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Friday, July 02, 2010

BP and GOP Attempting History's Largest Cover-Up

The oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico is bad. Really bad. Mile after mile after mile of bad. This bad:

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Given the sheer size and scope of the disaster, it seems impossible that someone would even consider hiding it. Yet that seems to be what BP has in mind. Out of sight, out of mind. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that the company that caused the catastrophe by cutting corners in building Deepwater Horizon would also try to cut corners in cleaning it up. BP's attempts to keep the worst of the spill off the front page have been well-documented -- they turn reporters away, while sending their own "journalists" out to cover the story.

According to a whistleblower who spoke to CNN, BP is using dispersant not to mitigate the disaster, but to hide its magnitude.


In a shocking interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on June 29th, Allegiance Capitol Corporation V.P. Fred McCallister said that BP is deliberately sinking oil with the toxic chemical disbursant [sic] Corexit, to hide the size of the oil spill. By sinking the oil before it can be collected, BP won't have to pay fines on it.

McCallister said, "Everybody in Europe, where the standard practice is to raise the oil and collect it, is scratching their heads, and quite honestly laughing at what's happening in the Gulf." He added, "Everyone is looking at us and wondering why we're allowing this to happen."

This is one of my suspicions confirmed. Using dispersant never seemed to make sense to me. I could see using it near the well, where it would clear the water and improve visibility, but using it elsewhere just made no sense to me. It's not like dispersant makes the oil "go away."

And this isn't the only way BP is trying to cover up the damage and hide the oil. They seem to be trying (and thankfully, failing) to literally bury the story under tons of sand.

"BP is trucking in sand to cover up the oil," writes Shannyn Moore. "Let me repeat that -- instead of cleaning up the oil they are just bringing in sand from other beaches and covering it up. In the photos and the video you can see the layering of Grand Isle, LA sand, oil and then a sand of a different type. Photo-journalists have four independent confirmations by local Sheriff's in Grand Isle, Louisiana."

If BP needs help in covering all this up -- and it's clear they do, because it turns out the inept are unsurprisingly incompetent when it comes to hiding their ineptitude -- they don't have to look far. The Republican Party, eager to portray President Obama as an executive more bumbling than George W. Bush, is ready to pitch in on the effort. Want cover up everything? That's easy. Just say everything is Barack Obama's fault.

McClatchy Newspapers:

From former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Arizona Sen. John McCain to junior members of the House of Representatives, conservative Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of failing to do all he can to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill because he hasn't waived a U.S. maritime law called the Jones Act.

That statute, established in 1920, requires that all goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built and U.S.-owned ships crewed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Critics say that's needlessly excluded foreign-flagged vessels that could have helped.

"It's a little shocking to me that a president that has such a multinational orientation as this president didn't immediately see the benefits of waiving the Jones Act and allowing all of these resources to come in," former House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, said in remarks to, a conservative website.

"Totally not true," Mark Ruge, counsel to the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a coalition of U.S. shipbuilders, operators and labor unions, told McClatchy. "It is simply an urban myth that the Jones Act is the problem." Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says he's received no requests for Jones Act waivers -- because none are necessary in this case.

"If the vessels are operating outside state waters, which is three miles and beyond, they don't require a waiver," Allen says.

But the Jones Act lie as become the official stance of the Republican Party. In an act of political theater, the GOP will release a partisan "report," written by the unfortunate Rep. Darrell Issa, that claims, "According to local officials, the decision to not waive the Jones Act has impaired Gulf Coast clean-up efforts. The most likely application of a broad-based Jones Act waiver would be for the operation of boats equipped with skimmers, which is one of the most effective tools to clean up the oil. Rear Admiral Jim Watson conceded in a briefing to Chairman Towns and Ranking Member Issa that the Coast Guard does not currently have access to a sufficient numbers of skimmers."

Of course, these are Republicans we're talking about here. Lying is just part of the game for them. And Issa has a raging woody for impeaching Barack Obama -- again, lying is no impediment to this plan. In fact, it's necessary to it. Obama has broken no laws, so Issa has to make up crimes. He's been approaching the problem through a laughable attempt to trump up offering Joe Sestak an unpaid position into a crime, but that really doesn't seem to have any legs at all. If his big "Sestak affair" won't get the job done, maybe his "Jones Act affair" will. The point isn't to remove the president from office -- although I'm sure he wouldn't mind it -- the point is to tarnish Obama's boy scout image in time for the 2012 presidential elections. Speaking to Pennsylvania Republicans last month, Issa told them he'd use subpoena power to harass the White House and let corporations off the hook if Republicans gain control of the House in November.

"That will make all the difference in the world," he said. "I won't use it to have corporate America live in fear that we're going to subpoena everything. I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing."

And if inventing an Obama crime means helping BP cover up an actual crime, then cover-up it is. Because, let's face it, lying and protecting corporate interests are just what Republicans do.


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