Friday, January 12, 2007

Independent Panel Needed to Investigate Gulf Coast Chemical Explosion but Not White House Implosion

James Baker heads another independent panel looking to get to the bottom of a disaster. No, it’s not the Iraqi Study Group working on the disaster that is Iraq. The ex-Secretary of State was commissioned by British Petroleum to investigate the explosion at its Texas City plant at the insistence of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazards Investigation Board.

One might think the government agency would conduct the investigation but instead had BP contract it out. At least BP didn’t get to investigate itself post explosion. That likely would not have turned up an honest assessment.

Guess who did get to conduct an internal investigation into its disastrous response post Hurricane Katrina? Yep, the White House did shine the magnifying glass on itself. Under the bright light of day Frances Townsend aimed the lens away, which explains why they were able to see so little. The hospital with the largest patient death toll got not one mention in the Bush tome. LifeCare Hospitals’ corporate papa, The Carlyle Group sits just blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. How did their 24 deaths not warrant inclusion in the final report?

James Baker looks to hold BP accountable, while the White House calls Katrina “an unprecedented disaster”. Will the company be happy if the Baker report comes back with “it was an unprecedented explosion”?

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