Washington (CNN) - A top White House aide and the managing director of oil giant BP provided differing versions Sunday for who provided the initial inaccurate estimates of the size of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Robert Dudley, the BP official who appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and other talk shows, said early estimates that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) were leaking into the ocean each day came from government satellite imaging, rather than BP's figures.
An updated estimate issued last week by a government-led team put the leak at 12,000-19,000 barrels (504,000 to 798,000 gallons) a day, more than double the initial figure.
"The best way to measure those early rates or estimate those early rates were from satellite data, not BP data," Dudley said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
Not true, countered Carol Browner, the assistant on energy and climate change to President Barack Obama, who spoke to the NBC program "Meet the Press" and the CBS show.
"The very, very first estimates came from BP," Browner said on the CBS program. "They had the footage of the plume. The government then did satellite imagery and we realized that those estimates were not accurate."
Browner noted that BP had a "vested financial interest" in downplaying the size of the leak.
Washington (CNN) – A leading Democratic voice on military affairs has criticized members of his own party for the hurried way in which congressional Democrats and the White House are pushing through the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all stated their belief that the policy should be changed. In an effort to lay the groundwork to do away with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Gates and Mullen have commissioned a thorough survey of U.S. service members in order to ascertain how the force structure feels as a whole about having openly gay and lesbian members serving within their midst.
Related: Mullen on DADT review
The results of the review will not be available until December but in an apparent acknowledgement that they may not have sufficient votes to support a repeal after this November’s midterms, the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill moved forward last week with efforts to pass a law that would repeal the policy. The House approved the provision as part of a larger defense spending bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee also approved the measure. The legislation, if passed, would not take effect until the military’s internal review is completed; it also requires the president, Gates, and Mullen to sign off on the policy change.
Notwithstanding these measures intended to defer to the Pentagon, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, still faulted the legislative moves to fast track the repeal.
“I was really disappointed in - in the way that this process was accelerated. I was the only Democrat that voted against this in committee markup,” Webb said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Webb, himself a Vietnam veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy, sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee and is the Chairman of the Armed Forces Personnel Subcommittee.
“I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
“They should not have done this,” Webb added.
Washington (CNN) – The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff walked a fine line Sunday as he stressed the need to complete the military’s internal review of the effects of repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy while remaining sufficiently deferential to Congress, which has taken significant steps in the past week to change the controversial policy.
Watch: Mullen on DADT
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both expressed their personal belief that the Clinton-era military policy against gays and lesbians serving openly should be changed. But Gates, the military’s top civilian leader, and much of the military’s top brass, including Mullen, have also said that they believe the Pentagon needs time to survey its rank and file to determine how service members feel about the policy change and to identify potential obstacles and pitfalls in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Under Gates’ direction, the Pentagon has begun a wide-ranging survey the results of which will not be available until December.
But, in a move that seems to be driven by this November’s midterm elections, both the House and a Senate committee passed measures last week that begin the process of repealing the law that created “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The congressional moves got what can only be described, at best, as a tepid response from Gates and the service chiefs.
Asked about the hurry that the Democratically-controlled Congress now seems to be in to change the policy, Mullen said the military review still needs to be completed and factored into any decision to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I still think – and so does the Secretary of Defense – [that] it’s really critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most, as we look at the implementation challenges should the law change,” Mullen said Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Ideally, I would certainly have preferred that legislation not be brought forward, in terms of the change, until we are completed with that review.,” he added.
Washington (CNN) - A Republican senator from the state so far the hardest hit by the Gulf oil spill said Sunday that the environmental catastrophe was not a reason to put a stop to all domestic offshore oil drilling.
"By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union. "I don't think that is rational."
Watch: Vitter on the oil spill
Vitter added that it was necessary to determine what went wrong in the sequence of events that led up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 which caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
"We've going to need a lot of new technology and mandates and procedures," Vitter told Crowley, "And I will be a big part of that effort.
"But to jump from there to say: No domestic offshore drilling, no domestic production of oil and gas . . . I think is a crazy leap quite frankly."
(CNN) - The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is "probably the biggest environmental disaster we've ever faced in this country," the assistant to President Barack Obama on energy and climate change, Carol Browner, said Sunday.
Washington (CNN) - Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday that technical challenges require the oil industry, rather than the U.S. military, to lead the effort to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.
"It really is not ours to lead right now, because of the technical challenges," Mullen said on the CNN program "State of the Union." Instead, the oil industry is leading the effort, Mullen said.
While the military has some deep-sea capability, such as deep-sea submersibles, officials have said the military has no unique technology to offer regarding offshore oil drilling. The military has undersea imagery
technology, but military officials said it would not add any capability to what the private industry is already using.