Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Even When It's Not Out of Sight)
August 09, 2010, truthout
By Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld | Dahr Jamail's
Dispatches | Report
Since BP announced that CEO Tony Hayward would receive a
multi-million dollar golden parachute and be replaced by Bob
Dudley, we have witnessed an incredibly broad, and powerful,
propaganda campaign. A campaign that peaked this week with
the US government, clearly acting in BP's best interests,
itself announcing, via outlets willing to allow themselves to
be used to transfer the propaganda, like the New York Times,
this message: 'The government is expected to announce on
Wednesday that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater
Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured
or otherwise eliminated - and that much of the rest is so
diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of
The Times was accommodating enough to lead the story with a
nice photo of a fishing boat motoring across clean water with
several birds in the foreground.
This message was disseminated far and wide, via other
mainstream media outlets like the AP and Reuters, effectively
announcing to the masses that despite the Gulf of Mexico
suffering the largest marine oil disaster in US history, most
of the oil was simply 'gone.'
Thus, it's only what is on the surface that counts. If you
can't see it, there is not a problem.
This kind of government cover-up is nothing new, of course.
'It is well known that after the Chernobyl accident, the
Soviet government immediately did everything possible to
conceal the fact of the accident and its consequences for the
population and the environment: it issued 'top secret'
instructions to classify all data on the accident, especially
as regards the health of the affected population,' journalist
Alla Yaroshinskaya has written.
In 1990 Yaroshinskaya came across documents about the
Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe that revealed a massive state
cover-up operation, coupled with a calculated policy of
disinformation where the then Soviet Union's state and party
leadership knowingly played down the extent of the
contamination and offered a sanitized version to the public,
both in and out of Russia. To date, studies continue to show
ongoing human and environmental damage from that disaster.
When the disaster at Chernobyl occurred, it was only after
radiation levels triggered alarms at the Forsmark Nuclear
Power Plant in Sweden that the Soviet Union admitted an
accident had even occurred. Even then, government authorities
immediately began to attempt to conceal the scale of the
In late April, after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and
sank into the depths and the Macondo well began gushing oil,
BP and the complicit Coast Guard announced no oil was being
released.The Gulf Restoration Network flew out to the scene
and saw massive amounts of oil and sounded the alarm, which
forced BP and the US government to admit there was, indeed,
oil. Such has the trend of BP/US Government lying, countered
by (sometimes) forced accountability, then to more lying,
These most recent, and most blatant of the BP/US Government
propaganda gems are easily undermined by countless facts.
Reality and truth always, given time, find a way to
surface - just like BP's dispersed oil.
Two captains of so-called 'vessels of opportunity' helping
with the cleanup recently told Times-Picayune reporter Bob
Marshall that they saw more oil at South Pass on Tuesday than
they have during the entire crisis.
'I don't know where everyone else is looking, but if they
think there's no more oil out there, they should take a ride
with me,' charter captain Mike Frenette said.
Another captain, Don Sutton, saw floating tar balls for 15
miles from South Pass to Southwest Pass. 'And that wasn't all
we saw. There were patches of oil in that chocolate mousse
stuff, slicks and patches of grass with oil on them," he
Yesterday I spoke with Clint Guidry, a Louisiana fisherman
who is on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Shrimp
Association and the Shrimp Harvester Representative on the
Louisiana Shrimp Task Force created by Executive Order of
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
'Right now, there is more oil in Barataria Bay than there has
been since this whole thing started on April 20,' Guidry told
BP oil is now turning up under the shells of post-larval blue
crabs all across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Nearly all the
crab larvae collected to date by researchers, from Grand
Isle, Louisiana all the way over to Pensacola, Florida, have
oil under their shells. Further analysis is showing that the
crabs likely also contain BP's Corexit dispersant.
On August 5th it was reported that a pair of fishermen in
Mississippi 'made an alarming discovery that has many
wondering what's happening below the surface' of the Gulf of
Mexico. They found several full-sized crabs filled with oil.
In Hancock County, Mississippi, Brian Adam, the EMA director,
reported, 'We're still seeing tar balls everyday, and I'm not
talking just a few tar balls. We're seeing a good amount
everyday on the beaches.'
According to Adam, a rock jetty near Waveland became covered
in one thousand pounds of tar balls in only three days time.
Keith Ladner, owner of Gulf Shores Sea Products and a
longtime supplier of seafood, said this of some full-sized
crabs he found near the mouth of Bay St. Louis: 'You could
tell it was real slick and dark in color so I grabbed it, and
opened the back of the crab, and you could see in the ‘dead
man' or the lungs of the crabs - you could see the black.'
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
report from Wednesday claims that 33 percent of BP's oil in
the Gulf has been either burned, skimmed, dispersed, or
directly recovered by cleanup operations. NOAA goes on to
claim that another 25 percent has evaporated into the
atmosphere or dissolved in the water, and another 16 percent
has been naturally dispersed. Of the remaining 26 percent,
NOAA claims that amount is either washed ashore, been
collected from beaches, is buried along the coasts, or is
still on or just below the surface.
University of South Florida chemical oceanographer David
Hollander says these estimates are 'ludicrous.' Of the NOAA
report, Hollander says, 'It's almost comical.'
Other scientists also immediately expressed their doubts of
the validity of the NOAA report, while toxicologists expect
to be busy tracking the effects of BP's toxic dispersants
Giant plumes of BP's sub-surface dispersed oil are floating
around the Gulf of Mexico, as confirmed recently by
researchers from the University of South Florida.
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It was also recently revealed that the worst dead zone in 25
years has been recorded in Gulf of Mexico waters. Of course
it's likely a given that this is due to BP's liberal use of
'To judge from most media coverage, the beaches are open, the
fishing restrictions being lifted and the Gulf resorts open
for business in a healthy, safe environment,' environmental
activist Jerry Cope wrote recently, 'We, along with Pierre
LeBlanc, spent the last few weeks along the Gulf coast from
Louisiana to Florida, and the reality is distinctly
different. The coastal communities of Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama, and Florida have been inundated by the oil and toxic
dispersant Corexit 9500, and the entire region is
contaminated. The once pristine white beaches that have been
subject to intense cleaning operations now contain the
oil/dispersant contamination to an unknown depth. The
economic impacts potentially exceed even the devastation of a
major hurricane like Katrina, the adverse impacts on health
and welfare of human populations are increasing every minute
of every day and the long-term effects are potentially life
'In May, Mother Nature Network blogger Karl Burkart received
a tip from an anonymous fisherman-turned-BP contractor in the
form of a distressed text message, describing a near-
apocalyptic sight near the location of the sunken Deepwater
Horizon - fish, dolphins, rays, squid, whales, and thousands
of birds - 'as far as the eye can see,' dead and dying.
According to his statement, which was later confirmed by
another report from an individual working in the Gulf, whale
carcasses were being shipped to a highly guarded location
where they were processed for disposal.'
'Local fisherman in Alabama report sighting tremendous
numbers of dolphins, sharks, and fish moving in towards shore
as the initial waves of oil and dispersant approached in
June. Many third- and fourth-generation fishermen declared
emphatically that they had never seen or heard of any similar
event in the past. Scores of animals were fleeing the leading
edge of toxic dispersant mixed with oil. Those not either
caught in the toxic mixture and killed out at sea, or
fortunate enough to be out in safe water beyond the Source,
died as the water closed in, and they were left no safe
harbor. The numbers of birds, fish, turtles, and mammals
killed by the use of Corexit will never be known as the
evidence strongly suggests that BP worked with the Coast
Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA, private
security contractors, and local law enforcement, all of which
cooperated to conceal the operations disposing of the animals
from the media and the public.'
Cope added, 'The Gulf of Mexico from the Source into the
shore is a giant kill zone.'
Earlier this week, marine biologist, toxicologist and Exxon
Valdez survivor Dr. Riki Ott took a flight over southern
Louisiana. Here's some of what she wrote about it:
'Bay Jimmy on the northeast side of Barataria Bay was full of
oil. So was Bay Baptiste, Lake Grande Ecaille, and Billet
Bay. Sitting next to me was Mike Roberts, a shrimper with
Louisiana Bayoukeepers, who has grown up in this area. His
voice crackled over the headset as I strained to hold the
window. 'I've fished in all these waters - everywhere you can
see. It's all oiled. This is the worst I've seen. This is a
'We followed thick streamers of black oil and ribbons of
rainbow sheen from Bay Baptiste and Bay Jimmy south across
Barataria Bay through Four Bayou Pass and into the Gulf of
Mexico. The ocean's smooth surface glinted like molten lead
in the late afternoon sun. Oil. As far as we could see: Oil.'
'When we landed after our 2-hour flight, our pilot told us
that she sometimes has to wipe an oily reddish film off the
leading edges of her plane's wings after flying over the
Gulf. Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathem documented similar
oily films on planes he chartered for Gulf over-flights.
Bonnie doesn't wear gloves when she wipes her plane. She
showed me her hands - red rash, blisters, and peeling palms.
If peeling palms are an indication of the oil-solvent stew,
the reddish film on Bonnie's plane and others means that the
stew is not only in the Gulf, it is in the rain clouds above
the Gulf. And in the middle of hurricane season, this means
the oil-solvent mix could rain down anywhere across the
Dean Blanchard, one of the most important seafood purchasers
in Louisiana, recently attended a Town Hall Meeting with a BP
representative in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
In the meeting, Blanchard stands up and addresses the BP
representative at length.
'Ya'll didn't give me enough money to pay my bills. I can
show you. For the electric bill and everything. What I've
collected from BP, so far since this started, is less than
what I paid out in bills. And I've cut my things down to rock
bottom. But how do you expect a man to live on less than 10
percent of what I was projected to make? I don't believe
there's anybody in this country who could pay their bills
with just 10 percent of their check. We borrowed money
preparing for shrimping season and this happened at the worst
Blanchard added, 'I ain't got no job, and no money, and Mr.
Hayward gets $18 million and a new job. That's hard to take.
Let me tell you. Very, very hard to take.'
I should point out that from my first days Louisiana, I've
been hearing from fishermen working on BP's clean-up
operations that BP is using night flights to drop dispersant
on oiled bays. I've seen video taken by fishermen of a white-
foamy substance in the marsh the morning after these flights
Blanchard went on to say that he felt that BP did not want to
clean up the oil, that it was more cost effective for them to
leave it in the water than to clean it up, and then mocked
the preposterous government claim that most of the oil is
gone because you cannot see it from the air.
The BP rep, Jason, clearly nervous, later responds by saying,
'We are doing over-flights, our task forces are looking for
oil each day. We have a communications room where they are
able to call in sightings of oil, from the boats, from the
task forces. There is - I understand the anger and I
understand the frustration. A couple of things that Dean said
I have to take exception to. We do want to clean up this oil.
I can understand frustration. I can understand seeing certain
people getting certain amounts of money and some of the
things that people see. But someone is going to have to
explain to me why BP would not want to clean up this oil.'
Blanchard had clearly heard enough of BP's propaganda. To the
representatives' request to have someone explain to him why
BP would not want to clean up the oil, Blanchard angrily
'Because it's more cost effective for ya'll to come at night
and sink the son-of-a-bitch! When the oil's coming around,
they call ya'll, they tell ya'll where the oil's at, and the
first thing ya'll do is tell them to go the other way, ya'll
send the planes, and ya'll fucking sink it! [Spray
dispersants from the air] That's what ya'll are doing, come
on man!' He sits back down angrily. 'Let's quit playing over
here and tell the truth. Ya'll are sinking the oil, Jason!
You know ya'll are sinking it. You know what ya'll are doing.
Ya'll are sending all the boats, you're putting them all in a
group at night, we all hear the planes, and the next morning
there's nothing but white bubbles! What do you think, we're
stupid? We're not stupid! Ya'll are putting the oil on the
bottom of my fishing grounds! Ya'll not only messing me up
now, ya'll are messing me up for the rest of my life! I ain't
gonna live long enough to buy anymore shrimp!'
The lives of Gulf coast fishermen and residents are being
destroyed. Scientists, environmentalists, and toxicologists
are describing the Gulf of Mexico as a growing dead zone, a
kill zone, and an energy sacrifice zone. As you read this,
oil is everywhere around southeastern Louisiana, and
continually washing ashore in Alabama and Mississippi.
Meanwhile, Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer,
announced Friday that the company may not give up on its
claims on the Macondo well. 'There's lots of oil and gas
here,' he said, 'We're going to have to think about what to
do with that at some point.'
Of this, Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish President Craig
Taffaro said it's no secret that BP wants to drill again. In
fact, he said, it has been part of his conversations with BP
since the oil crisis began.
Let us be clear about who, and what, we are dealing with
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