Is this the first head to the chopping block, or is this the guy who knew it was all bad from the start and now wants out? Chris Oynes, an Associate Director of the Minerals Management Service is seeking early retirement. He's not even in the top three at the MMS.
Obama's spin doctors are already on the Web trying to manage and control the fallout from this catastrophe. They've been quick to update Wikipedia bios and data. For example, when you look up the MMS on Wikipedia, and you check under the subheading, "Role of MMS in BP Oil Spill," you'll find a note distancing Director Liz Birnbaum from the environmental exemption waiver granted to BP in April, 2009. I mean, it's fair to say it. It's apparently the truth. But is it a necessary piece of information?
Environmentalists expected Liz Birnbaum and the guy who appointed her, Ken Salazar, former Democratic Senator from Colorado now serving as Secretary of the Interior, to clean up the MMS, which got busted in September 2008 by the U.S. Interior Department’s inspector general (Earl E. Devaney) for rigging oil contracts, accepting gifts, and consulting to the industry they were charged with regulating. They were also accused of having sex and doing drugs with industry reps.
Obviously, while the MMS has apparently given up the sex, drugs and rock and roll, it's still very cozy with the oil, gas and mining industries.
Obama has pledged to "get to the bottom" of this catastrophe and has ordered a full investigation. I hope he includes his own house and himself in that call. I don't accuse Obama of being cozy with the industry or conspiring to advance the exploitation of natural resources. I accuse him of complacency and inaction in the face of a pending national environmental emergency. And I vote for putting Earl Devaney on the case. He seems like a guy with integrity. Put Devaney in charge and add a few scientists and emergency response experts and let's see what develops.