May 26th, 2010
09:08 PM ET
4 years ago

'This did not have to happen,' Stupak says of oil spill


Washington (CNN) – A Democrat leading congressional hearings into the causes of the Gulf oil spill said Wednesday that the catastrophe could have been avoided if the companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had heeded a series of warning signs in the hours leading up to the rig's explosion. And Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, also said that many of the federal regulatory agencies charged with protecting the public have been "devastated" due to a lack of funding during the Bush administration.

Stupak sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Stupak's subcommittee issued a report Tuesday that detailed a number of warning signs missed by rig operators prior to its explosion on the night of April 20.

Related: Signs of trouble evident before explosion, report says

"Two hours out [from the explosion], the fundamental flaw was made," the Michigan Democrat said on CNN's John King, USA. At that point, when gas and fluid began to spurt out of the well in an indication that pressure was building, "you should have started shutting things down," said Stupak. "They didn't. They moved forward."

Asked about apparent similarities between the lack of federal regulatory oversight in this case and in recent mining tragedies, Stupak told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that federal agencies do not have the resources they need to engage in adequate regulation.

"These regulatory agencies – and I'm not being partisan here, but - in the last administration were devastated. People were laid off. People were let go. They were down to skeleton crews. They cut corners. The didn't have experts who knew – whether it was NHTSA or the Minerals Management Service."
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Filed under: Bart Stupak • Energy • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts
May 26th, 2010
08:40 PM ET
4 years ago

Carville: Obama needs to tell BP 'I'm your daddy'

Washington (CNN) - Just hours after completing a tour of oil soaked wetlands on the Louisiana coast, Democratic strategist James Carville blasted the Obama administration for its response to what he calls "a disaster of the first magnitude."

"The chairman of BP said that BP was a big important company and the United States was a big important country…BP is not the equal of the United States government," Carville told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "And this president needs to tell BP: I'm your daddy, I'm in charge. You're going to do what we say."

Joined by his wife and fellow CNN contributor Mary Matalin, an emotional Carville stressed the urgency of the situation. "We need some action here, and we need to get this thing moving very quickly," Carville said Wednesday on CNN's John King, USA.

Asked by King whether the disaster response has become a question of presidential accountability, Carville suggested that Washington lobbyists hired by BP were influencing the administration's response to the spill. "They've [BP] hired everything that walks in Washington," the Louisiana native said.

But Carville, a staunch supporter of President Obama, said he is still optimistic that the federal response will change after Obama visits the Gulf Coast later this week.

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Filed under: Energy • James Carville • JKUSA • John King USA • Louisiana • Mary Matalin • Popular Posts
May 26th, 2010
08:36 PM ET
4 years ago

Four get probation, fines for falsely entering senator's office

(CNN) - Conservative videographer James O'Keefe and three co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday for entering federal property under false pretenses for a January incident in which they tried to access the phone system in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu.

O'Keefe, 25, and co-defendants Joseph Basel, 24, Robert Flanagan, 24, and Stan Dai, 25, were each fined $1,500, placed on probation and ordered to do community service, according to a Department of Justice statement.

The four were arrested in January after Basel and Flanagan posed as telephone repair workers to get into Landrieu's office.
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Filed under: ACORN • James O'Keefe
May 26th, 2010
07:36 PM ET
4 years ago

Plaquemines Parish president blasts federal response to oil spill

Venice, Louisiana - Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser on Wednesday blasted the federal government's response to the oil spill that has fouled more than 100 miles of the state's coast, and called for its point man to step aside.

"Thad Allen should resign," Nungesser told CNN, referring to the U.S. Coast Guard admiral who has been leading the government's effort. "He's done absolutely nothing. He's an embarrassment to this country."

Nungesser, who had just completed a tour of the stricken area, bemoaned what he had seen. "The same oil that's been out there two weeks ago is still out there, and nothing is being done," he said. "The marsh is dying. It's dead."

He said the Coast Guard should demand that BP begin cleanup efforts immediately. "They had no plan to keep the oil out, even though they said it wouldn't come ashore," he said. "They had no plan to clean it up. They have no plan to make the fishermen whole. It's like it's being run with a bunch of seventh-graders. This is absolutely ridiculous."


Filed under: Louisiana • Obama administration
May 26th, 2010
05:28 PM ET
4 years ago

Conservative group: DADT repeal will increase 'homosexual misconduct'

A prominent conservative group is warning against a change in the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.
A prominent conservative group is warning against a change in the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.

Washington (CNN) - As lawmakers consider a compromise plan to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," a prominent conservative group is arguing that overturning the policy against gays in the military will increase "homosexual misconduct" - even "sexual bullying, male rape, and forcible sodomy" – in the armed services.

On Wednesday, the Family Research Council held a conference call with reporters featuring retired military leaders and officials from the conservative group.

Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg argued that publicly available information from the Pentagon on sexual assaults in the military, along with other information, proves that the military currently has a problem with "homosexual misconduct."

"Homosexuals in the military are three times more likely to commit sexual assaults than heterosexuals are, relative to their numbers," Sprigg said. "We believe this problem would only increase if the current law against homosexuality in the military, which was enacted in 1993, were to be repealed."

FULL POST

May 26th, 2010
04:10 PM ET
4 years ago

Salazar: U.S. doing all it can on oil spill

New York (CNNMoney.com) – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reiterated Wednesday that the U.S. government is doing all it can to put an end to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and to enforce ethics requirements in the federal agency responsible for inspecting oil wells.

He also reiterated that the oil spill is causing President Obama to consider adjustments to his plan to open exploration wells for drilling in the Arctic.

The Interior Department faced criticism in a hearing before Congress Wednesday, two days after an inspector general report showed Minerals Management Service (MMS) inspectors took gifts from big oil companies, watched pornography and used crystal meth at work.

But in the hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee, Salazar said he believes most of the bureau's 1,700 employees are "good public servants" and abide by ethics requirements put in place by the Obama administration. He said the department has "zero tolerance" for the ethical lapses, which he also called "reprehensible" and even "criminal."

Full story


Filed under: Energy • Ken Salazar
May 26th, 2010
04:04 PM ET
4 years ago

Cheney picks a side in South Carolina governor's race

Dick Cheney has weighed in on another 2010 primary.
Dick Cheney has weighed in on another 2010 primary.

(CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney is picking a side in yet another contested Republican primary, this time endorsing Rep. Gresham Barrett in his bid for South Carolina governor.

Cheney weighed in to defend Barrett's biggest liability in the four-way GOP primary - his vote in favor of the 2008 Wall Street bailout.

"I'm certain Gresham knew his vote in support of President Bush and our plan wouldn't be popular, but he did something far too novel in American politics today: He put the interests of his country ahead of his own," Cheney said. "That's why voters should not believe the false attacks from his opponents.

The TARP vote has dogged Barrett from the early days of the race: He was booed mercilessly for his vote at a Greenville Tea Party rally last summer and video of the event quickly went viral.

Cheney added: "When it was time to make decisions and show leadership, Gresham stepped up while they all stayed silent and ducked for cover. That may make for good politics today, but it certainly isn't leadership."

For the third time this election season, the former Vice President has found himself opposite Sarah Palin, who is supporting state Rep. Nikki Haley in the primary.

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Filed under: 2010 • Dick Cheney • Gresham Barrett • South Carolina
May 26th, 2010
03:30 PM ET
4 years ago

Rand Paul replaces campaign manager

Rand Paul replaced his campaign manager on Wednesday.
Rand Paul replaced his campaign manager on Wednesday.

(CNN) – Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul is replacing his campaign manager as he looks to pivot to the general election and move past a series of damaging public statements about civil rights.

David Adams, a former blogger who managed Paul's grassroots campaign through his Republican primary win last Tuesday, will now serve in the role of "Campaign Chairman."

Jesse Benton, until now the campaign's top consultant, will assume the title of Campaign Manager. Benton was the communications director for Paul's father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, during the 2008 Presidential campaign. He is also married to Ron Paul's granddaughter.

Adams hinted at the re-shuffling earlier Wednesday on his Twitter account, writing that he "expects to outlive rumors of my imminent demise."

Benton stressed that the move was not a "shakeup" and said Adams will remain the campaign's "top liason to donors and the grassroots" along with being "a top surrogate" for the candidate. Benton will manage the "nuts and bolts" of the campaign, he said, with "a focus on strategy and messaging."

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Filed under: 2010 • Kentucky • Rand Paul
May 26th, 2010
03:29 PM ET
4 years ago

Seven GOP Senators demand Sestak investigation

The seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday demanding he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations raised by Rep. Joe Sestak.
The seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday demanding he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations raised by Rep. Joe Sestak.

Washington (CNN) - Congressional Republicans are turning up the heat on the White House about whether someone in the administration may have illegally offered a federal job to Rep. Joe Sestak, if the Pennsylvania Democrat would not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter's bid for re-election.

The seven Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday demanding he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations, which were first raised by Sestak several months ago.

"These allegations concern what could be a serious breach of the law," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, the ranking member on the committee. "There has been enough talk regarding this matter; it is time for a thorough and professional investigation."

Neither Sestak nor White House officials have revealed who from the administration spoke to the congressman nor what job might have been offered him. White House aide David Axelrod told CNN's JKUSA Monday the allegations "would constitute a serious breach of the law."

Read the full letter here [pdf]

However he said after the charges were made White House lawyers investigated and determined "the conversations were perfectly appropriate."

"A mere assurance from the White House counsel is plainly not conclusive," Sessions said. "It is time to get to the bottom of this."

FULL POST

May 26th, 2010
02:26 PM ET
4 years ago

Key senator backs compromise on repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska boosted the chances for a 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise plan to win committee support as soon as Thursday.
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska boosted the chances for a 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise plan to win committee support as soon as Thursday.

Washington (CNN) - A key Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Wednesday that he will vote for a compromise plan to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service.

The endorsement from moderate Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska boosted the chances for the proposal to win committee support as soon as Thursday.

However, the leaders of the four branches of the military said Wednesday in letters to Republican Sen. John McCain and Rep. Buck McKeon that they opposed any congressional action on the policy now, before the military completes its review of the matter.

Read Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway's letter here.
Read Chief of Staff of the United States Army George W. Casey's letter here.
Read Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead's letter here.
Read Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz letter here.

The proposed agreement - reached Monday by the White House and top congressional Democrats - calls for a repeal of the controversial policy after completion of a military review expected by the end of 2010, followed by a review certification from President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

Initial votes on the proposal in the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House could occur Thursday.
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Filed under: Ben Nelson • Don't Ask Don't Tell • Robert Gates
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