BP's communication with the public over the course of the oil spill disaster hasn't exactly been the most forthcoming, but newly surfaced documents and video footage from the onset of the crisis indicate it's not alone in that: The company, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Obama Administration all deliberately obscured the true seriousness of the situation from the country.
In damning video footage suppressed for 20 days but obtained this week by ABC News, three separate leaks can be clearly seen pouring oil in the first few days after the explosion of Deepwater Horizon on April 20.
Meanwhile, a single still image of a single pipe leaking much less oil was released to the public on May 1.
Two days later, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Mary Landry said in a press conference that she would "caution you not to get fixated on an estimate of how much [oil] is out there." U.S. Director of Homeland Security Janet Neopolitano seconded this stance, telling CNN: "This fixation on the number of barrels is a little bit misleading."
Yet on April 21, just a day after the rig exploded, the Coast Guard had already arrived at its own staggering numeric estimate of how much oil could be leaking into the gulf.
According to official logs obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, the Coast Guard wrote: "Potential environmental threat is 700,000 gallons of diesel on board the Deepwater Horizon and estimated potential of 8,000 barrels per day of crude oil, if the well were to completely blowout."
But on that date, the White House official timeline of the crisis lists "No Apparent Leak." That status does not change until April 24, when it records "First Oil Leaks Discovered," and notes approximately 40,000 gallons of oil recovered.
Compare that to CPI's timeline of the crisis response:
Acccording to CPI, "Coast Guard officials declined to comment about the logs. Officials from the Homeland Security Department did not respond to phone calls and email messages."
In response to this news, late last night, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) the leading Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released additional Coast Guard estimates and made a statement criticizing the agency and the Obama Administration for their response.
"These documents raise new questions about whether the White House was slow to respond to an incident that was quickly recognized by the Coast Guard as a potentially catastrophic threat to the environment," Issa said. "It appears as if this administration would rather tell a half-truth if the full-truth doesn't fit the story they want to tell."
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