitting his lies; or he signed a false declaration claiming that he had lied - at the time he was appealing his conviction for lying! I'm sorry, I do actually think that US laws are too broad and too punitive, but this guy is both a dumbass and guilty as sin.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Says the guy who was booted for Harrison Ford. Nice that you stick up for him, Baldwin, but he shoulda held out for you.
posted by tilde at 8:16 PM on May 28 [+] [!]


Except that McTiernan didn't have anything to do with the Jack Ryan movies that starred Harrison Ford, so I'm not sure what he should have done about that...
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:38 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous. And sad. Let the guy out.
posted by michellenoel at 8:03 PM on May 28, 2013


"Don't talk to the police" is the "shop the perimeter of the grocery store" of legal advice.

You mean bad advice if I need cereal? Or oreos? Or Oreo Cereal, which I'm pretty sure has to exist in some form?
posted by maryr at 8:32 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


You mean Oreo-Os? I don't think they make that anymore.
posted by RobotHero at 8:34 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm less than sympathetic to this guy.

He illegally wiretapped people, then lied to the FBI about it.

He's in a federal pen where they have FRESH FRUIT, for Pete's sake.

A year in country club prison sounds about right.

People have certainly done more time for less.

He'll get out in a few months and do the talk show circuit and write a book. Instead of getting out and being an unemployable felon for the rest of his life.

Yeah, I'm not losing any sleep over this.

When the sign reads DON'T POKE THE BEAR, then don't poke the fucking bear.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:05 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


He's in a federal pen where they have FRESH FRUIT, for Pete's sake.

I don't want to get in a kerfuffle with you, BitterOldPunk, but: is this actually a thing? That convicts are or should be denied access to fruit? That seems, well, just a little crazy to me.

I mean, look, I know America has trouble even feeding fruit and vegetables to children in its schools, so it's not that outlandish an idea that prisoners might be denied it, I guess, but still.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:10 PM on May 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


Fruit and even a protein once a week!

It's basically vacation.
posted by rollbiz at 9:16 PM on May 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Lying to a police officer or other official might or might not be criminal depending on many different factors, despite some of the claims above.

Lying to Federal officers is covered by 18 USC § 1001 which makes it a felony to lie about any material fact whatsoever - pretty well anything.

But there's a hodge-podge of state laws - although if there is a specific case being investigated, then it is always or almost always illegal to misrepresent your identity or to give a police officer false information that impedes an investigation.

Some states go further - for example, in Washington State, "A person who knowingly makes a false or misleading material statement to a public servant is guilty of a gross misdemeanor."

In California, on the other hand, "in People v. Seijas, 36 Cal.4th 291 (2005) the California Supreme Court discussed but did not decide whether merely lying to a police officer was a crime under Penal Code section 148, though it did note that no case had held that lying to police, without more, was a crime."

It's sort of academic. You should avoid talking to the police at all under most circumstances. Be polite: "I'm terribly sorry, my lawyer told me I can't say anything to you without her here!"

The one case where you might consider talking to the police is where there's a public emergency and you are sure that you aren't a suspect - "Which door did the guy with the bomb go in?"

But even in that case I'd be very careful. As far as I know there are no Federal or State laws that prevents cops or other civil servants from lying to you if they aren't under oath, so they can tell you any old shit to get you to talk, particularly if they've read you your rights.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:16 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, they can lie to you, up to and including even divulging who they are and the very fact that that they are federal agents.
posted by rollbiz at 9:21 PM on May 28, 2013


I'm less than sympathetic to this guy.

He illegally wiretapped people, then lied to the FBI about it.


Maybe he should run for office.
posted by ODiV at 9:22 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fruit and even a protein once a week!

It's basically vacation.


Compared to a state pen? Yes, it damn sure IS a vacation.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:25 PM on May 28, 2013


McT gets jail but Roman Polanski doesn't?

Anyway the idea of jail terrifies me, as does the idea of ending up there wrongfully imprisoned. I feel like the US (and other governments) impose long prison sentences for virtually no reason at all. Even in the case of a capital crimes - a 16 year old recently got life in prison. How is that fair?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:28 PM on May 28, 2013


I can't shake the thought that this is payback for the FBI's portrayal in Die Hard.
posted by einexile at 10:29 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


rollbiz: "The FBI conducts all interviews with two agents. One actually conducts the interview, and the second takes copious notes on the interview and on your responses."

Anecdote: The one and only time I've spoken to the FBI there was only one agent and he took his own notes.
posted by deborah at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


BitterOldPunk: "When the sign reads DON'T POKE THE BEAR, then don't poke the fucking bear."

I'm mostly with you on this, I guess, with the caveat that if we ever get the chance to capture this useless, spoiled, good-for-nothing goddamned bear that keeps charging through the city square and killing people, I think we should take the opportunity and put it in a nice cage at the zoo, where we'll all visit it and laugh and show our children how awful things used to be when we let a fucking bear run around mauling innocent poor people. And if we have to tell them that the bear only got captured because it finally mauled a rich person, and that that was what it took to get people to do something about it, that will be relatively okay with me as long as everybody's finally safe from that stupid, stupid bear.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


McT gets jail but Roman Polanski doesn't?

Well, McTiernan didn't flee to France and stay outside of jurisdictional reach for decades. Something Polanski did because he believed showing up at his sentencing hearing was showing up for prison.

"We think he's guilty, but we can't prove it. So let's just get him thrown in jail on some bullshit charge we just made up on the flimsiest evidence possible" is not a reasonable way for prosecutors to behave.

Oh, Lordy, the prejudices bundled into this are ridiculous. Lying to the FBI about your involvement in illegal wiretapping is not something I would consider a "bullshit charge", and prosecutions are, or should be, by necessity and moral imperative limited to the things you can prove. The fact they didn't charge him for something they couldn't prove does not constitute prima facie evidence that they "just made up" the other thing they could prove. It's actually sort of nonsensical.

They got Capone on undeclared income to the IRS. Does that mean he wasn't, actually, a mobster?
posted by dhartung at 1:03 AM on May 29, 2013


We've put Al Capone away in 1932, dhartung. Yet, we've continued inventing draconian charges ever since, especially over the last 30 years during which time white collar crime has caused major social problems without any real prosecutions.

Law enforcement is the only area of discretionary spending that grew relative to GDP since 1972, contributing roughly 12% to the federal budget growth relative to GDP. We're pumping money into bureaucrat cops and their contractor friend's pockets, sending them on bullshit errands like this, or worse prosecuting innocent drug users, all while they ignore the real financial criminals who actually cause social problems.

American law enforcement is a major gang-like criminal racket that needs to be serious reformed, beginning with an epic budget cut back to 1960s levels, pardoning of all non-violent drug offenders, and a refocusing on financial crimes involving billions rather than petty shit.

Really, the FBI has always been a purely political bullshit agency. Hoover initially tasked the agency with finding stollen cars because they usually turn up anyways, giving them good numbers. The ATF and DEA only exist because they FBI refused to do anything hard. etc.

Is wire tapping, wrong? Yes. It's not necessarily any worse than what web advertisers do though, depends what really happened, but yes it's wrong. Should he go to jail? Imho, fines should suffice, well sounds like his lawyer bills already took him from rich to upper-middle class.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:19 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anecdote: The one and only time I've spoken to the FBI there was only one agent and he took his own notes.

Counter-anecdote: The one and only time that I spoke to the FBI, which predated both my current job and my activism in general, the setup was with two agents and was otherwise exactly as I described.

I answered questions about someone who left Iraq when he was three as the son of a diplomat, and never even remembered being there, and it was very stupid and very pointless.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't subject myself to such questionining.
posted by rollbiz at 2:51 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Says the guy who was booted for Harrison Ford. Nice that you stick up for him, Baldwin, but he shoulda held out for you.
posted by tilde at 8:16 PM on May 28 [+] [!]
Except that McTiernan didn't have anything to do with the Jack Ryan movies that starred Harrison Ford, so I'm not sure what he should have done about that...
posted by McCoy Pauley at 10:38 PM on May 28 [+] [!]


Good point, tap the right phones and make sure it's Baldwin/McT/Ryan 4EVAH?

But the FBI got a nice shiny conviction of someone who was smart enough to perjure himself/lie and get caught, so they're now freed up to get some of those blatant bank execs now!!1!
posted by tilde at 3:05 AM on May 29, 2013


After Martha Stewart's federal conviction, anyone who speaks to a cop without their lawyer just hasn't been paying attention.
posted by mikelieman at 5:19 AM on May 29, 2013


So, yet again, we're supposed to be outraged and sympathetic when a privileged white person suffers from prosecutorial abuses when we haven't been paying attention to the fact that this has been happening every single day for many decades to mostly poor and/or minority defendants?

No.

Speaking of abuses, there was this post about non-white not privileged people once, long ago. Does this count as paying attention?

As Tomorrowful wrote, these sorts of stories don't, in fact, raise much awareness of the general problem.

Rather, I think they produce a net-negative because ultimately, absent regular stories about prosecutorial abuses against random poor drug-offender X, these unusual stories about privileged people reinforce the invisibility of all those people who account for the vast majority of those treated unfairly by the US's criminal justice system.


Sure, but the stories about abuse of non privileged people are out there. I see and read about them constantly. Stories about:
  • the top people in Wall Street not being prosecuted for their roles in the mortgage market scams, check.
  • stories about wrongly convicted people, privileged or not, white or not, check.
  • stories about the enormous amount of wealth in the hands of the privileged few while the poor and middle class come closer together for the last 20 years, check.
  • a television series, generally regarded as the best of all time, that shows how the system works against the underprivileged and exposes corruption and incompetence in many institutions, including the press, check.
posted by juiceCake at 5:58 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I answered questions about someone who left Iraq when he was three as the son of a diplomat, and never even remembered being there, and it was very stupid and very pointless.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't subject myself to such questionining.


I've done one or two interviews with FBI agents as part of background checks*, which were similarly pointless. "I have no idea who this person in a 200-seat class five years ago was." But knowing that I could be imprisoned if the agent takes incorrect notes and takes a dislike to me, I'm unlikely to do so again.

*At least that's what they said they were for, and the interview seemed to bear that out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:01 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


But the judge's opinion, which omitted, among other things, some quibbling bits such as the fact that one of the DA's was not only tied to Pellicano but had tried out for multiple McTiernan films and was not cast, was totally fair and balanced?

Not even McTiernan's PR team regards the auditions as fact. Per the press release, one of McTiernan's publicists merely says that Saunders had "probably" auditioned for two films. The use of the word "probably" helps buffer against successful libel suit.

Even if he had auditioned for a film or a film or two, it's a whole other gigantic leap of logic to claim that this entire years-long case had been triggered by a 15+ year grudge over a lost part.

But hey, that's how successful PR works: you just have to float the insinuations, and people begin to accept suppositions as fact and hypotheses as narrative. Saunders had acted and written before law school? Clearly, he's a failed actor, and not a successful prosecutor. His agent sent actors to some McTiernan auditions? Clearly, Saunders must have auditioned for those films, even though not even McTiernan's camp is willing to state that he did. Saunders was not actually in those McTiernan movies, which people would like you to believe that he had auditioned for? Clearly, Saunders must be bitter about it, and he must still be bitter about it, and clearly that's why he, as a single employee in the midst of a multi-agency investigation, must have triggered this whole thing.

(The publicist also asserts that McTiernan had been "entrapped", which shows that she does not understand what entrapment is.)

...

It's much more likely that law enforcement had wanted to get Pellicano for much more than they had got, but his well-monied former clients were closing ranks around him. So, they tried to make an example out of McTiernan, by getting him for lying to the FBI. They probably (ha!) hoped that he would, in response, run to the FBI and tell them all about the illegal services that Pellicano had offered. Well, he didn't do so, or he may have been unable to do so. They hadn't counted on him fighting the charge. McTiernan hadn't counted on losing.

Don't talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present. Don't lie to law enforcement. The fact that the conversation is over the phone is thoroughly irrelevant. Whether it takes one word to lie or fifty words to lie is also irrelevant.

...

Also: Anthony Pellicano represented himself in his criminal case? That's dumb.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:09 AM on May 29, 2013


Even if he had auditioned for a film or a film or two, it's a whole other gigantic leap of logic to claim that this entire years-long case had been triggered by a 15+ year grudge over a lost part.

There are people I interacted with 15+ years ago that I haven't thought of since and would gleefully tell to go fuck themselves if they popped up asking for my professional assistance in something. It's not at all outside the realm of possibility that Saunders was at least a little motivated not to pull any punches on McTiernan based on a grudge that he hadn't thought of since the 1980s.

I don't think it did happen that way (especially given that no one has ever been able to put them in the same building, much less the same room), but I don't think it's a gigantic leap of logic.
posted by Etrigan at 6:35 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dark Messiah: "Last Action Hero was a lot of fun.

"GHAAAAA!!! WHAT DO YOU MEAN I RUN OUT OF BULLETS!?" Worth it for that and the supermodels working at Blockbuster.
"

And this is one of the reasons it is in my "Random Movie Night Collection."
posted by Samizdata at 6:44 AM on May 29, 2013


these unusual stories about privileged people reinforce the invisibility of all those people who account for the vast majority of those treated unfairly by the US's criminal justice system.

By all means, tell those usual stories about invisible people. Just don't expect the privileged folks to pay attention or care. That's sort of the point of privilege. They don't care because they don't have to. Give them something to relate to, and you might just alter their perspective.
posted by snottydick at 6:57 AM on May 29, 2013


The archives of Prison Talk-- especially the federal prison and "Headed to Prison" forums are full of stories much like this by people who had the FBI call or drop by and actually thought it was funny at first. I am sure there is a great deal of variance in the seriousness of what these people had done. But reading enough of these will keep a suggestible person up late at night reviewing their interactions in case any of them might lead to a visit from the feds.

A lot of the people telling these stories-- and people facing drug conspiracy charges-- do seem to exude a sense of "I'm middle class; how can this be happening to me?" They don't come from a world where being thrown in prison happens a lot. So they don't have the sense of alarm that they should when law enforcement comes calling. But even if you do, it is easy to slip up and they do a good job of making you think you can say the magic words to make them go away.
posted by BibiRose at 7:21 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone should get a free pass for having talent. (See also: Roman Polanski, Jimmy Saville and such.) Granted, their crimes are orders of magnitude more grievious, but it's the principle that counts. Being a brilliant artist, curing cancer forever or solving the Middle East problem shouldn't entitle you to so much as double-park your SUV without the same consequences any other regular joe would suffer. (Also, these consequences should be scaled to the individual as appropriate, in the way that in Finland, traffic fines are a proportion of the offender's income, but that's another subject.)
posted by acb at 7:50 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ivan Fyodorovich: So, yet again, we're supposed to be outraged and sympathetic when a privileged white person suffers from prosecutorial abuses when we haven't been paying attention to the fact that this has been happening every single day for many decades to mostly poor and/or minority defendants?
Yes, because injustice is wrong, even when it happens to people you enjoy stereotyping as oppressors.

Well, yes, until you threw in this egregiously false insult:
when we haven't been paying attention to the fact that this has been happening every single day for many decades to mostly poor and/or minority defendants?
I present the entirety of Metafilter previous to this post as proof we have been paying attention.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:56 PM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Well, yes, until you threw in this egregiously false insult..."

It's revealing that while I used the pronoun "we", which includes myself, you interpreted that to simultaneously mean that I was "insulting" you personally and/or all of MetaFilter, even though obviously some of us do pay attention to these issues, but if I was insulting you then I was insulting myself, yet you somehow managed to read what I wrote as if I were exempting myself and personally including you. That's a heroic effort at taking offense.

Or, alternatively, you could have read "we" as meaning "Americans" and my criticism as applying to "American media culture".

"...even when it happens to people you enjoy stereotyping as oppressors."

...which is really what your complaint is all about.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:47 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


rollbiz: "Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't subject myself to such questionining."

I was questioned about a mortgage loan that I had minimal knowledge of. I was in my very early twenties and naive about such things. I wouldn't say anything now.
posted by deborah at 3:55 PM on May 29, 2013


[Comment removed - please read the words under the box before you hit Post Comment.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:53 PM on May 29, 2013


Lying to the FBI about your involvement in illegal wiretapping is not something I would consider a "bullshit charge"

Given the amount of wiretapping the FBI engages in on a daily basis, I think them investigating someone else for doing it is kind of like the Mob "investigating" a guy for going over to the competition.
posted by corb at 4:51 AM on May 30, 2013


Ivan Fyodorovich: Or, alternatively, you could have read "we" as meaning "Americans" and my criticism as applying to "American media culture".
I could have read all sorts of things into your post, but I chose to read what you wrote. Maybe you should try being clearer.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:04 AM on May 30, 2013


[Take it to MeMail folks.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:05 AM on May 30, 2013


"I'm terribly sorry, my lawyer told me I can't say anything to you without her here!"
Is it a lie if my lawyer never said this? Or if I've never consulted a lawyer? Also, there are situations where you can't decline to answer questions posed by a federal officer. Crossing a border, for example. Additionally, I'm not entirely sure that constitutional protections apply to un-Americans, ie, visitors.
posted by Jode at 6:03 PM on May 31, 2013


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