More evidence of an orchestrated government/corporate campaign to choke off media and scientific access to the Gulf continues to pour in (see "Leaking Legitimacy" for an overview of the situation). Not only has BP corrupted local law enforcement to block reporting and scientific analysis of the spill, the Coast Guard now claims that the rare authorization for access requires authorization from the White House. This campaign is working, from the perspective of BP's and the government's public relations departments. The media (both traditional and social) coverage of the gulf oil spill doesn't even show up relative to Katrina).
Another reason that BP may have retained control of the response to the crisis because of its ability to pay for it. If the government had taken control, it may have required a vast new emergency outlay, measured in the hundreds of billions. An outlay that could have pushed the US deficit up radically (to the $2 Trillion mark?) at the very moment another global financial crisis looms. For even if BP is legally liable for the clean up, they would likely be unwilling to open a checkbook for efforts that they didn't completely control. In contrast, the ability to extract that money forcibly via a tortuous legal process would take years.
As an example of our ability to solve a crisis it's another disaster. By keeping BP in charge of fixing the situation and limiting outside involvement, the decision making process has been corrupted.
- Selfish motives may limit options. BP may still hold the notion that their investment in the well may be salvaged (it would allow them to earn themselves out of the expense). As in, destroying the well to stop the leak may be put on the back burner.
- Poor orientation. Without outside input (an industry and scientific team of experts with the experience and perspective that is vital to this process), the decision making process becomes barren. Valid options aren't presented, evaluations of alternatives are weak, and perspective is lost. In essence, they are breathing their own exhaust.
- Unresponsiveness. A linear, closed loop decision process often fails to adjust to rapid shifts in the problem. For example, new data may indicate that the real leak may be 5-6 miles form the well head.
NOTE: Even if the Navy is put in charge, it might not improve the decision making process unless: there is a flood of data gathering and analysis (from the leak to the damage it is doing), there is a tiger team of experts assembled from across the world to decide the next moves, and entire process is made as transparent as possible (transcripts, etc.).