Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lying while destroying the Gulf economy

The inspector general's report on what the Interior Department did to push for the ban on offshore drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill is now out and makes clear that White House advisers edited the official report in order to alter the recommendation of outside experts.
In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.

“The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,” the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.
The Obama advisers are claiming that it was basically incompetence not intentional dishonesty that led them to alter the finding from the outside experts.
“There was no intent to mislead the public,” Barkoff said in a statement to POLITICO. “The decision to impose a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling was made by the secretary, following consultation with colleagues including the White House.”

A White House official said the report "only reinforces that there was no wrongdoing," noting that three experts the IG interviewed and included in the report "agreed that it was a misunderstanding."
Yes, I'm sure that there was no intent to edit the report in order to create the impression that the experts supported the government's desire for a moratorium on drilling.
“At 2:13 a.m. on May 27, 2010, Browner’s staff member sent an e-mail back to Black that contained two versions of the executive summary,” the IG report states. “Both versions sent by the staff member contained significant edits to DOI’s draft executive summary but were very similar to each other.

“Both versions, however, revised and re-ordered the executive summary, placing the peer review language immediately following the moratorium recommendation causing the distinction between the secretary’s moratorium recommendation – which had not been peer-reviewed – and the recommendations contained in the 30-Day Report – which had been peer-reviewed – to become effectively lost.”

Interior’s draft safety report discussed peer review on the second page, following a summary list of safety recommendations. As completed and eventually released, the suggestion of a moratorium immediately precedes the discussion of peer review.

Black said he didn’t have any issues with the White House edit; he and his staffer both told the IG it never occurred to them that an objective reader would conclude that peer reviewers had supported the six-month moratorium.
I guess it was just a benign coincidence that they moved the language around and created a very clear impression that the experts supported the moratorium. Browner was so concerned about the editing and presentation and yet didn't notice the effect of her edits on the meaning of the report? Please.

They lied then and workers in the Gulf lost their jobs and the economy in the area lost what may be over a billion dollars from the moratorium. They're also lying now. Their dishonesty is clear and they are to blame for the results of their actions.