Democrats Make Better Doors Than Windows

It’s something that I used to hear growing up when I would inadvertently step between my father and whatever television show he was watching and it’s evident that Democrats are much better at being doors than they are windows, as well.

Superman’s X-ray eyes would have trouble peering through the barriers that the Obama Administration has put up around the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee’s attempt to learn what really drove the Department of the Interior to enact a six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill. All of this comes, mind you, from an executive who promised to be the “most transparent and ethical” in American history.

The committee has rescheduled a hearing that was supposed to take place today questioning five Interior Department officials about why the Obama Administration issued a report in May 2010 that lied about a peer-review from the National Academy of Engineers advising that drilling in the Gulf should be shut down. Engineers have said since the report was published that they recommended against the moratorium.

The hearing is now set for September, “to allow time to ensure cooperation,” according to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. It was delayed after officials refused to ackowledge the requests. Safe to say, Hasting shouldn’t be holding his breath. Here is the text of the letter that he sent to Steve Black, Counselor to Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar on July 18:

Dear Mr. Black:

The Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on July 25, 2012 to continue the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding 1) how a decision was made by the Obama Administration to impose a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico that put thousands of people out of work and caused widespread economic harm and decreased American energy production, 2) whether the Obama Administration intentionally misrepresented the views of engineering experts in order to justify the unilateral moratorium decision, 3) how the Administration responded to complaints by the engineering experts following the misrepresentation of their views, and 4) an investigation by the Department of the Interior’s (“Department”) Office of Inspector General (“IG”) into these matters.

The Committee requests your attendance at this hearing to provide testimony and to answer questions on these topics. For more than a year, this Committee has sought information and documents from the Department that would allow Congress to conduct an independent review of how the moratorium decision was made by political appointees without any technical or scientific justification and how a Department report was edited to incorrectly state peer reviewers had reviewed and supported the moratorium when in fact they had not.

The Department’s refusal to fully comply wwith the Committee’s information requests necessitated the issuance of a subpoena in April 2012. The Department has failed to comply with the subpoena, which covered only two narrow categories of records that should have been easy for the Department to locate and provide. As recently as April, the Department even argued this investigation was unnecessary because “the IG has reviewed and resolved this matter.”

However, the Committee’s investigation has identified significant shortcomings in the Acting Inspector General’s report and raised significant questions about the scope and independence of the Acting Inspector General’s handling of the investigation. The Acting Inspector General is now under investigation by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency over this matter.

Similarly, the Department has since February 2012 refused the Committee’s request to conduct a voluntary, transcribed interview with you and other officials who are believed, based on a review of the limited number of documents that have been made available to the
Committee, to have first-hand knowledge of the matters under investigation. As explained in the Committee’s July 13, 2012 letter, the Department’s continuing refusal to provide all documents covered by the April subpoena – as well as to make to make you available for an interview with Committee majority staff – has culminated with the Committee having to take this step to seek your on-the-record testimony and answer questions at this hearing. In preparing for your testimony and appearance before the Committee, you should be prepared for questions on your role in the moratorium decision and editing of the peer review language, the role of others whom you worked with, and the efforts to correct the record with the peer reviewers.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 25,2012 at 1324 Longworth House Office Building. Enclosed with this letter are the parameters regarding written and oral testimony.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please have contact the Committee at 202-225-2761.

The request for on-the-record interviews was first made back in February and follow-up letters were sent on July 6, and July 13.

The Interior Department have called their misrepresentation of the peer-review a “drafting error.” If so, it’s a “billion dollar drafting error,” that put a lot of people out of work, said Rep. Jeff Landry, and there are people in the Obama Administration that need to be losing their jobs, as well.

Landy called back in March for the subpoenas that have been ignored by the administration:

The five Interior Department officials invited to testify are Black; Neal Kemkar, Special Assistant to Black; Mary Katherine Ishee, former Deputy Administrator of the Minerals Management Service; Walter Cruickshank, former Deputy Administrator and Kallie Hanley, former White House Liaison and Special Assistant.

The White House has also denied a senior federal investigator access to the official that made the “drafting error” in the Interior Department report, along with full email records needed to determine how much of it was intentional. With what information he has gotten, the investigator determined that the mistake wasn’t so much of a mistake at all—go figure.

If there any wonder how many doors are going to be opened to the House Natural Resources Committee’s inquiries?

In an unrelated case of Democrats being much better doors than windows, today is the deadline for the extension given for our public records requests sent to both Butch Speer, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and Glenn Koepp, the Secretary of the Senate, for email exchanges between teacher unions and legislators who were leading the charge against education reform a few months back.

Like Hasting, it doesn’t seem like too good of an idea for us to be holding our breath waiting around for Democrats to open up doors so we can get a look at what they have really been up to. Stay tuned….



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