According to O-Team press briefings, Jones Act waivers will be granted when needed. This begs a question: Why isn't there a veritable fleet of oil-recovery, -skimming and -containment vessels from the Persian Gulf, the Philippines, China and Russia already at work off U.S. shores? And it's not just the issue of foreign ships; it's also a matter of American companies' being rebuffed after offering to help.
According to Obama, "mitigating the consequences" of this disaster for the "people of the Gulf" really matters. For decades, we have known that one of the most effective pieces of equipment in reducing shoreline damage from chemical and oil spills is floating containment boom.
On May 21, both of Maine's U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, wrote Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident manager and the head of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, alerting them that miles of certified containment boom, manufactured by a company in Maine, was immediately available for overnight shipment to the Gulf Coast. Yet as of this writing, none of this critically needed boom has been shipped.
Attorney General Eric Holder's June 1 announcement that the Department of Justice will pursue criminal sanctions against BP may sound good to those who want to launch punitive expeditions, but it does nothing to stop oil from gushing from the seabed. And his promise that "every cent of taxpayer money will be repaid" from a $20 billion "escrow account" is completely without foundation because BP could be driven out of business.
Obama also used his Oval Office remarks to announce the appointment of a new head of the Minerals Management Service, the government agency responsible for regulating oil drilling and mining. One might expect the person appointed to this post to be someone possessing at least minimal technical competence. Instead, the president chose a career government attorney -- a lawyer who made his "bones" as an assistant special prosecutor in the effort to bring down President Ronald Reagan over the so-called Iran-Contra affair. Obama should be glad there are no special prosecutors looking into his actions in the "Offshore Drilling affair." Yet.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.