Deepwater Horizon - The Unquenchable Expectations of the Politics of Envy

Bruce Thompson

On Monday February 25 the civil phase of the Deepwater Horizon trial is set to begin. There will be a contest between those who want justice and those who want revenge, the "lynch mob." As one might guess, the federal government under Obama has been feeding the expectations of the mob. With his lapdog media allies trying to buy the affection of the masses in the face of declining circulation egging him on, expectations are sky high.

The hometown newspaper, The New Orleans Times Picayune's editorial board, has written an editorial outlining the demands of the mob.

The bottom line is simple: BP should pay the highest penalties possible to undo the grievous damage it has done.

Those demands will not be met. Note that the board does not call for the highest, just, reasonable fines; they call for the highest possible fines. This in a city noted for political corruption! Maybe, the members of the board are just plain ignorant. But the term "lazy" does come to mind. Let us de-construct their editorial. They write

The federal government's most conclusive report on the Deepwater Horizon explosion -- which left 11 men dead -- found that BP's failure to assess the risks of its Macondo well and the company's drive to cut corners at the expense of safety were the main causes.

Significantly, the Joint Investigation Team of the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the Coast Guard was the only non-criminal probe of the disaster with subpoena power. That allowed investigators to question, under oath, a large number of witnesses -- many in public hearings conducted in Kenner -- and to have access to extensive records from the companies involved.

Members of the joint investigative team clearly believed that BP personnel sacrificed safety in order to save time and money at the company's Macondo well. The group's September 2011 report noted that at the time of the blowout, the project to drill Macondo was behind schedule and $58 million over budget. The document included a chart keying on seven critical decisions in the design of the well and the drilling process -- all made by BP managers.

BP also has a history of safety problems at other operations. The company pleaded guilty to felony violations of the Clean Air Act and paid a $50 million fine following a 2005 explosion at the company's Texas City refinery. Fifteen people were killed in that incident and 180 were injured.

Yes indeed the JIT investigation was the only one wherein the accused got a chance to be represented by counsel while under questioning by federal investigators. But doesn't the Constitution guarantee the accused a chance to cross-examine? Where is the examination of the government's role?

The Administration's war on the offshore oil industry was given a veneer of probity by the formation of the President's Oil Spill Commission, which held public hearings under the leadership of the Commission's Chief Counsel, Fred Bartlit Jr.  The Co-Chairmen of the Commission, former Sen. Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, even testified about the findings of the commission before Congress. They published a glossy Final Report blaming many people, even a few discarded government officials.

What the co-Chairmen failed to do is truthfully answer the questions presented to them by members of the House Natural Resources Committee as a follow up to their testimony, under oath! They had mentioned that their chief counsel would be issuing a report subsequent to their testimony, but when asked questions about issues covered in the Chief Counsel's Report , they "misspoke." The Chief Counsel himself may be factually in error, but at least he made the substance of his knowledge available to the defense as a part of the discovery process. The Co-Chairmen did not make their knowledge known to the Congress. Covering up exculpatory evidence is a crime. The Co-Chairmen may soon find themselves being charged with the same crime alleged to have been committed by BP's VP of Exploration for the Gulf David Rainey, to wit; "concealing information from Congress."

There are multiple examples of this, but one clear one was the failure to advise the congressmen about an observation that the judge presiding over the JIT hearings, Retired Federal Judge Wayne Andersen had regarding the testimony of both BP and Halliburton engineers about the number of centralizers and the potential need for a "squeeze job". Those with a technical bent can read the details in my blog post, Deepwater Horizon - Six Centralizers Were Enough. Look for the President's Co-Chairmen to face some informed questioning, under oath, before Congress quite soon.

So what do our federal courts believe in, The Rule of Law or lynch mobs?  The trial will answer that question. Tune in Monday.

Bruce Thompson

On Monday February 25 the civil phase of the Deepwater Horizon trial is set to begin. There will be a contest between those who want justice and those who want revenge, the "lynch mob." As one might guess, the federal government under Obama has been feeding the expectations of the mob. With his lapdog media allies trying to buy the affection of the masses in the face of declining circulation egging him on, expectations are sky high.

The hometown newspaper, The New Orleans Times Picayune's editorial board, has written an editorial outlining the demands of the mob.

The bottom line is simple: BP should pay the highest penalties possible to undo the grievous damage it has done.

Those demands will not be met. Note that the board does not call for the highest, just, reasonable fines; they call for the highest possible fines. This in a city noted for political corruption! Maybe, the members of the board are just plain ignorant. But the term "lazy" does come to mind. Let us de-construct their editorial. They write

The federal government's most conclusive report on the Deepwater Horizon explosion -- which left 11 men dead -- found that BP's failure to assess the risks of its Macondo well and the company's drive to cut corners at the expense of safety were the main causes.

Significantly, the Joint Investigation Team of the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the Coast Guard was the only non-criminal probe of the disaster with subpoena power. That allowed investigators to question, under oath, a large number of witnesses -- many in public hearings conducted in Kenner -- and to have access to extensive records from the companies involved.

Members of the joint investigative team clearly believed that BP personnel sacrificed safety in order to save time and money at the company's Macondo well. The group's September 2011 report noted that at the time of the blowout, the project to drill Macondo was behind schedule and $58 million over budget. The document included a chart keying on seven critical decisions in the design of the well and the drilling process -- all made by BP managers.

BP also has a history of safety problems at other operations. The company pleaded guilty to felony violations of the Clean Air Act and paid a $50 million fine following a 2005 explosion at the company's Texas City refinery. Fifteen people were killed in that incident and 180 were injured.

Yes indeed the JIT investigation was the only one wherein the accused got a chance to be represented by counsel while under questioning by federal investigators. But doesn't the Constitution guarantee the accused a chance to cross-examine? Where is the examination of the government's role?

The Administration's war on the offshore oil industry was given a veneer of probity by the formation of the President's Oil Spill Commission, which held public hearings under the leadership of the Commission's Chief Counsel, Fred Bartlit Jr.  The Co-Chairmen of the Commission, former Sen. Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, even testified about the findings of the commission before Congress. They published a glossy Final Report blaming many people, even a few discarded government officials.

What the co-Chairmen failed to do is truthfully answer the questions presented to them by members of the House Natural Resources Committee as a follow up to their testimony, under oath! They had mentioned that their chief counsel would be issuing a report subsequent to their testimony, but when asked questions about issues covered in the Chief Counsel's Report , they "misspoke." The Chief Counsel himself may be factually in error, but at least he made the substance of his knowledge available to the defense as a part of the discovery process. The Co-Chairmen did not make their knowledge known to the Congress. Covering up exculpatory evidence is a crime. The Co-Chairmen may soon find themselves being charged with the same crime alleged to have been committed by BP's VP of Exploration for the Gulf David Rainey, to wit; "concealing information from Congress."

There are multiple examples of this, but one clear one was the failure to advise the congressmen about an observation that the judge presiding over the JIT hearings, Retired Federal Judge Wayne Andersen had regarding the testimony of both BP and Halliburton engineers about the number of centralizers and the potential need for a "squeeze job". Those with a technical bent can read the details in my blog post, Deepwater Horizon - Six Centralizers Were Enough. Look for the President's Co-Chairmen to face some informed questioning, under oath, before Congress quite soon.

So what do our federal courts believe in, The Rule of Law or lynch mobs?  The trial will answer that question. Tune in Monday.

Bruce Thompson