by Greg Palast â€“ Special for Buzzflash at Truthout
The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. Â More like a scape-kid, really.
Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.
I once ran a Justice Department racketeering case and damned if I would have ‘cuffed some poor schmuck like Mixâ€“â€“especially when there’s hot, smoking guns showing greater crimes by BP higher ups.
Last week, I released evidence we uncovered that BP top executives concealed evidence of a prior blow-out. Â Had they not covered up the 2008 blow-out in then Caspian Sea, then the Deepwater Horizon probably would not have blown out two years later in 2010. [Watch the film and read the stories.]
I urge you to read the affidavit of FBI agent Barbara O’Donnell which the government filed in arresting Mix. Â His crime is deleting texts from his phone indicating that the blown-out Macondo well was gushing over 15,000 barrels of oil a day, not 5,000 as BP told the public and government. Â If true, it’s a crime, destruction of evidence. Â But Mix is a minnow. Â What about the sharks? Â The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only “SUPERVISOR” by the FBI). Â If “Supervisor” knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. Â Presumably, even CEO Tony Hayward would have gotten the message on his racing yacht.
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Destruction of evidence is not nice, but concealment of evidence and fraud by corporate bigs, is the bigger crime. Â I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor’s supervisors knew and when they knew itâ€“â€“and didn’t tell us.
And far, far, far more important: Â when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let’s begin with the cover-upÂ before the spill that the drilling methods used on the Deepwater Horizon had led to a blow-out nearly two years earlier.
Let’s face it: Â to go after the bigger crime means going after the entire industry. Â The earlier blow-out was concealed by BP as well as its partners Exxon and Chevron and, by the US State Department under Condoleezza Rice. Â [If you want to get that story, please check out Part II: Â BP Covered Up Prior Oil Spill at Ecowatch.org.]
One point in Mr. Mix’s defense. Â During my investigation of the Deepwater Horizon, I found that employees who provide evidence against BP find their careers floating face down in the Gulf.
BP and other oil companies punish troublemakers by writing “NRB” on their record. Â That means “Not Required Back”â€“â€“and the worker is banned from the offshore rigs. Â No doubt, Mr. Mix thought long and hard about what would happen to his career if his texts came to light. Â Not an excuse for crime, but it’s a fact. Â It’s the guys on top putting on this kind of pressure that should be doing the perp walk: Â the Big Bad BP Wolves, not their mixxed-up scapegoat.
Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast
Greg Palast is the author of Vulturesâ€™ Picnic, which centers on his investigation of BP, bribery and corruption in the oil industry. Palast’s, reports can be seen on BBC-TV and Britainâ€™s Channel 4.
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.