Report: Obama knew from the beginning that oil leak would likely last months

posted at 9:56 pm on June 4, 2010 by Allahpundit

This makes all those golf outings, sports-team photo ops, and celebrity jams with Paul McCartney over the past six weeks feel extra special, doesn’t it?

The White House appears resigned to living with the BP oil spill for some time to come. But that’s not surprising—since President Obama and his team were briefed from the outset that the blowout at the Deepwater Horizons rig was epic in scope—and would not be fixable for a long, long time.

Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told Obama in late April that the blowout would likely lead to an unprecedented environmental disaster, a senior White House aide told The Daily Beast. Browner warned that capping a well at such depths had never been done before, and that they ought to expect an oil spill that would continue until a relief well was drilled in August, the aide said. (Browner’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment).

That bleak prognosis, delivered so early on, has infused Obama’s senior team with a sense of fatalism about the spill from the start. Little that has happened since has changed their mindset. Now six weeks later, the president’s top advisers expect the oil spill – and the negative stories – to continue through August.

That’s from frequent Olbermann guest Richard Wolffe. I’m not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, no less than the New York Times op-ed page was ripping Obama for being slow off the mark in dealing with the spill as far back as April 30. On the other hand, if he really is powerless to do anything because the feds simply don’t have the expertise to cap a well the way BP does, what was he supposed to have done after Browner briefed him? He could have given a national address right away leveling with the public about the potential magnitude of the disaster — he was Captain Transparency during the campaign — but why risk that when there was still hope at the time that BP could get things under control relatively quickly? It would have been an invitation for greens to rip on him and other supporters of drilling before there was any confirmation yet that the disaster was unprecedented. He could have skipped all the happy happy joy joy photo ops at the White House Correspondents Dinner and beyond, but those are at least instances of him doing “stuff,” even if it’s really stupid stuff. Sitting around all day looking worried would only heighten the perception of how powerless he is. Weird as it may sound, rocking out to “Hey Jude” is probably better for his re-election chances than pics of him sitting at his desk with his hands folded, waiting for BP to call with an update.

The real disgrace here is why, if he really did know right away that this was the oil equivalent of an asteroid strike, he didn’t scramble some sort of all-hands-on-deck emergency operation to protect the coastline. Remember, Jindal reportedly requested five million feet of hard boom back on May 2, long after Obama (according to Wolffe) knew about the magnitude of the disaster. By May 24, not even 800,000 feet had arrived. What happened?


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Which is the worse environmental hazard– sand berms or oil-soaked wetlands?
obladioblada on June 5, 2010 at 11:01 AM

To quote Dear Leader when he was pushing Porkulus:

“No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger”…”Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. Let’s show people all over our country who are looking for leadership in this difficult time that we are equal to the task.”

Also apropos to the economic damage the oil spill is unleashing:

“A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession, a less robust recovery, and a more uncertain future.”

Buy Danish on June 5, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Laura Curtis on June 5, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Thanks for the clarification. I figured as much. I’ve been checking out the AmeriCorps websites and most of their news releases are about meetings and conventions.

One more question: Are these volunteers you cited paid or true volunteers?

Buy Danish on June 5, 2010 at 11:15 AM

On the other hand, if he really is powerless to do anything because the feds simply don’t have the expertise to cap a well the way BP does, what was he supposed to have done after Browner briefed him?

This may have been covered in the myriad of comments above, but:

1. He could have made a national statement on day 2 where he explained the nature of the explosion and called on America to pray for the crew aboard and the lives lost.
2. In the same statement, he could have warned America that the briefings he’d received thus far indicate a serious condition that could result in a catastrophic oil spill. That BP, in conjunction with other oil companies and Federal and State authorities are working to correct and minimize the potential effects.
3. Every other day or so, he, or someone highly placed in his cabinet (Salazar?) should have had a press conference (remember the military press conferences during Desert Storm?) to explain progress, future plans, and any policy considerations going forward. They should have announced that all similar rigs were being rigorously inspected to insure they were not subject to the same problems.
4. Clean up crews should have been coordinated with BP and on standby along the shoreline. There were weeks where the people of the region, especially those currently unemployed, could have been enlisted, trained, and prepared to aid in the cleanup. Certainly there was time to work out a contract regarding health and safety issues, pay, and work hours so that much more of the oil reaching the shore today could have been either stopped, or immediately dealt with everywhere -not just the places Barry was scheduled for a photo op.

In the Marine Corps, we called it SMEAC -the five paragraph order for problem solving. It’s not a new concept, and it is proven throughout a lengthy history to be effective. What’s shockingly surprising (or maybe by this point it’s to be expected) is that this administration had never even heard of it. Total and complete lack of leadership.

Exit question (as the HotAir crew likes to say): If Browner briefed the President as to the expected breadth of this spill, do the claims that BP lied -or mislead the administration about the number of barrels leaking daily into the Gulf early on (“because they had a financial interest in doing so” -C. Browner) seem a bit dubious?

BKeyser on June 5, 2010 at 11:20 AM

One more question: Are these volunteers you cited paid or true volunteers?

Buy Danish on June 5, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Volunteers. Although I’m told BP has been hiring. And that in order to get the hazmat training for the “good” cleanup opportunities, you need to take a paying job – they’re not providing hazmat training to volunteers.

Laura Curtis on June 5, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Volunteers. Although I’m told BP has been hiring. And that in order to get the hazmat training for the “good” cleanup opportunities, you need to take a paying job – they’re not providing hazmat training to volunteers.
Laura Curtis on June 5, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Thanks again. I don’t have a problem with people being paid, but I do think it’s BS when the feds call paid work “volunteerism”, especially when there’s $6 billion in taxpayer dollars funding the “volunteers”.

BTW, Here’s the AmeriCorps website. I don’t see a single flipping thing about cleaning up the beaches.

Buy Danish on June 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM

I can almost hear Obama as Barney Fife saying, “Yah, Andy, I knew this spill would last for months. Yep, I knew it, heh.” We so need a photoshop artist to depict Obama as Deputy Barney Fife. That would be snort worthy and oh so appropriate.

Mojave Mark on June 4, 2010 at 11:02 PM

You had to ask . . .

tpitman on June 5, 2010 at 11:31 AM

I can almost hear Obama as Barney Fife saying, “Yah, Andy, I knew this spill would last for months. Yep, I knew it, heh.” We so need a photoshop artist to depict Obama as Deputy Barney Fife. That would be snort worthy and oh so appropriate.

Mojave Mark on June 4, 2010 at 11:02 PMI can almost hear Obama as Barney Fife saying, “Yah, Andy, I knew this spill would last for months. Yep, I knew it, heh.” We so need a photoshop artist to depict Obama as Deputy Barney Fife. That would be snort worthy and oh so appropriate.

Mojave Mark on June 4, 2010 at 11:02 PM

Sorry. Try this . . .
http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w110/pitmangraphics/obamaasfife.jpg

tpitman on June 5, 2010 at 11:37 AM

BTW, Here’s the AmeriCorps website. I don’t see a single flipping thing about cleaning up the beaches.

Buy Danish on June 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM

I have a decidedly skeptical view of Americorps. In any event, the official state website for volunteers has a section on oil spill volunteering… which redirects you to another, more generic website where you complete a profile – skills, availability, etc. and then you evidently wait. Audubon has done a much better job of providing opportunities.

Laura Curtis on June 5, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Funny, the Saudis know how to use tankers to siphon up oil from a plume. You fill the tankers with a mixture of oil and salt water, which then can be separated and refined. The refining process is a pain in the a$$, but it’s one way to mop up a spill so that the damage is dramatically reduced.

Issa’s (arab) distraction is a non-starter…

An investigation of patent and SHORE BANK will bring the perp walks…..all the characters are there….goldman sachs, van jones, all of them…….chicago baby chicago

nondhimmie on June 5, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Slow and incompetent! How soon before the precedent resigns? I would say in disgrace but given dear leader’s proclivity for blaming others and general lack of accountability I don’t see either happening. All of which begs the question, can dopey summon up the courage to admit defeat at the polls?

jdkchem on June 5, 2010 at 12:41 PM

His government has just as much expertise in capping an oil well a mile deep in the water and cleaning up the oil from the water and beaches as Bush’s government did with the unprecedented damage from Katrina.

They really are identical situations, with massively different types of media coverage and public outcry. Guarantee you if McCain was in office while this was going on, it would be non-stop McCain bashing and how “evil Republicans” are in bed with Big Oil and that the US Navy has the tools and expertise to do the job, but McCain and his Republican cronies are making massive amounts of money from the cleanup crews that are tied into Haliburton with a couple of connections with Cheney and black helicopters and other silly crap.

But since it’s Obama, no big deal.

ButterflyDragon on June 5, 2010 at 1:12 PM

I really can’t understand why no media outlet has picked up on The Navy. . . or lack thereof.

The Navy most definitely could bring this under control in relatively short order. They do have the tools and manpower to do it. At the very least, if you don’t want them working on the well head, let the Navy contain the spill. They’ve done it before, MANY TIMES, and they will do it again. Shutting the Navy out of this when they have the tools, experience and trained personnel is amounting to willful negligence in my eyes.

If this really is such an eco-disaster as they are claiming, why is the A Team sitting the bench while fans are being pulled from the stands to play the game?

Jason Coleman on June 5, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Obama never gave a rip about how long the GUSHER (not “spill,” HOT AIR, so please stop using that term) would likely last.

He always and only cared about how long the damage to his presidency would likely last.

Christien on June 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Fidel Castro claims Obama lives in fantasy world

There must be more than one oxymoron in there

J_Crater on June 5, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Climate Bill Rebranded as BP Spill Bill?

Looking to use the Gulf oil spill as an impetus to act on climate and energy legislation, the Senate expects next week to start work on a revamped “BP spill bill” —one that includes both tougher regulation of the industry and the climate and energy provisions outlined last month by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

J_Crater on June 5, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Jindal reportedly requested five million feet of hard boom back on May 2, long after Obama (according to Wolffe) knew about the magnitude of the disaster. By May 24, not even 800,000 feet had arrived. What happened?

The Obama administration was meddeling in the mid-term elections. Has PETA issued a statement yet about all the pelicans/dolphins that died while Obama played golf?

TN Mom on June 5, 2010 at 3:53 PM

And they are saying the CEO dumped his shares weeks before the accident?

johnnyU on June 5, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Add this item to the long-list of administration failures: TEAM OBAMA IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER!

Mutnodjmet on June 5, 2010 at 4:43 PM

of course he knew. That’s how long rahm told him when they were planning it.

elifino on June 5, 2010 at 8:43 PM

To those who wonder why the federal government is BLAMING BP for failing to follow federal regulations. In California, ALL offshore rigs have STRINGENT regulations in place already. EVERY time well casing is run and cemented, the state and city witnesses the pressure test to verify the cement is going to hold preventing this situation. I’m sure in the Gulf the same rules apply if not more so.

For Obowma to sue BP while NEVER commenting on the 11 deaths on this rig is disgusting and yet typical for this buffoon.

dthorny on June 5, 2010 at 10:45 PM

I guess this is why he felt no urgency to visit! What a buffoon this pres is!
Bush would’ve been down to visit the families and there would be no pictures allowed.

Just heard on the radio about a new book about obama. Anyone heard anything about it? Said it has been all over the internet, but I haven’t seen it.

Bambi on June 6, 2010 at 1:09 AM

I guess this is why he felt no urgency to visit! What a buffoon this pres is!
Bush would’ve been down to visit the families and there would be no pictures allowed.

Just heard on the radio about a new book about obama. Anyone heard anything about it? Said it has been all over the internet, but I haven’t seen it.

Bambi on June 6, 2010 at 1:09 AM

There is a book and a movie has been made:

DUMB AND DUMBER.

See World Net Daily for Obowma books.

dthorny on June 6, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Exactly, but that is not the one I heard about. Something about drugs, sex, murder, etc.

Bambi on June 6, 2010 at 10:27 AM

I can almost hear Obama as Barney Fife saying, “Yah, Andy, I knew this spill would last for months. Yep, I knew it, heh.” We so need a photoshop artist to depict Obama as Deputy Barney Fife. That would be snort worthy and oh so appropriate.

Mojave Mark on June 4, 2010 at 11:02 PM

How is that for ya.

Koa on June 6, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Oil ruining the coasts and the coastal economies. Yep. Wreck America. We’re too good to stay that way, so wreck us. Bastard.

johnnyU on June 7, 2010 at 11:17 AM

I work in the oil industry in LA

the MMS is being played as a scapegoat here
they are not incompetent or unethical

initial oil containment involving burning the oil
was quite successful and stopped within 2 days by the EPA

oil companies have many safeguards and this accident is a tragic composite of human error, equipment malfunction and procedural issues – very tragic

Obama’s response – no response till msm finally jumped on board

when Carville and company (Matthews, Oberlien, etc) started to complain then FINALLY Obama gave an open press conference

the feds response has been all about

political damage control

not

disaster containment

there has been a chinch in the Obama armor

he really can’t respond to crisis and more are piling up as we speak

the oil companies will be run down as the bullies
prices will go up and the “drill baby drill” republicans will be the ones getting heat in November

what a farce

audiotom on June 7, 2010 at 1:38 PM

I think that Obama was willing to use this incident as an excuse to tax/punish oil companies, so instead of warning the American people of potential danger, he let us assume it would be handled quickly.

hawksruleva on June 7, 2010 at 2:08 PM

They have recently stated the recovery amount in GALLONS but it converts out (at 31 gallon to a barrel) to about 14000 barrels being recovered. Thats better than nothing for now. They are vowing to replace the cap in a month or so. The actual uncapped rate is unknown. 14000 a day recovery is a lot of oil but its not ALL. This is the 21st Century. We are not stupid people and we need to be doing better.

johnnyU on June 7, 2010 at 5:26 PM

I will admit ignorance here, but others have asked about the U.S. Navy and other Federal agencies. Why hasn’t FEMA been involved? Or, have they and I haven’t seen it?

Bigurn on June 7, 2010 at 7:45 PM

johnnyU on June 7, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Sorry to nitpick, but a barrel of oil is 42 gallons.

It’s clear that there are two main culprits in this entire tragedy & fiasco: BP Oil for ignoring or blowing past almost a half-dozen safety procedures, creating the explosion. That was followed by a fumbling, inept, unprepared response in their attempts to cap the well. If there was a book or manual called “How Not To Drill An Offshore Deepwater Well”, BP could write it.

The second culprit is the Obama misAdministration. Their response has been nonexistent and their support of the cleanup efforts have been a running joke down here in Louisiana.

The only “good thing” out of this is that cookouts have been made easier. Now when we throw a fish on the grill it automatically bursts into flames. (j/k)

CatchAll on June 7, 2010 at 8:22 PM

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