AP Writers Criticize Foreign Oil Spill Aid Offers Because (Gasp!) They Expect Reimbursement

US_department_logoA Friday report by reporters Matthew Lee and Eileen Sullivan indicates that there is a serious shortage of critical thinking skills over at the Associated Press, or a serious desire to run interference for the Obama administration no matter how ignorant doing so makes the wire service's reporters appear.

Lee and Sullivan try to excuse the State Department's inaction on the vast majority of roughly 60 specific offers of assistance from over twenty nations, many of which go back to late April and early May (detailed in a 4-page State Dept. PDF here), because almost all of the offers are being made with an expectation that the costs of such assistance will be reimbursed. By my count:

  • 15 of those assistance offers involve the provision of "containment boom" to protect beaches, shoreline, and other sensitive areas.
  • Roughly 10 of those 15 containment boom offers are over a month old, and a few were made on or before April 30, over fifty days ago.
  • Out of all 60 offers made involving all forms of goods and services, roughly a half-dozen have been accepted.

The reason Lee and Sullivan cast these offers as proof of a "double standard" is -- wait for it -- because the U.S. doesn't get reimbursed when it provides aid in natural disasters like earthquakes, and because many of the countries involved, several of which are dirt poor, receive American foreign aid.

Here are the petty pair's first few paragraphs:

Cleanup aid from overseas comes with a price tag

At least 22 nations - including Britain, where BP is based - have offered oil-collecting skimmers, boom, technical experts and more to help the U.S. cope with its worst-ever environmental disaster. But their generosity comes with a price tag.

The State Department confirmed that nearly every offer of equipment or expertise from a foreign government since the April 20 oil rig explosion would require the U.S. to reimburse that country.

The offers reveal a hard truth about the United States' international friendships: With the U.S. widely regarded as the world's wealthiest nation, there is a double standard regarding foreign aid after a crisis, especially with offers from relatively poor countries.

... U.S. disaster aid is almost always free of charge; other nations expect the U.S. to pay for help.

Here is one of the examples the AP pair cited:
China offered containment boom for a price. When a major earthquake struck in northwest China in April, the U.S. quickly gave $100,000 for relief supplies, and after another major earthquake in southwestern China in 2008, the U.S. donated $500,000 through the U.S. embassy in Beijing to the Red Cross ...

Last time I checked -- and regardless of how one views our current relationship with China -- earthquakes aren't caused by industrial accidents at private companies willing to pay for the costs of their actions.

It's as if BP and its promises to pay all of the costs of the cleanup, including, as of when the AP reporters wrote their story, its "voluntary" agreement to set up a $20 billion shakedown fund -- er, "escrow account" -- don't exist. Even if you cut State a little slack because agreeing on proper reimbursement levels takes a bit of work, the real story here is that a vast array of assistance has been held up for no good reason while the environmental situation in the Gulf continues to deteriorate -- and environmental groups, in their virtual stone silence, prove that they are really branches of the Democratic Party who aren't primarily interested in clean air and water.

In a Friday press briefing the AP reporters were aware of (because their report contains a quote from that briefing), State Department spokesman Mark Toner even acknowledged BP's reimbursing role:

I believe these assistance offers, if you will, are being repaid by BP on a reimbursable basis, so – look, what we’re concerned with right now is getting these types of assistance, as they become available and as they’re useful to our cleanup operations, getting them into action so they can clean up the Gulf.

Sorry Mark, if your bosses in the government were so concerned, they would have acted on these offers weeks ago.

The idea that those running the still-richest country in the world are resisting the idea of having to pay legitimate amounts for goods provided and services rendered -- fully knowing that BP will ultimately reimburse them -- while a steadily worsening environmental emergency marches on is intensely offensive. It's enough to make one think that more than mere incompetence is involved. One doesn't want to accuse the administration of wishing that things get worse in hopes that doing so might make parts of their political agenda more achievable, but the delays in accepting help, in combination with President Obama's sickening opportunism during his national address Tuesday evening -- spending over one-quarter of it (about 750 of 2,700 words) promoting "a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill" -- move what would ordinarily be considered an outlandish accusation into the realm of the sadly possible.

Lee's and Sullivan's excuse-making is equally inexcusable. Do I even need to note that if these kinds of hold-ups had occurred under a Republican or conservative administration, Lee, Sullivan, the AP, and most of the rest of the establishment media wouldn't be making pathetic attempts at justifying them. Instead, they'd be finding Democratic politicians who would be calling for heads to roll and going way beyond speculations concerning the underlying motivations -- or issuing the calls and making the accusations themselves.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Foreign Policy Political Groups Environment Media Bias Debate Double Standards Events Pollution Government Agencies Bias by Omission Oil spill BP Gulf Oil Spill Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Eileen Sullivan Matthew Lee

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