DOJ Sits On Its Thumbs A Year After Macondo’s Mouth Of Hell Roared

It has now been, as noted at FDLNews by David Dayen, one year from the date the British Petroleum wellhead at Macondo blew out, thus killing 11 workers on the TransOcean platform known as “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jason Anderson, Aaron Dale Burkeen, Donald Clark, Stephen Curtis, Roy Wyatt Kemp, Karl Kleppinger, Gordon Jones, Blair Manuel, Dewey Revette, Shane Roshto, Adam Weise

These are names you should know. These are the first, and most blatant, victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion at Macondo. Their actual names do not quickly come to the tongue, nor are they so easy to find. In fact, you know what I had to do to find them? Go through the same process this guy did. And, still, the first link I found them at was his post. Here is a taste of his disgust, and I join it wholeheartedly:

I had to search for those 11 names; most of you may not know them. We didn’t start a war over them, they’re not under any suspicion of anything, not a board of directors of some evil corporate cabal; on the contrary, many would say they are victims of it.


But I found them in a story about how frustrated the families are a year later, how frustrated the region is and how all this pep talk about how things are recovering just aren’t true. And there’s plenty of stories about how BP claims to have had its best year ever in terms of safety, yet it caused the worst oil spill in history?? Lots of stories about how the CEO got a million dollar retirement package and bonuses given here and there and it’s enough to make one puke crude, much like a lot of the Gulf remains doing.

First of all, to the families, these people are not “presumed” dead Wikipedia. I know it may be a legal thing, bodies never found, no conclusive evidence, blah blah. They were killed, soldiers in the energy wars killed by friendly fire.


…victims of our wanton unbridled lust for oil and the greed of those that produce it. They are dead, gone forever, never to be seen or see their loved ones or live to any more potential; they are gone.

And their deaths appear to have meant little to the world. Nor did the subsequent deaths of everything from thousands of dolphins to countless species of marine life; from the deaths of the livelihoods of so many in the region to the loss of countless ecosystems.

Truer words have likely never been spoken. And that is where I want to pick up.

What could have been done to address these heinous human and ecological wrongs that has not?


Because nothing, not diddly squat, has been done. And if the corporate powers that be in this country, and the political puppets who serve them, including Barack Obama, Eric Holder and the currently politicized Department of Justice, have anything to say about it (and they have everything to say about it) nothing significant is going to be done about BP, TransOcean, Halliburton and the Gulf tragedy, or anything related, in the future.

Like the craven and dishonest shell game that has been played by the current administration with regard to torture and destruction of evidence, the US government appears to simply be determined to shine this on with the bare minimum of faux accountability and disingenuous rhetoric to soothe the perturbed masses and maintain status quo with their partners in corporate/political domination of the American populous. That is clearly who they are, and quite apparently who we have become.

So, what could have been the process? Well, that is pretty easily delineated. In fact, I set it out definitively on May 28th of last year. Please refer to the link to the post for a complete list of the factors, nee elements of the crimes, that were already present a year ago. It is startling to realize what was already known then; especially when compounded with what is known now. The only difference today is that we can definitively add the United States government, and the administration of Barack Obama, to the queue of “Criminals in the Gulf“.

Last May I wrote:

As a direct and proximate result of the above described reckless, wanton, willful, and grossly negligent conduct, eleven men are dead and the biggest environmental disaster in history has been unleashed on the fragile and critical Gulf of Mexico, threatening the lives and livelihoods of untold numbers of American families. Some of the toxic death foisted upon the environment cannot even be seen because it lurks in deep giant underwater plumes miles wide by miles long.

The applicable criminal provisions of the Clean Water Act are set out in 33 USC 1319….The Federal criminal provisions for negligent and reckless homicide (statutorily known as manslaughter) are contained in 18 USC 1112….


It is hard, if not impossible, to find any way that the conduct of both BP and its key decision making officials responsible for the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, and corresponding mass loss of life, do not fit within the ambit of the above crimes. Why has the Obama Administration and its DOJ not acted? Why is there not a dedicated criminal investigation open and securing critical evidence?

As best as can be ascertained, the only real DOJ Main assets sent to the Gulf scene are Tony West and Ignacia Moreno, the talking heads for the Civil Division and Environmental Divisions respectively, a tasking that screams of a total coddle the petroleum industry and manage the fallout move, not a get tough criminal consideration.

The DOJ could also be using the Texas Refinery Fire probation case that BP is still under the court’s jurisdiction for from their 2007 felony conviction as an easy investigatory and prosecutorial tool; but the DOJ will not even address the thought, much less act on it.


The Obama Administration and its DOJ owes the citizens a better effort than they have mustered to date. It is funny they are out trying to prosecute Guantanamo defense attorneys for doing their jobs and are still hell bent to persecute inconsequential marijuana crimes, but have no burning desire to go hard after BP, the biggest environmental criminal in history. How can that be?

In addition to the above manslaughter and general CWA crimes clearly present, 33 USC 1319 contains the criminal provision of the Clean Water Act. Specifically, 33 USC 1319(c)(1)(A) and 1319(c)(2)(A), through their reference to multiple other provisions, but most notably 33 USC 1312, make the toxic contamination of navigable waterways and wetlands a crime.

So, what has transpired in the way of criminal prosecution now that we have reached the one year anniversary of Macondo, the Mouth of Hell, rearing its head and opening its maw?

Not a thing. The US government and the Administration/DOJ of Barack Obama is just stringing it out and propping up the status quo and corporate interests such as BP. Seriously, I have been in the criminal law business for two and a half decades, and you literally almost have to fight to not be prosecuting BP for the criminally negligent, if not recklessly indifferent, deaths of the eleven lost souls on Deepwater Horizon.

Like with torture and the financial meltdown, the criminal activity is so obvious you have to consciously want to “look forward” and want to not prosecute in order to not do so. And that is, apparently, just exactly the case with the Obama Administration and the Holder Department of Justice to date. For the better part of a year, DOJ pitched the bogus meme there was a team working diligently on the BP Oil Spill. But that “task force” was led by Tony West and Ignacia Moreno, a couple of talking head tailored suits out of DOJ Main. Knowledgable former EPA criminal investigators pointed out early on, it seemed just for show and, sure enough, very little appears to have resulted from all those months of the DOJ Deepwater Horizon investigation. In fact, the only notable thing which appears to be resulting from the so called “criminal investigation” is that it is being used to shield and hide the real ecological destruction to the Gulf occasioned by the oil spill, such as the inexplicable and tragic dolphin deaths.

Now, to be fair, the Obama Administration, at the end of March, made another one of its patented government by press release moves by announcing they are “considering” filing manslaughter charges against BP managers. Included in the new PR push was the first official mention of using the somewhat archaic “Seaman’s Manslaughter” law, which is embodied in 18 USC 1115. In a nutshell, the Seamen’s Manslaughter statute allows the government to hold seafarers, owners of vessels, and the corporate management that controls vessels, criminally accountable for maritime accidents that result in the death of a person (Here is a pretty good paper on the statute).

Is there any reason to give the claimed new “push” by DOJ any credibility? The answer depends. Also in late March, the DOJ made a mostly ignored change in leadership on their supposed Gulf Oil Spill investigation. The investigation, the only known active part of which was done by the EPA Environmental Crimes Unit and the US Attorney’s Office in Eastern District of Louisiana, was suddenly yanked and a new “task force” formed to be specially supervised by a chap by the name of John Buretta, who is touted as a veteran criminal prosecutor. That sounds all well and good until you take a good look at what Buretta’s experience really is.

The first thing a closer inspection yields is that Buretta, while indeed having some solid prosecutorial experience, has it almost exclusively in racketeering cases in the Eastern District of New York; he made his bones on mob racketeering investigations. It is hard to see how that lends the experience, knowledge base or skill set for complex environmental crimes. People experienced with complex environmental crimes will tell you (and have told me) environmental crimes is a specialized area, and that a rackets prosecutor from Brooklyn is a severe fish out of water for the Gulf Oil Spill case.

Understandably, the decision to move Buretta in and remove Howard Stewart, the Senior Environmental Crimes Attorney, has generated a high level of frustration in the Environmental section. Behind the scenes, the EPA Criminal Investigative Division (CID) staff believe it is a huge blow because it signals the environmental crimes won’t be dealt with seriously. Furthermore, the EPA criminal investigators have claimed from the start they were being micromanaged by senior political appointees in Washington and not allowed to conduct thorough investigations, just as feared would be the case by the former EPA Criminal Dvision agents when the investigation started. The significance of this marginalization of the environmental unit to the environmental crimes will become clear below.

The other thing that jumps out is the way the Obama Administration has turned their PR play on the matter – it smacks of the same patently dishonest and craven play they ran to slough off any meaningful prosecution of torture and destruction of the critical torture tapes by high level CIA officers, almost certainly working in concert with senior Bush Administration officials. The Buretta announcement appears to have been rolled out by Carrie Johnson, formerly of the Washington Post and now at NPR, and historically a trusted useful tool for the DOJ when they want to want to launder bullshit to the press.

You might remember Johnson from the almost identical type of reporting she did for the DOJ when they were pulling the wool over the public’s eyes regarding the whitewash of the torture tape investigation. When this blog and a few others were making big noise on how the DOJ was cravenly running out the clock on the torture tape destruction prosecutions, the DOJ again turned to Johnson to soft sell the fact they, and their “special prosecutor”, John Durham (who had no torture nor national security experience, but was, yes, another DOJ mob specialist), had intentionally run out the clock on the prosecutions.

Johnson, of course, came through for DOJ with the requisite con job that it was all necessary and there still might be accountability, which was a total joke. And now here is Johnson again carrying the water for the DOJ attempt to shoehorn Buretta, yet another loyal AUSA with nothing but mob experience, but no usable experience in the field to which he is being specially assigned.

So, what does all this mean for the concept of meaningful and appropriate accountability for BP and the other criminal malefactors in the Gulf Oil Spill? The smart money is on the “nothing good” square. While the DOJ now, all of a sudden, is interested in “streamlining” the case, in actuality it likely is the path being set up for a package deal to resolve everything nice and neat so both BP and the Obama Administration can “look forward”. There are subtle tells as to where the Administration is going. The first tell is the newfound emphasis on “Seamen’s manslaughter”, in that, although it is a felony homicide provision, it only requires a showing of regular negligence, as opposed to gross negligence or recklessness under the traditional criminal homicide provisions.

And this is where the sidelining of the environmental crimes team comes into play. By only dealing in terms of regular negligence, as opposed to gross negligence, on the environmental crimes, the administration can minimize the financial penalties assessed to BP. Under the Clean Water Act, the two factors which determine the size of the financial penalty are the total amount of barrels spilled and whether the spill was the result of ordinary negligence, in which case the strict liability damages are assessed at $1,100 per barrel spilled; or “gross negligence” in which case the fine is as high as $4,300 per barrel spilled.

On the largest oil spill in history, having to pay the severely higher damages under gross negligence would be a serious blow to BP. But BP’s own disclosures reveal they are quite certain that will not occur, and there is every indication the Obama Administration intends to see it does not impose such a “hardship” on its favorite partner for military fuel purposes. Not to mention that Barack Obama is again in full campaign fundraising mode and BP is one of his biggest corporate sponsors.

The bottom line is it is a safe bet John Buretta, the rackets specialist, has been assigned to wrap up a nice tidy little package involving simple negligence across the board. It minimizes the spill penalties to BP and will allow criminal charges, if there are any individuals charged at all, to be restricted to a couple of sacrificial lambs who were calling the shots on the Deepwater Horizon rig. If I were Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the BP company men in charge of Deepwater Horizon when it blew, I would be more than a little worried about the direction this is going, because they are the obvious lambs being prepared for slaughter.

But BP itself, on the other hand, looks set up to be escorted through the process by the Administration and DOJ mostly unscathed. That is what the government does for its valued corporate partners. In fact, far from being penalized and/or debarred from federal contracting as it should be, as Jason Leopold reported Wednesday, BP is being given sweetheart no-bid contracts by the Administration.

Maybe a rackets prosecutor is the right guy after all, because this is quite a racket being run between the US government and BP. A year after Macondo the Mouth of Hell roared, and it is business as usual. Who could have predicted?

[Graphic – BP: Broken Promises. Logo design by Foye 2010 submitted as part of the Art For Change BP Logo Redesign Contest and used with permission]

  1. allan says:

    These are names you should know.

    There are 17 more we should know: those who were injured, some presumably with horrible burns.
    I find it creepy that the media obsesses over Gabby Giffords’ every step to recovery
    while flushing the maimed Deepwater Horizon workers down the memory hole.

  2. klynn says:

    Thanks bmaz.

    A year after Macondo the Mouth of Hell roared, and it is business as usual. Who could have predicted?

    As it was sung yesterday…”We paid our dues, where’s our change?”

    (my bold)

  3. Chief says:

    And yet, (I repeat for emphasis) AND YET our media obsesses over the marriage of a member of the royal family of a has-been empire.

  4. Peterr says:

    If I were Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the BP company men in charge of Deepwater Horizon when it blew, I would be more than a little worried about the direction this is going, because they are the obvious lambs being prepared for slaughter.

    I would also be engaging my own legal counsel.

    I’m sure BP told them “We’ll back you all the way on this, and our lawyers are working overtime to deal with everything.” Note, however, that BP’s lawyers have BP for a client. Their first obligation is not to Kaluza and Vidrine, but to BP. If tossing these two overboard will make BPs legal problems go away, I have no doubt the BP lawyers will do exactly that.

    BPs nightmare, though, is that these two — or others — will make a separate deal with someone. That’s the only thing that is keeping BP from throwing them over right now.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, that is the problem for them though, if it goes down like I think it is looking, and right now I absolutely think that is what is in the offing, there is no deal for them to make. If there are going to be any individual criminal charges filed, they ARE the deal that makes sure nobody higher up the foodchain gets nicked. There is also a fair chance the DOJ will flake out on charging any individuals. But if there are any lambs charged, there isn’t any deal other than extremely lenient sentencing such as was fought for and insured for Scott Bloch.

      • Peterr says:

        Let’s follow that hypothetical a bit . . .

        Once individual charges get filed against these two, then they have a prosecutor with whom they can deal. BPs lawyers will no doubt tell them “Look, they have to file charges against someone, to make it look good. We’ll be right there fighting, and if you should get convicted, we’ll fight it on appeal. We can probably make a good deal with the prosecutors right now, to minimize this whole mess.”

        But if these lambs have their own lawyers, that conversation will be a lot different. “Look, fellas — BP is hanging you out to dry, so that Tony Hayward can get his life back. As YOUR lawyer — not BPs lawyer — I’m telling you that your best bet to keep out of jail and/or bankruptcy is to tell the prosecutors whatever you can about pressure from the top to cut corners, shave the safety regulations, and keep the oil flowing at all costs. If you can point the prosecutors up the food chain, we’ve got a much better chance of dealing with this.”

        As long as they are trusting in the tender mercies of BPs corporate counsel, they are in deep trouble.

          • Peterr says:

            There is the little matter of the judge, however.

            You’re the lawyer, not me, but isn’t there a part of every case involving a plea deal where the defendants go before the judge and say “yes, what is alleged by the prosecutors and stated in the plea agreement is indeed true”?

            For BP to make a deal whereby these two become the sacrificial lambs, the lambs have to walk willingly into court, put their necks on the block, and tell the judge “chop here, please.”

            BPs lawyers may be able to talk them into doing that, but if they’ve got their own lawyers, that’s a lot less likely.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          At a minimum, criminal investigations are leverage to force disclosures, to document the need for change and the new laws required to bring it about, to elicit “voluntary” contributions toward the costs of clean-up, which will exceed those incurred for the Exxon Valdez disaster.

          Criminal prosecutions are necessary in their own right; they are also a routine expression of raw power, the kind Mr. Obama was so willing to use to extract a single spy from the criminal justice system of a South Asian ally. Except that here, it would be using power on behalf of the public rather than against it.

          That’s not the way our acolyte of the status quo thinks, nor anyone else considered a success in Washington. In fact, using power for that purpose they would consider fringe – like an Oliver Stone movie. They would consider it naive, to be relinquishing power, not enhancing it. Politicians who do such things may be popular with voters – like a Southern populist. They make nervous, however, their peers and opponents and the forces that subsidize them both in their ostensible public employment.

          Mr. Obama may have been an “A” student of the law; he’s a better student of power and how to wield it without seeming to be responsible for it.

  5. joelmael says:

    Thanks much Bmaz. Very discouraging read, trying to shake off the feeling we are in a hopeless situation. Obama trapped us good. How do we get out from under the loss of our legal security, such as it was, during the last few years. When the DOJs high and low will not act, where is there a lever enforce the law?

  6. mouvedre says:

    Great article but he fails to mention BP’s not-so-smooth (read desperate)move to run all that litigation through the Russian legal system in partnering with Putin/Rosneft in Artic drilling. One is left to wonder where our military will be getting their oil once Putin and BP are blissfully wedded.

  7. DWBartoo says:

    You have summed up current American “reality” with precision and clarity, bmaz.

    Nothing will “change” … and the outrages WILL, daily, continue.

    However, nothing can or will change until enough human beings INSIST upon a rule of law, and as most Americans haven’t the vaguest notion of what that really means, it will take the “instruction” of many more years of loss and suffering before critical mass is reached … here, in the “Homeland”.

    In the mean (and I mean “MEAN”) time … the LAW will support and encourage the staus quo, that being, as EOH has explained time and again, its primary function. Perpetual war and economic blood-letting for the benefit of the 1% will continue, unabated …

    Frankly, “America” and its sociopathic elite, the ruling classes, will not change until forced to do so.

    It shall require a “convention” in Geneva, with the USA as primary “quest”, convened by the rest of the world.

    The kicker being that the good ole YouEssAy can destroy that world several times over, leaving it to Dog to “decide” the good, the bad, and the smugly … that is, if the model of American avarice has not rendered the planet unable to sustain human life in the MEANtime.

    Perhaps, it is time to think post-collapse?

    Within the realm of the “possible”, it may be that the people of this nation CAN find a humane and decent way forward, but that will require courage, humanity, and reason, all, seemingly, in short supply.

    I imagine that we will need the help of others, one way or another, to find and embrace those things.


  8. BayStateLibrul says:

    It points to a larger question: why does it take so fucking long for lawsuits?

    Time is of NO fucking essence.

    Look at Bonds — nine years… look at a host of suits.

    The legal community should be ashamed of itself

  9. JTMinIA says:

    But, but, but, bmaz, gas is at $4 a gallon again. Or do you want the terrorists* to win?

    Note. * = people I can’t name and probably haven’t committed any crimes, but are still bad and, therefore, should not be allowed to be happy

  10. shootthatarrow says:

    Seeing how Barack Obama is now running for another four year WH term he should get grilled deep and long during next 20 months over his lackluster,complacent post BP explosion/spill reaction/follow-up. Obama has often acted or acts like he works for BP — not the United States Of America Federal Government.

    Barack Obama has not stepped up and displayed leadership or some sense of actual custodianship for the public office interests of POTUS that should have been engaged from Day One regarding this human,environmental disaster that has spread across and around the Gulf of Mexico.

    The misdirection,obstruction and widely cast deception since BP so recklessly allowed this tragic event to take place have been pathetic and comtemptible.

    Barack Obama has demonstrated little in way of stewardship of his public office responsibility and legal duty to curtail the BS piling up that BP has demonstrated over and over regarding this Gulf of Mexico Debacle. The remedy process has been slothful. The compensation process a chronic fail/failure. The need to address and solve human and enviromental damages delayed or denied.

    Barack Obama does not deserve to be re-elected in 2012. Based on Obama’s lack of integrity to do the American publics business in transparent ways,in good faith and with honesty in service of American public interests in a whole Gulf of Mexico and the Ameirican peoples right to see BP tasked with justice done.

    Vote Obama out of the WH in 2012. Do the Gulf of Mexico and America a favor.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Our once and future agent of change.

    British Petroleum is a model for how American corporations and the Obama administration treat the environment, respond to global warming, make working conditions safe, and succor the needs of families directly injured by our collective lust for oil. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

    Enforcing the law against one of the world’s most relentless and ruthless corporations – one that has violated the laws of nearly every jurisdiction in which it does business – would be rude, so unVillage like in demeanor.

    Enforcing the law, seeking redress for corporate wrongs, forcing businesses – in good Chicago School fashion – to internalize the costs of their risk taking rather than allow them to be dumped on the world, all that might dry up funds needed to stay in office and promote change we can believe in. It might scare off corporations, cause them to move their “jobs” and “investment” offshore. It might cause them to be more conservative, to find and produce less oil or alternative sources of energy the search for which their billions in profits might fund.

    None of that is happening anyway. Jobs and investment flow offshore faster than BP can spill oil. Profits are pocketed, hundreds of millions are spent just to reward and retire top executives, even if their success is rare or lucky. We must encourage even greater risk taking, so that Siberia, the Poles, the mountains and deserts and plains can be scoured for oil and its extraction assured regardless of immediate and long term costs. That’s Mr. Obama’s policy, the one he inherited, the one he will put on a surer permanent footing, as he does all others.

    In a saner world, even the one Mr. Obama grew up in, criminal prosecutions would have been sought as a matter of course, because BP’s behavior pre- and post-blow out needs to be thoroughly investigated; the technical and management reasons for it explored; the avoidable risks avoided; the unavoidable ones planned and paid for; and the crimes punished so as to avoid their repetition and prevent the moral hazard in having a company, an industry, a corporate world imagining it can get away with murder.

    In the world Mr. Obama grew up in, the one that took us into Vietnam and Nicaragua and that gave us the Exxon Valdez, criminal prosecutions would be sought also as leverage to force massive corporations to reveal; to change their Rockefellerian ways, at least temporarily; to pay at least part of the monumental costs created by how they do business; to make their promises to be responsible corporate citizens an aspiration rather than a throwaway line used to light Cuban cigars.

    Mr. Obama’s ruthless, thoughtless careerism has rarely been better displayed. As in so many other ways, he is a canary in the coal mine, not the leader or agent of change he advertises himself as being. At least Zaphod Beeblebrox was funny.

    • klynn says:

      This is a great comment. It would make a great diary.

      I appreciate the historical “compare and contrast” points you make to illustrate the problems in any US leader currently or in the future but especially our current president. All the leadership failures are based on known choices by such leader(s).

  12. cbl says:

    bless you bmaz for calling their names – it took me almost 3 weeks after the initial explosion to find them – and that was on a IWW site

    I heartily concur with DW’s assessment above – precise and clear – one hell of an Opening Statement – BP and all other named Defendants would not want this little old lady on that jury

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yanking prosecutors except for cause is a great way to derail an investigation and demoralize investigators. In this case, as is virtually the panoply of cases for which the DoJ is responsible, this administration is shuffling deck chairs, waiting for statutes of limitation to sink below the waves.

    • onitgoes says:

      Yep. Typical trial tactics. Holder may seem like a wimpy jerkwad, but in point of fact, Holder knows *exactly* what he’s doing… as does Obama. This isn’t done by “accident.”

      • DWBartoo says:

        Careful now, oig, yer truthin’ too close to blowin’ the party line outta the water, “it takes time and the Republicans aren’t as quite as nice as we are … but we’re convertin’ em, slowly, yes we are, thas why bipartisanshppery is so very importink …”


    • DWBartoo says:

      You is on a considerable “roll” this ayhem, EOH.

      Much appreciated and damned fine it is, indeed.

      On with ya! Let ‘er rip!


  14. onitgoes says:

    Great post, which makes me very sad, mad, etc, per usual. Thanks for this, and thanks to those who commented so well. Hard to find much info on this disaster of epic proporations anywhere but here.

    In answer to prior comment, which asked: why do law suits take so long? Perhaps the question was rhetorical, I don’t know. But the main reason why most of the big-time law suits take so long (like Barry Bonds) is for one simple reason: MONEY. Not kidding. Is the legal prof ashamed of this? Not on your life; it’s what newbie lawyers are taught from the git-go. How to milk the system for ever more profit is the name of the game.

    The longer the pre-trial stuff goes on, the more CHA-CHING there is. Some time IS required to ferret out the needed info, and the whole pre-trial process – in the big name cases – is all about both sides playing “hide the info” and forcing a lot of searching for it, which again results in CHA-CHING!!!

    I expect no real recompense to Team USA from BP. Whatever happens will most likely *benefit* BP, albeit sacrifical lambs may be thrown out to appease the serfs. What a load of crap… Agree with earlofhuntingdon, Obama is a rapacious MoFo and make no mistake about that. Obama IS a lawyer and “gets” exactly what’s going on… and it’s exactly what O wants to happen. No doubt O will get his “cut” in one way or another… and trait of a rapacious, but financially successful, lawyer. I’ve seen the type all throughout my working life.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Holder and Obama had been serious about challenging BP with a criminal investigation – a complex, decades-long power struggle, but one that favors the government’s power to protect and serve – they would have added talent experienced in white collar crime, tax, labor, securities and anti-trust investigators to the environmental team, not replaced the environmental team’s leadership.

    Wielding government’s power against an entrenched corporate power like BP, IBM, GM, the old Standard Oil is a complex negotiation akin to going to war. A government serious about engaging in it doesn’t bluster like Bush or act precipitately like Cheney. It signals unmistakably that the gloves are off, that crimes and legal violations of all kinds are on the table, that it is devoting all the talent and resources it needs and then some to a long war. Like Crassus displaying for Spartacus his legions across the plains and hills, it is a statement that no holds are barred, that it’s playing for keeps. Mercy and compromise come into it only at the end, and only for the uncompromised and worthy.

    Obama demonstrates that process elegantly in his treatment of whistleblowers, so he knows how. BP is simply not a target that suits his purposes, nor are the people of the Gulf worth distracting him from his agenda.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Lambs to the slaughter. A fitting theme for Good Friday. Who is it that is washing his hands?

    • Peterr says:

      Yeah, this story is a fitting subject for Good Friday.

      For Christians, Good Friday is a day for pondering the death-dealing ways in which we humans treat one another, all for the sake of protecting personal and corporate privilege, wealth, status, etc. Between the handwashing of the leaders and the cheers for death from the crowd, it’s not a pretty picture.

      Kind of like this post.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I don’t think we will see much expurgating of sins in this coddling of corporate abuse, just feasting. The nature of lambs is not to grow old and beget and beget. They are destined to atone for the sins of others, not their own; at least that’s what their slaughterers tell them.

  17. tjbs says:

    I think you don’t understand priorities.

    You have heard about the Medical marijuana that’s the scourge of the country and what a outstanding job eric’s doj is doing in that capacity ? That’s where the manpower is needed most.

    There is no excuse, just corruption.

    • onitgoes says:

      ain’t that a *great* distraction? but maryjane’s been a smoke screen (har de har) for years to fool the rubes into thinking “something important is being addressed.” also I think BigPharma & the CIA wish to keep pot illegal for different reasons, and they have much more sway than you & I, the “average voter,” do. so Holder dutifully goes forth to strut his stuff & fight the scourge of med. whacky weed. such a good use of MY tax dollahs…

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Outside Obama’s Kabuki Theater, BP is down at the courthouse, not to defend against effrontery from the DoJ, but to sue Transocean for $40 billion for its alleged misconduct in operating the Deepwater Horizon rig. That’s a player who knows how to play hardball – with spit, a cork bat and a wad of cash stuffed in the umpire’s pocket.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      BP has also sued Halliburton – how thoughtless, an American president would never consider it – for its “faulty” cement and Cameron, for its “negligent” manufacture and maintenance of the failed blow-out preventer(s).

      The difference in its willingness aggressively to defend its interests compared to how Obama does those he claimed he was elected to defend could not be starker.

  19. harpie says:

    …can’t seem to figure out how best to express this thought, but…

    It doesn’t seem as if there are many in power who actually BELIEVE in the “government’s power to protect and serve“.

    It’s almost like most of them are putting all of our resources into attempting to prove their theory that

    government is the problem, not the answer.

    • onitgoes says:

      yeah that’s an interesting little twist, isn’t it? does seem that’s the goal, along with the greedy goal of stealing as much as possible from the “small people.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That Reaganesque phrase was always intended to deflect, not focus. Government is the solution, to their problems, not ours. Some citizens are simply more equal than others.

    • DWBartoo says:

      It is not “government”, as such, that is the “problem” it is this silly notion of “democracy” … ‘cuz we’ve got to have ORDER, you see, even if it looks like tyranny and feels like “neofeudalism”.

      One imagines, harpie, that, AFTER “they” steal everything not welded to the floor, “they” will offer their “services”, for a sizable “price”, including inheritable “titles”, no doubt, among other things, to the desperately despondent downtrodden, it will be real Old-Testement “stuff”.

      It won’t quite rank with the “Rapture”, but it will be called “Gawd’s Work”.


  20. onitgoes says:

    Are we discussing Barabbas P?? The crook who gets off scott-free? Whilst the AynRandian masses clap & cheer? And what does that make us dfh’s who are rending our garments off to the side of the cheering throngs?

  21. bmaz says:

    In response to EOH @33 above – Yes, and even more telling, as I started saying about the first few weeks, if DOJ was serious, they would have leveraged the probation violations already outstanding against BP in the Alaska and Texas City incidents that were already convictions that BP was on probation for. But the government would not do that, and has problems doing anything serious against the company itself here because it might trigger mandatory debarment provisions. The US government will not permit BP to be in a position of even limited debarment.

  22. harpie says:

    Dissent Continues One Year After BP Disaster; Rose Aguilar; TruthOut; 4/22/11

    […] Foytlin marked the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster by walking 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington, DC to remind the country that even though the Obama administration and BP claim that life in the Gulf is back to normal, facts on the ground prove otherwise. She says people are experiencing everything from kidney damage to skin lesions, wildlife is dying, the economic devastation continues and the ecosystem has forever been damaged. […]

    • Peterr says:

      From last Saturday right here at FDL: A Year after the BP Spill, It’s All about Access

      There’s nothing like a walk to the White House to get your blood pumping. Especially if you’re Cherri Foytlin, walking from New Orleans to DC. Especially if that walk is to bring attention to the continued suffering of Gulf Coast communities in the wake of the BP oil disaster almost a year ago. . .

      Access. From the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the Wall Street Bailouts to foreclosure fraud to . . . well, pick your disaster and the name of the game is the same: access.

      (Accountability? Not so much.)

      As it was before the BP disaster, is now, and apparently ever more shall be . . .

  23. harpie says:

    BP Is Messing With the Wrong Woman; David Swanson; Truthout; 4/22/11

    […] A year later, the U.S. Department of Justice is pretending to consider the possibility of charging BP with manslaughter for the deaths of 11 men in the explosion that started the gusher.

    […] But BP (which stands for Belching Petroleum) has made one wrong move. BP has pissed off Diane Wilson.

    To understand why this blunder could prove fatal, read Wilson’s newly published “Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth.” This is an hilariously entertaining book of an almost impossible sort. […]

  24. fatster says:


    U.S. court reinstates Blackwater Iraq shooting case

    “A U.S. federal judge erred in dismissing all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007, an appeals court ruled on Friday.”


  25. Jason Leopold says:

    Is the government looking to place most of the blame on the deaths of the rig workers on Transocean?

    Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. had serious flaws in its safety management system and a poor safety culture that contributed to last year’s deadly explosion that spawned the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, according to a Coast Guard report released Friday.

    The Coast Guard report also concludes that decisions made by workers aboard the rig “may have affected the explosions or their impact,” such as failing to follow procedures for notifying other crew members about the emergency after the blast.

    And in the years leading up to the disaster, Transocean had “serious safety management system failures and a poor safety culture,” the report said.

  26. geoshmoe says:

    Well there was Geo Herbie Walkman Bush, campaigning in the supermarket, so surprised he was that the customers had all those choices to make… corn flakes, or shredded wheat? or Cocoa Puffs, oh… the whimsey, like a little trip to Disney for the people ever time they shop, and to think the even can choose if they want paper or plastic bags!

    So, seeing how the American public is enamored of a wide range of choice, it was figured, put up a new kind of candidate, give em a… Dan Quale.

    Lord Bensen of Texas, called him up short on the debate: “well sir, I knew Jack Kennedy, and you’re no Jack Kennedy…. !”

    ” huff huff, well there’s no call for that!” [ No call for that… ] what no call for plain stated fact? He could have answered: “No of course, and your no… LBJ either, drawl on all you want, you can’t be anything but a ( something colorful, rustic, texas, rattlesnake with a shoe shine… big spending democrat… wtf… “] but give it back, move on, like kids do, it’s all bs. couldn’t fight, couldn’t spell potatoe, nice kid, paved the way for another, not especially “nice kid” waiting in the wings, drunk.

    In Quale, Bush was installing a new kind of canditate. A “beta test” of what has subsequently become the norm for the entire executive and judicial, and if it matters points south, IE: a menagerie of congress critters. ( already styled after reconstruction southern comidics. ) ie: there’s a scene in ” Birth of a Nation.” of a state senator throwing a turkey leg in session, not very good form. images are important.

    That was the straight intent of that time to ramp down the stature of the presidential office continuing a direct line of decent from Johnson on. Kennedy standing in sharp relief.
    Is it not analogous, to other martyrs, in outline, leaving aside personal and particular merit. Kennedy stood for youth and intelligence, morality, veracity, vitality, and not to leave anything out, but, all that was nixed with him which was the message.

    So if the “chimp in chief” as they dubbed the Dubya, was a disappointment, what can ya call these two with out seeming too disrespectful? (Mutt and Jeff… ?)

    So Mutt and Jeff aren’t doing much, gee I wonder… /s

  27. JohnLopresti says:

    There was a hardcopy newspaper article yesterday from Associated Press which listed more than just BP suing Transocean; it also identified Cameron as well as Halliburton as having joined in numerous recent last-minute suits which all look like construction law torts. The usual AP chameleon cyber record of the original article now available differs from the newsstand version; the now saccharined article exists in one version there. The website of the NY Times subsidiary which published the hardcopy article I read, now permits a search for the article but when the article ostensibly displays the screen segment where text would be is blank and the article has been taken off their site. I think bmaz*s posts on the incident consistently have gone beyond mere construction law torts, into labor law. One guess, of mine, is part of the benefit of the cluster of last minute suits and countersuits is to loft some flak to muddy the liability issues for the underlying personal injury and deaths.

    Further, a commentator I heard yesterday provided the worthwhile reminder of the exclusionary rules BP and govt established to keep science expeditions from knowing much data throughout, and kept scientists from sampling in many sites. There remains a blanket on much of that, from the science environment measurement perspective, even absent the essential baseline data early after the platform sank.

  28. bmaz says:

    Well, I think they are working it pretty good because the more you spread the blame around, the easier it is to explain not seeking the assignment of gross negligence.