Obama Stonewalling Gulf Oil Spill Disclosure

The Obama administration is desperately trying to avoid coming clean about its role in delaying capping the Gulf Oil Spill.  Billions of dollars in fines are at stake, so BP is fighting in court to force release of correspondence related to handling the Gulf Oil Spill which might indicate that the federal government unnecessarily and substantially delayed the use of technology that was ultimately proven successful.

Rebecca Mowbray of the New Orleans Times-Picayune has the details of the battle underway in a New Orleans federal court:

In a letter filed in federal court Tuesday, the U.S. government charges that if BP is successful at forcing the release of 21 pieces of correspondence about responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it will harm future disaster response efforts because public officials won't be able to confer frankly about the challenges before them. U.S. Department of Justice attorney Sarah Himmelhoch told Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan that the U.S. government has produced millions of documents in the litigation, and only wants to keep 119 documents confidential, but BP continues to try to force the government to disclose 21 of them. The documents involve communications between top Obama Administration officials in the White House, Department of Energy, Department of Interior and Department of Homeland Security.

We can reasonably infer that the authors of those 21 documents may include President Barack Obama, his then-chief of Staff Rahm "Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste" Emanuel, and Energy and Climate Change Czarina Carol "Midnight Moratorium" Browner from the White House, not to mention Energy Secretary Steven "Solyndra" Chu, Interior Secretary Ken "Boot on Their Neck" Salazar, and Admiral Thad "An Overabundance of Caution" Allen of Homeland Security's United States Coast Guard.  All of them had a lot to say and or do publicly during the oil spill containment operations.  Now it seems that BP wants to let the American public know about what its people were doing in private as they commanded BP's operations.  BP knows what its employees did in private, as it was on the receiving end of those orders.  They now want to share the details of those orders with the general public.  The response of the Obama administration is positively Nixonian, revisiting the claims of executive privilege once espoused by Richard Nixon during the debate regarding the release of the Watergate tapes.  Can it be that the people voted for "hope and change" and got the Ghost of Richard Nixon?

"To order the release of the 21 documents at this point sends the message that there is no protected space for government workers and decision makers in the midst of a national emergency," the letter reads.

And so the two sides presented their respective arguments in federal court.

BP says it may need the documents to defend itself against the government's lawsuit and potential fines. The documents in question include Department of Energy "issuance guidance and directives to BP," "the commencement or termination of specific response actions," and whether various efforts to shut down the well were "appropriate spill containment measures."

The government says that BP's argument misses the context of the litigation. The U.S. government is required to oversee the response to disasters, and needed to take a more active role because BP couldn't shut down the well. The government is also compelled to enforce environmental laws.

Could BP be trying to get documentation confirming the New York Times story that reported that Secretary Chu prematurely aborted the "top kill" operation that began on May 26, 2010?  On that very day, President Obama was away giving a speech about green energy at a promising solar energy start-up in Fremont California named Solyndra.  The NYT story states:

BP executives, however, wanted to proceed, the engineer said, in part to learn more about the condition of the well bore, and in part because they were eager to demonstrate that they could actually stop the flow of oil.

They "could actually stop the flow of oil"?  In May 2010?  How's that for "Hope" for the weary residents of the Gulf Coast?  And what was Secretary Chu's grade-inflated analysis of this own performance?

Dr. Chu said he did not believe that he and his team had made any serious miscalculations in the nearly three months of trying to corral the renegade well, but like everyone involved in the catastrophe, they had been learning as they went along, under intense scrutiny and pressure.

"I don't want to dwell on 'coulda, shoulda, woulda,'" he said. "There's nothing I can really point to that we shouldn't have done based on what we knew at the time." [SNIP]

In an interview Thursday, Dr. Chu said that if he had understood geology and well technology better in the early days after the April 20 blowout, he might have urged a faster attempt at the top kill, which involved shooting mud and other gunk to clog up the damaged blowout preventer atop the gushing well. The delay, he said, might have allowed pressure to increase in the well, rendering the attempt fruitless when it was tried at the end of May.

Isn't "coulda, shoulda, woulda" also known as lessons learned?  And isn't one of the most important lessons learned to not let the secretary of energy overrule the world's leading experts regarding the timing of an attempt to begin a subsea well intervention that could have stopped the flow of oil in May 2010?

One of the most exasperating facets of the efforts to control the spill is the fact that we were discussing beginning the top kill right here on The American Thinker on May 7, 2010.

Bruce Thompson was a volunteer to the effort to control the oil spill.  You may read a bit more about him on his blog.