New Report Details Obama Administration’s Editing of Scientific Report on Oil Spill and Misleading Statements By Carol Browner

Another report (this time from the Inspector General’s Office of the Interior Department) has been published detailing the Obama Administration’s editing of a scientific report to downplay the damage caused by the BP oil spill. The new information also reaffirms the clearly misleading statements made by Obama’s energy adviser, Carol Browner — an issue previously discussed on this blog.

Federal investigators joined scientists in criticizing Browner and the Obama Administration for downplaying and misrepresenting data and expert opinion. The Administration has made clear that it intends to resume Obama’s controversial plan to drill for oil off pristine areas of our East Coast. As the resumption of drilling was being discussed, Browner became the most vocal official downplaying the damage of the spill and even suggesting that its study found the oil had effectively disappeared.

Jane Lubchenco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was also singled out for misleading statements to the public.

Once again, there has been relatively little criticism on the blogs and other sites — a sharp difference from the treatment of such allegations under the Bush Administration.

Source: Yahoo

40 thoughts on “New Report Details Obama Administration’s Editing of Scientific Report on Oil Spill and Misleading Statements By Carol Browner”

  1. It really isn’t okay to downplay the severity of the problem, but the reason for not being as critical with the Obama Administration is probably the feeling that they were taking corrective actions, like halting the drilling, in an attempt to see what regs. needed to be enforced or added to keep from having future spills. They also had BP’s compensation agreement. None of these kinds of actions would have happened under Bush, and therefore the more critical attacks were justified.

    I don’t see the news media being lax or protective of the Obama Administration, but I also see Obama straddling the fence always.

  2. Well then send me a lawyer. My claims under the Privacy Act e(4), e(11),e(7), e(9) and e(10) are tolled under g(1)(5) because DOJ wrote on 06/01/09 that the USMS systems were exempt from those sections. Actually they aren’t but DOJ used that to avoid discovery. The Privacy Act authorizes separate payment of attorney bills not as part of the plaintiffs’ judgment.

    You don’t think that a lawyer could be imprisoned without a criminal charge or an arraignment for a long period of time? What about Howard Fine? He was for I think 18 months and he was a former assistant U.S. Attorney.

  3. kay,

    While not impossible that an attorney could have met your outcome, I still think it unlikely. The pitfalls you encountered would have and could have been avoided with proper counsel.

  4. That is just not true that no one is above the law. Why isn’t this prosecuted 18 USC section 1512 witness intimidation?

    “If you fail to withdraw those lawsuits, the next time you’re in this court you better be prepared with your toothbrush, because you are going to jail.”. 9/02/05

    “I’ve checked with the District of Columbia clerks. Two cases have not been dismissed – have not been dismissed at all, with or without prejudice …. Are the defendants suggesting that the plaintiff be jailed until she purges herself of contempt or are they suggesting that I give her an additional period of time to accomplish this dismissal? …. I now have access to the database in Kansas and the District of Columbia. And I will check out and make sure that you have dismissed all of those cases…. So you’ll stay out of jail if all of these cases are dismissed in time for me to vacate the hearing. Otherwise the next time you show up, you pack your toothbrush, because you’re going to jail.” 2/14/06

    “She knows she’s not to pursue these lawsuits. And for her to suggest that I told her to dismiss the lawsuits and that does not cover her appeals from those lawsuits is silly, and you may convey that to her. So that if she wishes, she might dismiss everything before the marshals get to her, because it will – the marshals won’t be there this afternoon, but I guarantee they will be there sometime next week. And once she’s in custody, you may also tell her that she will not get out of custody until those are actually dismissed. The last time she was here I let her out on a promise that she was going to dismiss them. This time she will be in until they are done.” 9/22/06

    “Mr. Lettunich reported his work on the following: 1. The Federal District Court held a contempt hearing regarding Kay Sieverding. She refused to dismiss the cases that she filed and was arrested. Mr. Sieverding dismissed the cases but later reneged and said he will not dismiss the cases; so he may be arrested as well.”

    Bil,I think now that what happened to me could have happened to a lawyer as well.

  5. But an admission to ordering torture in print is worth one Bush in prison . . . if Eric Holder isn’t a total spineless wuss. Speaking of which, here’s the text of a letter the ACLU sent the spineless wuss today regarding our criminal former President (no mention of the current criminal President):

    “Dear Attorney General Holder:

    The American Civil Liberties Union respectfully urges you to refer to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham the question of whether former president George W. Bush’s conduct related to the interrogation of detainees by the United States violated the anti-torture statute. See 18 U.S.C. § 2340A.

    In his recently published memoirs, President Bush discusses his authorization of the waterboarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah. He states, for example, that he “approved the use of the [enhanced] interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, on Abu Zubaydah, and that he responded to a request to waterboard Khalid Sheik Mohammed by stating: “Damn right.” George W. Bush, Decision Points 169-70 (2010).

    The Department of Justice has made clear that waterboarding is torture and, as such, a crime under the federal anti-torture statute. 18 U.S.C. § 2340A(c). The United States has historically prosecuted waterboarding as a crime. In light of the admission by the former President, and the legally correct determination by the Department of Justice that waterboarding is a crime, you should ensure that Mr. Durham’s current investigation into detainee interrogations encompasses the conduct and decisions of former President Bush.
    The ACLU acknowledges the significance of this request, but it bears emphasis that the former President’s acknowledgement that he authorized torture is absolutely without parallel in American history. The admission cannot be ignored. In our system, no one is above the law or beyond its reach, not even a former president. That founding principle of our democracy would mean little if it were ignored with respect to those in whom the public most invests its trust. It would also be profoundly unfair for Mr. Durham to focus his inquiry on low-level officials charged with implementing official policy but to ignore the role of those who authorized or ordered the use of torture.

    Failure to fully investigate the role of the former President in the use of torture would also severely compromise our ability to advocate for human rights in other countries. The United States has been a champion of that cause for over half a century. Recently, while in Indonesia, President Obama urged that country to acknowledge the human rights abuses of the Suharto regime. He stated unequivocally that “[w]e can’t go forward without looking backwards.” Without suggesting that our own experience is equivalent, it is clear that the United States’s authority to push for such accountability in other countries, and the willingness of those countries to follow our advice, would quickly unravel if we failed even to investigate abuses authorized by our own officials.

    The ACLU understands the gravity of this matter and appreciates the difficulty of the Department of Justice’s task. A nation committed to the rule of law, however, cannot simply ignore evidence that its most senior leaders authorized torture.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter. For your convenience, I am attaching the ACLU’s letter of March 17, 2009, in which we asked you to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate crimes relating to the abuse of detainees.


    Anthony D. Romero “

  6. JT: “Once again, there has been relatively little criticism on the blogs and other sites — a sharp difference from the treatment of such allegations under the Bush Administration.”

    Because the left is as morally bankrupt as the right.

  7. Maybe Interiors’ inspectors are like those who work for the USMS —

    According to the USDOJ Office of Inspector General, the United States Marshals Service internal disciplinary program is overstaffed and under burdened, leading to long delays in misconduct investigations. From fiscal year (FY) 2004 to FY 2009, USMS Office of Internal Investigation, OII, did not meet its 90-day standard for completing misconduct investigations in 51 percent (499) of the cases it closed. OII had only three of its seven investigator positions filled. OII is under-resourced, has lower-graded investigator positions, and lacks adequate administrative and analytic support. The USMS OII has not been fully staffed since 2002 and has been
    severely understaffed for at least 3 years. As a result, from FY 2004 to FY 2009, the majority of OII’s misconduct investigations were not completed in accord with the USMS timely standards. When we compared OII to other Department agencies’ internal investigations offices, we found that OII’s investigators have caseloads three to five times larger than the other agencies’ investigators.

    Is there a similar report by the OIG at Interior?

  8. There are something like 78 million baby boomers between 42 and 60, the preferred age of government policy makers and almost 29 million have a bachelors degree or higher. In 2005 there were only 1. 4 million full time permanent federal civilian employees of which less than half were college graduates. Only 17% of full time permanent federal civil employees have graduate degrees and there are only 268 thousand professional general schedule employees. So if we fired 100% of all government employees, not saying we should, we have enough college and advanced degree program graduates to replace all of them.

  9. Two things:

    The problem with politicizing science is that reality doesn’t really change based on what you say about it.

    I think it’s a good sign that we found out about this from a branch of the Federal government instead of an investigative reporter.

  10. I know about other misrepresentations of the government in recent years. One of them has to do with DOJ’s Data Integrity Board. That is required by the Privacy Act, it is really detailed about the composition of the board and reports it has to make. In my pro se lawsuit Sieverding v. DOJ I filed a motion to get a copy of the reports and DOJ opposed it. Then last month they wrote and said they had a board in 2006 and it issued a report. Under the APA there is supposed to be advance published notice of all meetings even when closed and there is supposed to be a published record of the meetings and that is all supposed to be on the Internet. The Department of Homeland Security publishes the minutes of the full committee meetings of the DHS Data Integrity Board but DOJ does not. Stuart Frisch is the secretary.

    Also in my lawsuit I claimed an e(7) violation of the Prison Tracking System because DOJ used “5005” and non criminal “contempt” and “civil contempt” in the fields for offense even though records of civil contempt aren’t listed in the Federal Register Publications as to the information included in the system. In their motion to dismiss, DOJ claimed that e(7) compliance can be excluded from the Prisoner Tracking System but that isn’t true it can’t be excluded from any system. They knew I was pro se when they wrote that. DOJ published the categories of information to be included in the USMS Prisoner Tracking System and it doesn’t include civil contempt records. They also claimed to be exempt from the e(4) requirements for advance notice of authorized uses — such as jailing pro se litigants or lawyers for the purpose of affecting the outcome of civil lawsuits but there is no exceptions for that. When BOP has long term prisoners it is very detailed about what information it keeps on them and why and everything is published in the federal register. So DOJ lied to me in my pro se lawsuit which you might not think is important but still is a legal act and provides precedent for extra judicial incarcerations.

    Also under the APA the policy under which all lawsuits that DOJ settles is supposed to be published if it isn’t in PACER but DOJ does not acknowledge why it paid Dr. Hatfill $5.8 million and actually publishes in their 186 page report on their major accomplishments in 2001-2009 that his case was dismissed without acknowledging that they paid him but the settlement agreement and court papers don’t say which or all of the 5 claims in his amended complaint made them decide to pay him.

  11. Compromising one’s principles while one political party holds power on the grounds that the other party is much worst really doesn’t hold anything principles at all. We have seen over and over the past the past two years. I agree, if W was still in office the blogosphere would be ablaze with this environmental accident waiting to happen. This willingness or sub-conscience ability to see things through a different lens whenever convenient is what makes most of our political discourse a joke.

  12. Dr. Sylvia Earle on PBS News Hour (May 2010)–Earle is an oceanographer and Explorer-in-Residence with National Geographic.

  13. Just remember that President Palin or President Huckabee would put an end to the practice of putting political pressure on/politically editing scientists and experts …. by firing all of them on the first day.

    can you tell how much I’m looking forward to the 2012 election season? yipeee.

    Anyone in the Obama administration who thinks that “reasonable compromise” (like, arguably, expanding offshore drilling) will win over the current under/mis-informed, freaked-out, racist American electorate, with totally disingenuous Republican propagandists smearing away every day, is a fool.

  14. Well, maybe Jeb will run, and we will have another Bush administration to criticize. W wants him to take on Palin in the primaries. Looks like someone is complaining we are not criticizing the democrats enough. Last week some of us were criticized for not respecting Bachmann.

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