This week concluded the presidential commission hearings on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The Oil Spill Commission will meet once more for final deliberation in early December before going behind closed doors to craft its report on the worst oil spill in the history of the United States.  No small task.  But a task made that much more challenging by the fact that the entity has been denied subpoena power.

During the course of the two day hearing held in Washington, D.C., the commission’s chief counsel, Fred Bartlit regularly highlighted the data gaps that subpoena power could have helped fill in.

Chief counsel Bartlit’s plea – “Subpoena, that’s damn important” – pointed in part to the possibility that the spill commission may never resolve a fundamental question: How a band of experienced roughnecks on a muddy drill floor missed critical warning signs and failed to control a rush of oil and gas that hit the rig with the force of a 550-ton freight train. But instead of testimony under oath to resolve fundamental questions, the commission has had to rely on the “full cooperation”  of the corporations involved in the rig explosion – BP, Transocean and Halliburton.

Why have these companies been munching on their carrots of cooperation, while ultimately avoiding the stick of “swearing the truth and nothing but the truth”?  Their republican beneficiaries  in the Senate have deemed subpoena power as just another vehicle for shakin’ down the oil industry.

Meanwhile the corporations involved in the sequence of events that let to the April 20th explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig have been working with the Commission and its counsel to deconstruct the event, unfortunately much of their role has been pointing the finger at the other guys.

The disputes between Transocean and BP and Halliburton as to who said what when, and who has the responsibility for that, this is where subpoena power would be helpful,” said Bartlit. “It’s hard to resolve that unless I can sit people down in a room and cross-examine them and find out what’s believable and not believable.”

Bartlit went so far as to ask the represents from the three companies whether or not they would be willing to press the Senate on granting the commission subpoena power – they weren’t empowered to respond at that time.

In the final analysis, the American public needs to know that all the facts were represented – not just to have faith in the set of recommendations prescribed by the Commission, but to avoid further demoralization of a populace already scathed by political posturing that puts party before progress.

Allison Fisher is the Outreach Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program

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  • Lloyd Cata

    America cannot afford Justice anymore. It has been sold already and the price is well above the means of most Americans.

    I have only sympathy for the children of the Gulf. Their parents have ‘elected’ leaders and ‘elected’ to remain ignorant amidst an ecological time-bomb that is the BP disaster. Of all the so-called responsible adults in the Gulf community, none are prepared to exact Justice for what has occurred or what will occur for their children.

    Make no mistake that there were lives lost, directly due to the greed and negligence of the perpetrators, and that is directly responsible for the lack of truth in this investigation. Of course, the lives yet to be lost will count for nothing, since the ‘crime’ will never be established.

    Indeed, BP will be asking for their money back, and the White House will be vilified, once again for trying to “shake down” such an outstanding corporate citizen. There are sadder tales in the annals of history, but few come with High-Def evidence and and a script to challenge both Shakespeare and Dickens.

  • Nancy Kenyon

    What’s with our United States Attorney General? Shouldn’t he be able to subpoena the three alleged guilty parties involved in the BP
    platform disaster ? I think as long as Dick Cheney is alive we will never know the truth. So, the Commission’s report will essentially be worthless.

    Hallibuton, especially, has ripped off our country financially in billions of dollars and our government is still providing them with contracts. What gives?

  • Michael Kirkby

    Bear with me because you have probably all heard this before. We are in the process of recreating the past from the years 1920 until the year 1943. Why should this BP disaster be surprising? It’s a land grab pure and simple.
    America was basically sold to the international financiers as of 1913. I suppose you could take it back to before the American Revolution if you wanted to since it was the British Virginia Trading Company that started the colonies. In 1913 and through the years of the Great Depression that Roosevelt managed to extend for ten years until he was able to involve the country in a war that most of the country didn’t want; America and every faction of its socio/economical strata has been sold to controlling international interests. We don’t elect our president of prime minister anymore although we are still allowed to entertain the sham.
    From the agricultural dust bowls of 1920; when the Central Banksters back east refused to provide assistance to those banks of the MidWest and SouthWest who refused to join the Central Banking system, called the FED; we have been sold as chattel. Ask the small farmer how tough it is to compete. There are family farms in Western Canada that have been sold to international investors from abroad. We could soon find out that we no longer own our respective countries; or at the very least the prime land rich with resources for example. It’s not a nice thing to have to hear and I certainly wasn’t pleased as I consider myself an intelligent man as you do yourselves.
    Money gainfully earned through your labor costs us a premium through tax. We are paying a parasitical entity for the privillege of working; all the while being paid in money that is fiat in nature and has no worth outside of credit/debit entry in a computerized spreadsheet. It is this same British entity that controls the elections; the financial policies; and has vested interests in companies such as BP. By the way, Globalization is nothing more than extreme Friedmanesque economics that Reagan introduced to almost bankrupt America, and which every President and Prime Minister has carried out in the escalating national rape of our respective countries and their resources and peoples. If you don’t believe me then where have all the manufacturing jobs gone? Organized Labor was a very helpful tool in eradicating the heart of America and Canada through exorbitant wage/benefit packets. Where else can you make $30.00 an hour for pushing a button than at Government Motors or some other unionized entity?
    You pay a hidden tax also on every service and product you buy. We in Canada have been paying these goods and services taxes in one form or another since WW2. We are becoming a debtor nation verging on societal collapse. Take a city like Toronto for example. It was designed to accomodate perhaps a million, a million and a half people at the most. We are now approaching four million people; many of who are immigrants [nothing wrong with that] and people wonder why every municipal facility and service in the city is strained to maximum capacity. Where do we get the money to repair the infrastructure let alone upgrades to basic, essential services? We already pay enough taxes so raising taxes again is not very popular. American cities are even in worse shape and this seems to be an escalating trend: Municipal bankruptcies which lead to National Receivership. Do we really want to end up like the EU containg PIGGY nations that will end up being controlled by the IMF?
    The Great Depression on the other hand allowed the international speculators and their American compatriots to basically engineer national bankruptcy, much as they are striving to accomplish today leading up to 12/2013 – date subject to change of course; to control their blue chips while waiting until it was fortuitous for them to buy up the best remaining companies and stocks for pennies on the dollar. Does that sound familiar with the sub-prime mortgage fiasco; it’s subsequent fiasco through real estate companies running a scam through back dating documents? Let’s not forget all the bailout money for Government Motors and other such companies; Wall Street and other financial goodies for banks that should have gone under or at the very least been brought up on criminal charges. It is the Great Depression so to speak. It’s just being carried out in a different way.
    Graduated income tax that you pay through the IRS goes not to the government but to the Fed. The Fed isn’t a bank; it’s a controlling entity that collects and prints money controlled by international entities. Ask JFK if you will what happens when you deprive the devil his due.
    This BP faction was possibly no accident at all. Whenever you can use a manmade or natural disaster to justify unleashing FEMA/MEHPA then you can extend the erosion of indivual rights and freedoms and you can exterminate the population if necessary. Katrina was just a test run. The BP disaster was caused by human negligence and BP will never be held accountable and neither will the American government. In fact the BP/Government conglomerate has squealched certain reports and threatened to silence anyone who disagrees with them. There is a report by a Russian scientist; it may still be available on the web, which states that the Gulf has at least sixteen serious cracks in its sea mantle. Two or three good earthquakes could very well change the entire face of the Gulf and the Mississippi area over time if it is true.
    Yes you can blame the workers on the rig if you want. However I have read reports that certain workers warned about the signs preceding the accident; of broken outer rings and other debris spewing to the surface. The fact of the matter is that the Gulf is either dead or in the last throes of demise. It’s not only the Gulf either; it’s also the Ponchartrain and the surrounding bayous, particularly those affecting the Ninth Ward of Orleans Parrish.
    Why is that important? It’s important because the land that is east and north of the French Quarter is prime real estate. The developers want it but the people who own it won’t give it up. They are a resilient bunch. Through Katrina and now the BP fiasco every little bit more of stress encourages people to move, to sell. Make it untenable to dwell there and offer a premium price for the land then you can start to develop the area without the problematic demography. What do you think the Flood of 1927 was all about? There was no need to dynamite the levees which were extremely well built. It was that the Central City financiers were having to get their shoes wet in the financial district. The flooding in the Quarter was gone in a week. It was an unforgiveable act of arrogance and mean spirited exploitation just like it is today.
    Similar to Bush during Katrina; Obama during BP; Hoover took the better part of a week to go to New Orleans to survey the situation. When he got there he wasn’t going to assist anyone or provide medical or food supplies for those sharecroppers and their families trapped in the highly flooded area of the lower bayous. It was only the public outcry that caused Hoover to relent; and only then the only people allowed to be boated out were the white sharecroppers. The coloreds were left there on their own. Does that sound familiar?
    We will probably never get the truth let alone justice from any of our politicians who are bought and paid for; blackmailed due to financial or sexual proclivities the voters wouldn’t like; by the international financiers who use English channels to carry out their dictates. The bottom line is money. You and I don’t have it so we don’t matter and neither does most of the ninth ward. With any crime, 99% of the time it is always initiated or perpetrated by those who stand to profit. The BP fiasco is merely the latest event in an international strategy to kill America, and if Canadians aren’t careful, them too.

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