Earlier this week, the BBC was crowing that the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling had found nothing to indicate that there was any violation of safety standards by British Petroleum leading up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform and the record breaking oil spill that resulted in the Gulf of Mexico. What the BBC didn’t report on is why the commission had found nothing: It wasn’t given the power to find anything.
Fred Bartlit, the leading investigator for the commission, has explained that he has been forced to accept the assertions of BP officials at face value, because he doesn’t have any subpoena power to compel testimony under oath. “Because I don’t have subpoena power, I have to look you in the eye and say I’m telling you what people told me. I can’t subpoena people and put them under oath. I wish I could. I think it’s damned important, but it’s the way it goes,” Bartlit said.
So, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling turns out to be little more than a commission to repeat what BP says about its own role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In other words, it’s a sham.