Oval Office Duplicity: Cover for Corporate Criminality – by Stephen Lendman
Since taking office, Obama proved himself a machine politician, not a man of the people, an earlier article explaining it this way:
He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands – let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.
At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides being free to operate recklessly in a regulatory-free environment. Little wonder that a disaster now threatens to become the greatest ecological one ever, gushing oil that’s potentially unstoppably from multiple sea floor ruptures, worsened apparently by BP fix attempts done as PR stunts, the company and administration knowing they wouldn’t work but used them anyway as a charade to fool the public.
In addition, for nearly two months, company officials:
— obstructed cleanup efforts and hasn’t provided proper equipment to do it;
— suppressed vital information;
— told cleanup workers they’d be fired if spoke to the media;
— lied from day one about what happened and its severity;
— denied adequate compensation to Gulf victims;
— withheld respirators and other protective gear from cleanup workers, many now ill from flu-like symptoms, including severe headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, chest pains, and trouble breathing that may persist, become worse and for many be long-lasting or permanent;
— ordered workers showing up with respirators and other protective gear to remove it or be fired; and
— on June 17, BP CEO Tony Haywood stonewalled the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation by refusing to provide information he knows as chief operating officer.
Yet BP got White House, cabinet, and congressional backing from the start, collaborating in a likely trillion or multi-trillion dollar crime, affecting the entire regional economy as well as the lives, health and welfare of tens of thousands of its residents, on their own and out of luck, like millions of others nationwide facing enormous hardships from job losses, home foreclosures, growing poverty, hunger, and unaffordable illnesses because of Washington’s indifference during the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
One of Many Disturbing Views
On June 12, theOilDrum.com assessed the crisis as follows:
“First of all….set aside all your thoughts of plugging the well and stopping it from blowing out oil using any method from the top down. Plugs, big valves to just shut it off, pinching the pipe closed, installing a new (blowout protector) or (lower marine riser package), shooting any epoxy in it, top kills with mud etc etc etc….forget that, it won’t be happening….In fact, (it) actually open(s) up the well at the subsea source and allow(s) it to gush more.”
“It’s really an inescapable conclusion at this point (based on expert oil and gas professional opinions) that “The well bore structure is compromised ‘Down hole.’ That is something which is a ‘Worst nightmare’ conclusion to reach….It means they will never cap the gusher (at) the wellhead. They cannot (and) the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the top, the more it will transfer to the leaks below.”
“The down hole leak will undermine the foundation of the seabed in and around the well area. (In fact), we are beginning to (see) the well’s total integrity beginning to fail….I am convinced (that) the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well.” After enough damage is done, “the casing will buckle and the (blowout preventer) will collapse the well.”
BP and Washington know it but conceal it from the public and residents most affected.
At some point, “the worst things you can think of” will happen. “The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail….the least damaging outcome (being) that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more.”
The longer the oil gushes, the worse things will get, and in the end every fix tried will fail, including relief wells to relieve pressure. At that point, “the system will collapse or fail substantially….and the worst is yet to come,” increasing the magnitude of the disaster “exponentially.”
Response from The New York Times
The paper of record largely supported Obama’s address, including his supposed humbling BP with a $20 billion escrow fund for claims, saying in an editorial headlined, “From the Oval Office” that:
“Americans have been anxiously waiting for President Obama to take full charge of the gulf oil catastrophe,” and he did by “vow(ing) to ‘fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes’ and declared that ‘we will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused.’ “
Agreeing that follow through is essential “with more energy and dedication than they have shown so far,” and that his speech “was short on specifics and devoid of self-criticism,” The Times was hopeful that “Obama was right when he predicted that in ‘coming weeks and days,’ up to 90 per cent of the oil leaking….will be captured and the well finally capped by this summer” – a virtual impossibility for either to happen, something the “newspaper of record” should know and report.
The Times also endorsed the Senate’s “long-stalled comprehensive energy and climate bill, a necessary first step to reducing this country’s dependence on fossil fuels and tackling the problem of global warming,” when, in fact, it’s a scheme to raise energy prices and create a huge new bubble through carbon trading derivatives speculation, and has nothing to do with the environment except increase pollution.
Yet the editorial says “Time is quickly running out for Congress to act before the midterm elections. There is no chance at all (for passage) unless Mr. Obama takes full charge of that fight as well,” typical irresponsible misinformation, backing powerful corporate interests, a longstanding Times tradition, why nothing it reports can be believed in editorials or news coverage, why most of what it publishes isn’t “fit to print” or read, for sure not believe.
Gulf Gas Bubble Danger Alert
On June 14, author Richard C. Hoagland, citing insider BP and US government sources, told the BBC that “a gas bubble approximately 15 – 20 miles across 10+ feet high near (BP’s) well head….had formed that that it may cause a massive explosion within weeks or months.”
He said the pressure is enormous, around 100,000 pounds per square inch, so if it happens it will be an underwater volcanic eruption, creating a huge tsunami, traveling at 400 – 600 miles per hour, sinking all vessels in its path, besides causing vast shoreline damage and deaths, driving up oil prices, and spreading hazardous dispersants and gasses well inland.
Florida, he believes, will be hardest hit, but the entire region will be affected. A mass evacuation will be ordered, affecting about 40 million people, what Jane Burgermeister reported on her birdflu.666 site, saying under “martial law:”
“The US military is preparing to ‘evacuate’ 40 million people in the (Gulf) region….under the pretext of toxicity, according to sources,” taking them to “notorious FEMA camps, built around the country and resembling concentration camps or prisons….”
Citing sources she calls reliable, she adds that “if the seabed is fractured, then all gulf drilling will be suspended (and) will force the price of energy and gas to double worldwide within a few months.” Only time will confirm if true, but already the situation is grim, with nothing in prospect for improvement, according to some reliable oil experts.
In readiness, Hoagland said the Coast Guard is calling up former officers and seamen, “offering enticements to come back into service quickly,” and that “measurements at Venice and (New Iberia), LA are (already) showing health endangering levels of toxic hydrogen sulfides and benzene gasses.” He believes evacuation will likely come or millions may die or suffer severe health consequences, because of toxicity in large amounts being emitted.
Again, whether or not true remains to be seen, but better to know the possibilities (even if exaggerated or proved false) than remain uninformed and unprepared for the worst. Under the best case scenario, this is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe, criminally covered up by Washington and BP.
Oval Office Cover and Capitulation to Corporate Predation
Obama’s June 15 address was disingenuous, shameless, hypocritical and supportive of Big Oil interests, much like his backing for the Israeli Lobby, Wall Street bandits, Big Pharma, the insurance lobby, auto giants, agribusiness, defense contractors, and other corporate favorites, while endorsing big cuts in vital public benefits and services to show fiscal restraint.
Playing front man for BP, he didn’t explain the cause or severity of the crisis in terms of its effects on the economy, ecosystem, and lives, welfare and health of Gulf state residents. Nor did he demand accountability for perhaps the greatest ever environmental crime, as a result of government-corporate complicity that neither this or any other disaster will change, and unless it does, profits will always supersede public welfare and ecological safety, externalities indifferently sacrificed without concern, no matter how severe. Obama, of course, is a front man for a human and environmentally destructive system, his pious rhetoric and brave face a shameless lie.
To a nationwide audience, he said nothing about regulatory laxity, BP’s disregard for worker safety, its shoddy history of dangerous practices, the disrepair of its equipment by cutting corners on maintenance and proper controls, years of manager warnings to top officials ignored about safety concerns risking serious accidents, employees pressured to be silent, say nothing, or be fired, and the company’s single-minded pursuit of bottom-line issues, everything else be damned – to such an extreme that it got former EPA debarment attorney, Jeanne Pascal, to say after investigating company practices:
“They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow US health safety and environmental policy. At what point are we going to say we are not going to do business with you any more, bye? None of the other supermajors have an environmental criminal record like they do.”
So why did Obama provide BP cover from day one, and in his 18 minute nationwide address? Why hasn’t he held a corporate scofflaw accountable, run the cleanup from the start, demand BP provide full information on the problem and cooperate with Washington in charge or face criminal prosecution, huge fines, and nationalization? Why hasn’t the public been fully informed? Why do the administration, its officials, the Congress and Coast Guard work for BP instead of the other way around?
Why has he unquestioningly accepted all BP pronouncements on faith, including deliberately falsifying gush estimates – first, 1,000 barrels a day, then 5,000, then 25,000 – 40,000, and now 30,000 – 60,000 when reliable evaluations are double these numbers or higher and explain a problem that may turn the entire gulf and beyond into dead zones, as well as contaminate the entire Atlantic coast and waters well beyond?
Why hasn’t he explained Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen’s offhand comment that most oil isn’t flowing up BP’s pipe but is “in communication” with the sea floor and surrounding formations, meaning it’s gushing from multiple ruptures, perhaps more to come because of the enormous pressure eroding the well’s walls? Why hasn’t he announced that perhaps nothing can stop them short of technologies that don’t exist, other than perhaps a nuclear option that might fail and magnify the problem as well as irradiate the Gulf and regional shorelines?
Why did he said nothing about noxious air and toxic rain if one or more hurricanes hit the Gulf? Why isn’t he warning residents and providing help in case of the worst? Why doesn’t he use the military for cleanup, restoration and other aid, and bring home US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan to do it?
Why does he repeat BP’s lies, censor the media, conspire to destroy evidence, and keep the public in the dark when they have every right to know anytime, let alone when there’s an unprecedented disaster affecting this and other nations?
Why hasn’t his Justice Department indicted BP officials, ordered their arrest, and imprisoned them where they belong? Why did he deliver shameless boilerplate to a nationwide TV audience, instead of a detailed action plan, with facts and hard numbers, including seizing BP’s assets, mandating all be used to cover recovery and restoration costs, even if it bankrupts the company? Why hasn’t BP, and perhaps the entire industry been nationalized – one responsible for global environmental disasters, mostly where victims aren’t compensated and get shot if they complain?
After a choreographed White House meeting with top BP officials, why did he let them off easy with a bogus $20 billion escrow fund, amounting to two quarters of dividends, affecting only company shareholders, that’s way less than needed to compensate affected residents, who’ll be trashed in deference to Big Oil interests? Why did he appoint Kenneth Feinberg as overseer, a notorious Washington fixer who’ll protect BP and the administration, not affected Gulf residents?
Why didn’t he announce a complete halt to offshore drilling, especially in dangerous deep waters? Why didn’t he (belatedly) order immediate environmental impact studies on all current and future drilling operations as well as mandated safety regulations, placing worker and ecological issues above bottom line ones?
Why isn’t he our president, instead of BP’s front man, stooge, shill, willing agent, betrayer of the public trust, like he’s been in all ways since taking office? When will the public realize they’ve been fooled again, scammed, betrayed, Obama no different from the rest, and, in fact, worse, by fiddling, lying, obfuscating, and concealing the truth while America and other nations face a potentially catastrophic disaster? When will they understand that only grassroots activism brings change when it’s determined enough to demand nothing less – and what better time to try than now?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.