The Democratic congressional majority has had little stomach for its duty of overseeing the Obama administration. Unfortunately, this has resulted in strictly partisan oversight as Republicans on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee step into the vacuum. But at least there’s someone keeping an eye on this administration, because the press hasn’t always been so hot on it.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee’s ranking member, has announced he will release a report later today on the oil spill response. It appears to bolster criticisms from both the Left and the Right that have rained down on the administration since this disaster began.
Here is part of the preview he provides:
“The number of assets claimed [by the White House], however, does not appear to match what is actually in the field. This is corroborated by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who shared a similar story with investigators. BP and Coast Guard provided Mr. Nungesser with a map of the Gulf allegedly pinpointing the exact locations of 140 skimmers cleaning up oil. Sensing that the chart may have been somewhat inaccurate, Mr. Nungesser requested a flyover of the assets for verification. After three cancelled trips, officials admitted to Mr. Nungesser that only 31 of the 140 skimmers were ever deployed. The rest were sitting at the docks. According to Mr. Nungesser, the chart appeared to have been fabricated.”
Obama’s ‘Command-and-Control’ An Illusion: Who’s In Charge?
“Parish officials maintain that the federal government has not been in control since day one. In four separate interviews, senior-ranking Parish officials described how, until the President’s visit on May 28, 2010, BP was in charge. According to one official, “until two weeks ago [after the President’s May 28, 2010, visit], BP was in charge and the Coast Guard looked to them for direction.” Furthermore, “Coast Guard asks BP,” not vice-versa. When specifically asked to agree or disagree with the assertion that the federal government had been in control since day one, another official firmly disagreed. Mr. Nungesser told staff that “today, I can’t tell you who is in control,” and invited committee investigators to visit the command center to see for themselves.”
Resources Used as Bargaining Chip to Mute Criticism
“In some instances, it appears that equipment is provided simply to quiet public criticism. Mr. Nungesser, who has frequently appeared on local and national television, was apparently visited by two White House officials at his office on Fathers’ Day. According to Mr. Nungesser, the purpose of their visit was to find a way to keep him from calling attention to the lack of equipment. Specifically, they asked him, “What do we have to do to keep you off tv?” He simply replied, “give me what I need.” On another occasion, Placquemines Parish officials requested 20 skimmers at a town hall meeting held by the Coast Guard. According to Mr. Nungesser, “They gave us two skimmers to shut us up.” These accounts raise serious questions about whether the Administration is more concerned with fighting a public relations battle than combating the oil spill.”
Federal Response Ties Hands of Local Assets
“LaFourche President Charlotte Randolph told committee staff that “we would have liked to have played offense. Would like to have made an effort to collect at the site instead of the shoreline.” This belief is echoed by a Jefferson Parish official who, within days of the explosion, warned BP and the Coast Guard that oil was rapidly approaching and requested that they deploy equipment to prevent it from reaching shore. The local official told committee investigators that, “they all said ‘don’t worry about it.” A St. Bernard Parish official, who described the situation as the “slowest and most ineffective response,” made an emotional plea to “give us the equipment.” There are approximately 700 fishermen in his Parish trained and ready to deploy boom as quickly as the Coast Guard can supply it. Despite multiple requests, however, the supplies are not flowing into the area. As he describes, “it’s like giving me a [gun] with no bullets; it’s just a paperweight.” Accounts such as these not only cast doubt upon the timeline’s credibility and the White House accounting of deployed assets, but also call into question the command-and-control structure producing these results.”