by Greg Palast – Special for Buzzflash at Truthout
The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. 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 Mix––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. 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. 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. If true, it’s a crime, destruction of evidence. But Mix is a minnow. What about the sharks? The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only “SUPERVISOR” by the FBI). If “Supervisor” knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. 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. I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor’s supervisors knew and when they knew it––and didn’t tell us.
And far, far, far more important: when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let’s begin with the cover-up 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: to go after the bigger crime means going after the entire industry. 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. [If you want to get that story, please check out Part II: BP Covered Up Prior Oil Spill at Ecowatch.org.]
One point in Mr. Mix’s defense. 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. That means “Not Required Back”––and the worker is banned from the offshore rigs. No doubt, Mr. Mix thought long and hard about what would happen to his career if his texts came to light. Not an excuse for crime, but it’s a fact. It’s the guys on top putting on this kind of pressure that should be doing the perp walk: the Big Bad BP Wolves, not their mixxed-up scapegoat.
Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast
Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ 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 Britain’s Channel 4.
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.