President Obama's commission on the BP oil spill didn't spare his administration in its first four draft reports evaluating the government response to the disaster. By publicly lowballing the size of the spill for the first month, the draft reports said, "the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people." One report said the White House quashed a request from government scientists at NOAA to release a worst-case scenario. Did the Obama team try to bury the truth? (Watch an AP report about the finding)
Science lost to politics: My take on the "rather incendiary revelation" that the White House buried NOAA's worst-case scenario, says John Hinderaker at PowerLine, is that "scientists and others at NOAA wanted to let it be known that they tried to level with the public, but were blocked by President Obama's political appointees." That sounds believable, given this administration's track record.
"What did the oil commission say?"
Team Obama was slow, not dishonest: The spill was not "the administration's finest hour," says Jeffrey Kluger in Time. But it's not fair to blame it for the "random, wheel-of-fortune quality" of the initial spill estimates. When the administration stopped relying on BP and created its own flow-rate panel in May, they got it right. Perhaps it is a measure of "how comparatively well the crisis was handled" that we're already arguing over the "post-mortem."
"Oil spill report hits White House. Is it fair?"
We will see what the final report says: Government officials are certainly arguing that they "sufficiently and repeatedly warned the public about worst-case scenarios," says Josh Duboff in New York. But it's pretty damning to be criticized by your own commission. This is just a draft, but don't be shocked if "a whole bunch of White House officials will be calling in sick" on Jan. 11, when the final report is due.
"Report criticizes administration for response to oil spill"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Sex can't explain the culture war
- This simple hack for slicing cherry tomatoes will astound you
- How a drafting error could doom Obama's carbon regulations
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
Subscribe to the Week