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martes, junio 01, 2010

When Is The BP Perp Walk?

It's no secret. I, who have devoted much of my professional life to defending people accused of horrendous crimes; I, who generally feel that nobody should ever go to prison; I who have spent decades fighting against state killing; I confess. I want to see BP executives indicted, perp walked in New Orleans in handcuffs before a howling media, convicted by juries and locked up. Locked up for a very long time. Like Bernie Madoff.

I don't care particularly what federal and/or state crimes the BP and drilling folks have committed. I want them to be given a full and fair trial in a federal court, and I want them imprisoned. For a very long time. I want them to be an example that this kind of environmental destruction will not be tolerated in a civilize society. There, I've said it.

And the good news for me, and for you if you feel this way is that apparently the current administration has finally decided to move in the direction of criminal prosecutions. It only took 53 days of spillage and a world record, man made environmental catastrophe. Goodness, even WFAN Sports Talk Radio in NYC today was complaining about BP and the spill and federal oversight. So finally, today, at long last, the administration is at last starting to pursue the criminals who have attempted to murder an entire ocean and all of the life in it and surrounding it.

You have some choices in how to think about this crime. You can think of it as a crime of greed. You can think of it as a crime of recklessness. You can think of it as a crime of stupidity. You can think of it as a mix of all of these. But regardless of the motivations, regardless of how one characterizes it, it's a crime.

The New York Times reports:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

"We will closely examine the actions of those involved in the spill,” Mr. Holder said after a meeting with state attorneys general in New Orleans. “If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response." snip...

Earlier Tuesday, President Obama vowed to pursue criminal inquiries into the cause of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as the crisis he called “the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history” threatened to engulf his second year in office.

“We have an obligation to determine what went wrong,” Mr. Obama said, appearing in the Rose Garden after meeting with the two men he has appointed to lead an inquiry into the cause of the spill, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and William K. Reilly, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

“If laws were broken, leading to death and destruction,” Mr. Obama said, “my solemn pledge is, we will bring those responsible to justice.”

If laws were broken. If we find evidence of criminal behavior. What a joke. If only these attempts to sound tones of restraint and impartiality and fairness could be the last vestige of federal dithering and misinformation and indecisiveness. For 53 days we've all watched as the Gulf of Mexico is ruined, we've watched while BP has demonstrated beyond cavil that it has no clue whatsoever how to stop the leak, we've watched them lie and fabricate and evade and lull and protect their sorry behinds.

I personally have no intention of reading all of Title 18 of the United States Code, and all of the other possibly relevant federal statutes, to figure out specifically what laws have been broken by Transocean and BP and their regulators. Sadly, unlike other cases, it's that clear to me: if global corporations can befoul an entire ocean and it doesn't violate several federal laws, the US Code isn't worth a cup of warm spit.

I've been hoping for almost two months that a criminal investigation would be launched. I look forward to the arrests. I look forward to the perp walks. I look forward to the courthouse steps statements of innocence. Bring it on. I can hardly wait for a jury to speak and for a New Orleans judge to impose sentence

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