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I've heard a lot of evasive non-responses in my time liveblogging.  We've had Condi's "no one could have predicted" and Albertorquemada's "I don't recall."  Good times!  My all-time favorite, though, still has to be "I am not a lawyer" from the Blackwater Xe hearings with Erik Prince. But Hayward's stock answer from yesterday's hearings has to take the cake.

"I am deeply sorry," he said.

"Devastated," he said.

"I’m not a cement engineer, I’m afraid," he said.

"I was not part of that decision-making process," he said.

Pray tell, Mr. Hayward, just what does a BP Chief Executive Officer do exactly?  I mean, I get it; CEOs are the big picture guys and nobody expects them to micromanage every technical project detail.  But for the love of all that doesn't suck, how blind/incompetent/god-forsakenly stupid do you have to be as a CEO to, apparently, be the last to know about numerous problems with Deepwater Horizon before it and the Macondo exploded.

While no one expects a CEO to know every applicable principle of physics, they are expected to run competent organizations.  And one would imagine with everything on the line regarding a project like the Macondo, competence would be given more than lip service; what kind of CEO in his/her right mind wouldn't do anything to avoid this scenario?  Apparently, safety standards and thoroughness are but trifling details in Tony Hayward's world, a very special place in which the buck stops nowhere, his life has somehow been ruined and failure to adhere to industry standards and best practices in no way amounts to negligence or incompetence on the part of BP.

In response to question after question, Hayward calmly insisted that he did not know what motivated key decisions about the blown-out well's design, frustrating House members who complained that his answers were evasive and overly legalistic - as if drafted by lawyers mindful of the flood of negligence lawsuits facing the company.

..."I'm not stonewalling," Hayward responded, over the clicking of cameras documenting his inaugural Capitol Hill testimony. "I simply was not involved in the decision-making process."

Internal BP documents unearthed by congressional investigators show what lawmakers describe as a series of risky, time-saving decisions in the days leading up to the April 20 blowout of BP's Macondo well in mile-deep water.

Some of the moves bucked an industry group's standards and, taken together, indicate BP chose "expediency over safety," said Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.

For example, BP decided to use fewer than the recommended number of centralizers for pouring the cement column.  If the documents cited by Rep. Green are accurate, a BP official had this to say about that decision: "Who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine."  Yet in Hayward's world, there was no indication of reckless behavior.  No sir, nothing reckless about tanking your company's stock, prospects and reputation!  It's only, like, the trifecta of fail, no biggie.

Citing a five-year string of accidents and deadly disasters at BP-operated facilities, Representative Bart Stupak suggested the poor safety record could justify banning the London-based company from doing business in the U.S.

...In his testimony yesterday, Hayward not only failed to convince lawmakers he was committed to making BP safer, he may have deepened suspicion of the company by repeatedly pleading ignorance to events that took place under his command, said Matt Eventoff, a partner at New Jersey communications firm, Princeton Public Speaking.

"Mr. Hayward’s comments today, saying ‘I don’t know’ 66 times, evaporated any feeling of responsibility," Eventoff said. "Any goodwill that the company bought back yesterday eroded today with his testimony."

...Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, told Hayward he and other committee members were "extremely frustrated with your lack of candor and inability to answer questions."

...According to a transcript of his testimony, Hayward said at least 23 times he was not involved in decisions.

To be fair, the details of what BP did or didn't do really are no more or less reckless than the continued dependence on fossil fuels itself; there's no smart way to do a stupid thing, after all.  But BP is just another data point in the much larger problem of energy consumption and demand.  Fossil fuel extraction is a dying industry with a dwindling resource base, so let's throw it an anchor!

Much has been written about what this oil spill represents, what it should affect in terms of policy, it's a seminal moment to redefine national energy plans, etc.  And that's all true, but it all starts with us; and no, I don't mean let's all don our cardigans and use that extra blanket in the bed at night, although those are lovely ideas.  I mean right here at dkos and on what we choose to focus.

I vote we focus on solutions, because what else is ever going to change anything?  The climate/energy bill is being worked through Congress now, RLMiller and others have been writing some really great breakdowns on the skinny there.  There's been a phenomenal amount of action diaries on whales and other sea life that needs help.  We've got alternative energy round-ups and the new eKos library.  There is action we can take on regulating natural gas.  And it's candidate season.

So, what say, kossacks?  Care to join me in an effort to start the mad reccing of action, eco and/or candidate diaries?  Say, from now until November and/or we're energy sane?  Yeah, daily kos is "just a website," but it really can do a lot when we set our minds to it and part of that is what we rec. Reporting on stuff is great, but not using this site to its utmost utility is kind of like driving the Lamborghini to the corner store.  To me, getting the most out of this site -- and crisis -- entails driving the narrative towards getting us out of this oilbroglio.  Don't get me wrong; accountability is a wonderful thing, but it's not a solution and it's not forward-looking.  Change isn't what happens while you're busy making other plans; that's life.  Affecting political change is a constant effort, but what choice do we have?

                   

                                                            Get the eKos widget code!

Originally posted to Cedwyn on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 12:58 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  and just cuz i'm here (37+ / 0-)

    i desperately hope the biggest takeaway from this disaster is that nuclear power is sheer folly.  some accidents are just too costly and i am not talking about money.  if this has taught us anything, it is that there's no such thing as "failsafe" and the last thing we need is a nuclear problem comparable to the Macondo.  i, for one, don't want to see joe blow, CEO of Nuken Corp., hauled before Congress to explain that gee whiz, he just wasn't part of that decision loop and near as he could tell, no one was cutting any corners, by golly.  not to mention the tremendous water resources needed for nuclear, but that's a whole other diary.

    Die with your boots on. Gonna try? Well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

    by Cedwyn on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 12:58:24 AM PDT

    •  Corporations are persons right? (9+ / 0-)

      So if we jail a corporation for negligence, how 'bout we specify the corporation as being the CEO, CFO, and the board?

      Send them to a federal prison with massive fines.

      MF and RKBA Member. Share Our Wealth -9.00, -4.05

      by KVoimakas on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 02:01:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hayward's testimony alone should be sufficient to (4+ / 0-)

      temporarily suspend all BP drilling and operating liscences until such time as he can return to congress and the MMS and assure and convince them that he and the rest of BP management have sufficient knowledge of what going on, what decisions have been made and why, and who made them, to put their personal quarentee behind claims BP is making that these operation meet the Federal safety guidelines.

      On what other basis should we assume their operations are safe?  If management claims that even after 57 days this collasal accident they know of no evidence that any thing was done wrong - they are essentially pleading incompetence.

      Pleading incompetence was a funny Monty Python skit, for the malicious tranlator, but it's not funny at all for one of the worlds top multinational oil companies.

      This makes every contractual and other assurance on every other operation in the world suspect.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:43:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He has turned himself into one of the most hated (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Cedwyn

      men in business.  It doesn't even have to do with the disaster itself, in the sense that it wasn't a given the CEO would personally be so thoroughly despised, the company would be.

      His own words, his belittling of the effects, his stuck on stupid comments that must have made any PR company cringe-which were wholly unnecessary for legal or any other reasons,  his attitude to those who are hurt by the disaster and now his "i was not part of that decision making process" have done it.

      Obviously the anger and fury at BP would still exist.  The CEO's response could have mitigated it some if their words and actions were more in tune with fixing and supporting the areas affected rather than adding insult to injury.

      Just like the Tylenol murders, even when anger was at its height (yes i know its not the same disaster level) it wasn't the CEO who anger was directed at personally but the company as a whole.  The way they handled the public fallout stopped it becoming a personal anger directed at one person.
      Why he is listening to his lawyers rather than firing them and getting a new set is beyond me.  They clearly want to hurt BP as much as possible

      Barack Obama: "These guys want to be paid like rock stars when all they're doing is lip-synching capitalism." may21, 2010

      by vc2 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 05:45:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We all knew (10+ / 0-)

    that Hayward was gonna give the "I dunno" answers. Thats how it is at the highest levels of corporate america. They and their board and the share holders reap the profit when there is some to be had, and pass the buck when shit goes wrong.

    I don't believe he wasn't a part of the process. My theory: the man was briefed about the possible risks to drilling, and just didn't care that much. He had dollar signs in his eyes, plain and simple.

    You're watching Fox News. OH MY GOD--LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU

    by rexymeteorite on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 01:06:28 AM PDT

    •  Certainly that is part of it (5+ / 0-)

      Though this went well beyond the normal saw no evil, heard no evil routine. More typically a CEO will, probably in an ego-driven fit, wish to establish that they have some kind of finger on the pulse of their Corporation. More typically a CEO will wish to establish their best Corporate "story" even if they do not answer every specific.

      Not Tony though. Nobody expected, surely, that he would answer each and every question posed by the committee with specifics - still there was more that could have been done. Certainly there was more he should have done, especially one day after a profoundly positive proffer in the form of the $20 Billion escrow.

      Walking into that hearing room Tony and BP had some clear choices available that would have alleviated his evasive performance.

      -- Establish the identity of BP as responsible responder. Pound away at the $20 Billion escrow and $100 Million voluntary oil worker fund as evidence that BP will not shirk their responsibility.

      -- Lay out bold industry-wide efforts to improve oil recovery / spill control methods (even mention purchasing novel technology like Costner's touted centrifuge as an example). Admit that current technology is lacking.

      -- Answer some specifics in the long memorandum containing evidence of questionable practices presented by Waxman prior to the meeting. People do realize that a CEO does not always know who is waxing the floors. But it is reasonable to expect that a highly educated technologist (B.Sc(Hons), Ph.D Geologist) whose first job was as a rig geologist might have some interest in the safe progress to completion of one of the two largest and deepest wells in the Gulf under his company's supervision.

      Instead we got a poor man's version of taking the 5th.

      Tony could have burnished in the public's view a part of BP's image with his performance. Instead, he confirmed the worst, that they are vacillating, blame-shifting, know-nothing, unbelievable, untrustworthy bastards.  

  •  I was thinking that for the cost of the safety (6+ / 0-)

    stuff alone with the second shutoff valve, or even the lawyers costs in fighting to not have to put in the safety stuff over the past few years, or the cost to have Cheney go to bat for them, or maybe even the costs of the relief wells, any of those options would have been a bargain right now compared to what BP will pay. Hundreds of millions, maybe even a couple of billion, would have been a huge savings compared to the money BP is now going to spend to cleanup and recompensate everyone on the Gulf Coast. Not like it will ever really be "cleaned up".

    I think I read here on someone's diary that even now, BP is fighting a Canadian requirement that all wells drilled up there MUST have a relief well pre-drilled and ready in case of just such an incident as we are seeing in the Gulf now.

    Isn't a CEO responsible for the fiscal decisions? On a cost-benefit analysis, how can this way of doing business continue to be rewarded?

    •  yes he is. Its nuts. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      One thing i do think Hayward and everyone at BP believed down to its core though, is that a disaster like this was "impossible".  That they had all the redundancy needed and the blow out preventer would never fail even if worst came to worst, in a way that resulted in an unstoppable leak.

      Whether it was a sane belief or not from our point of view is another thing, but believe it they did.  Which is why the cost and fiscal responsibility didn't even think of the result of a disaster like this, only lesser types of accidents

      Barack Obama: "These guys want to be paid like rock stars when all they're doing is lip-synching capitalism." may21, 2010

      by vc2 on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 05:54:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  by definition, he's part of that process (8+ / 0-)

    As CEO he's responsible for the people who hired the people who hired the people ... who made all those decisions to cut corners.

    If he had issued a directive when he became CEO, followed by weekly reminders and a few examples of what happens to people who ignore him, that anyone found cutting corners would be immediately fired, would this have happened?

    Setting the standards to be followed by all employees is THE central definition of his job.

  •  Or... he did not know because he did not WANT (4+ / 0-)

    to know.  "Don't bother me with the details."

    I listed to the hearing for a while and didn't hear the question I wanted answered:

    WHY didn't you know?  If you were not informed, why were there not procedures in place for informing you, so that you can have accountability?  (Particularly in light of his statements that safety was his highest priority.)

  •  Has anyone noticed this?? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Cedwyn, Otteray Scribe

    Tony Hayward became CEO in mid-2007.  Take a look at this chart on BP's stock performance over the last five years.  BP is the blue line, with Chevron (red line) and Exxon (green line) and the DJIA.

    Notice anything?  BP started to underperform it's peers right as Tony took over.  In fact, the company's stock has been underperforming the DJIA for YEARS, ever since he took over.

    Why?

    •  Nonsense (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      The divergence has more to do with the relative value of the pound against the US dollar than anything else. The overall shapes are very closely matched apart from this skewing and the obvious effect of the Gulf.

      In fact most professional analysists consider that this provides an opportunity to buy BP shares very cheaply with infra-day gains of 6% happening.

      "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:08:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  great post Cedwyn (5+ / 0-)

    I suspect Hayward was coached, not to admit guilt,

    especially considering his intro statement,

    was redacted to about a sixth, of what the Original was.


    Maybe the "Redactors" should have been in the hot seat instead?

    Obviously they are the ones "calling the shots"

    Tony is just being set up to be the fall guy.


    I how Congress is double-checking the Atlantis Safety Compliance Records, about now.

    The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    by jamess on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 03:47:22 AM PDT

  •  One question they apparently did not ask: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, ImpeachKingBushII, rb137

    With all the "I don't know" and "I wasnt there," etc., they could have asked him to provide a specific job description of exactly what his job description is. What is he charged with doing and knowing on a day to day basis.  For one thing, that kind of question would make it impossible for him to say he does not know, because if he did, he would be an even bigger laughingstock than he was. Perhaps they should have asked for the official company job description in writing from BP prior to his appearance.

    Anyone notice how flushed he appeared toward the end of the hearing?  Someone, a physician I believe, speculated that it might have been more than normal blushing, but stress induced Rosacea.  

    It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:03:17 AM PDT

    •  They could have asked different questions (0+ / 0-)

      And by the way restricted their grandstanding speeches.

      It is also a matter of natural justice that he does not accuse individuals of misdeeds or misjudgements ahead of internal disciplinary procedures - something which seems alien to US lawmakers. How, for example, would it have gone down if he had directly blamed one of the 11 killed as being partly responsible for the blowout and subsequent explosion?

      "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:12:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Flushed? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, Otteray Scribe

      Whiskey.

      Several years worth of whiskey.

    •  He should be stressed. He should be soul- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, Otteray Scribe

      searching. He should be getting his mind settled around the notion that his poor leadership allowed a corporate culture to take hold that created the outcome we see unfolding. He keeps saying the word accident. It was not an accident. What happened was predictable and the workers on that rig were rightfully worried that that the well would blow. The culture that allowed the drilling to continue despite the problems that existed is the Hayward effect.

      Senior management will pass the buck and the hands on deck at the time - dead and alive will end up being blamed for this.

  •  where can anybody say "I don't know" 66 times... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, cassidy3

    ...and still have a job in this country? Testifying before a Congressional investigative committee. And who can get away with playing stupid at best, and evasive and openly in Contempt of Congress at worst? A foreign-owned corporate CEO/CFO who shouldn't have a job at a McDonald's drive-thru, much less making life and death decisions affecting millions of Americans, their children, and their children for generations to come. I don't care if BP goes bankrupt and ceases to exist tomorrow, I care about America and Americans. If a human being did the things they did, they would face imprisonment or worse. It's downright criminal! And unforgiveable! Obama is way to nice asking for an escrow fund. I know what I would do. I wonder if Hayward's memory would suddenly re-appear, when I sold-off all their US assets?

    "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." John Paul Jones

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:27:06 AM PDT

  •  Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition. (3+ / 0-)

    .
     The Federal Rules of Civil (litigation) Procedure and, as far as I know, virtually all State Rules, provides what's become known to lawyerdom as a "Rule 30(b)(6) Deposition.

     Here's the Rule, in its entirety:

     (6) Notice or Subpoena Directed to an Organization.

    In its notice or subpoena, a party may name as the deponent a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, a governmental agency, or other entity and must describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination. The named organization must then designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent to testify on its behalf; and it may set out the matters on which each person designated will testify. A subpoena must advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make this designation. The persons designated must testify about information known or reasonably available to the organization. This paragraph (6) does not preclude a deposition by any other procedure allowed by these rules.

    If your eyes haven't overly glazed over and you're still with me, here's what it MEANS:  corporations/organizations/institutions, etc., are precluded from playing cagey, smart-ass, "shell games" with the other party('s attorney) in a lawsuit if they're notified that a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition is to be taken and if the other party sets out (rather specific) areas of examination.  

    Rule 30(b)(6) was instituted to prevent exactly this kind of bullshit that Hayward was pulling yesterday.  When a Rule 20(b)(6) deposition is properly noticed then the company/organization can't just put up its CEO and or other such smart ass and have them go, "Oh, that's another person who makes those decisions," and then you depose that other person (weeks or months later) and they go, "Ah, um, well, actually, I don't really have any oversight in that area.  That would be someone else's responsibility."  And then you take "someone else's" deposition and the whole thing just goes on ad infinitum while the company laughs its head off at the circles it's leading you in.

    No, when you do a proper Rule 30(b)(6) notification, if the person, whomever it may be, the company puts up for deposition says, "I don't know," then fine, then that's the person "most knowledgeable about whatever the matter at hand is and by them saying, "I don't know," that equals the company saying it "doesn't know" about, say, safety procedures, who o.k.'d a particular company action, employment policies, the way and manner in which the company trains its employees to handle disasters if they occur, etc.

     It's a handy tool when going after corporate malefactors.
    .

     

    "I have to go now. I feel . . . sticky." Anthony Bourdain

    by BenGoshi on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 04:48:38 AM PDT

  •  This is what happens when (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn

    bean counters with no technical expertise are placed in charge of industrial companies they know little about. GM, Ford, and Chrysler started going downhill when they stopped putting "car guys" in charge.

    Maybe all these MBA's aren't as smart as everyone thinks.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 05:11:33 AM PDT

  •  That he doesn't micromanage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vc2

    Every detail is not a big deal. In a huge corporation like BP, I wouldn't expect him to be able to keep tabs on every well drilled. But he is responsible for the culture. Where was his top safety official? Why are production bonuses tied to finishing early, regardless of how many rules they have to break to do it? He should appoint his top officials in the company to look at every part of the operation, and demand that safety comes first, above all else, and that no corners would be cut. And if really is devastated, how many top people at BP have lost jobs over this?

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 05:22:21 AM PDT

    •  Moreover, Congress (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corwin, Cedwyn

      let him know exactly what they wanted to know from him ahead of time. He, being the CEO, should have called on his subordinates and gotten the requested information.

      Fineman on Countdown last night talked about how this was by far to most evasive testimony of a CEO before Congress he has ever seen (and he added he's seen a lot) and how inexcusable it was, given that Haywood  was told in advance what to prepare for. It's just the Barton bullshit has distracted everyone from Haywood's egregiously irresponsible testimony. It just goes to show how BP really thinks they can walk away from this disaster eventually. They're just going through the motions until then.

      -8.50, -7.64 Autism Speaks does not speak for me. I can speak for myself. I am a person, not a disease. I want to be respected, not "cured."

      by croyal on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 06:06:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The buck stops... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn

    ...in my pocket.

  •  Incredible waste of time. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lib Dem FoP
    To expect a CEO to have functional knowledge of what happened during the building of an oil platform is just plain stupid.
  •  I'm late to this diary, but delighted to rec it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denig, Cedwyn

    The horror of what's going on in the Gulf needs to translate to activism.  I'm with you, Cedwyn.

    Hey BP! A person's a person, no matter how small!/twittering RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 07:23:18 AM PDT

    •  what RLMiller said! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      I don't think you can be a success at anything if you think about losing, whether it's in sports or in politics. ~Edward Kennedy

      by denig on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 08:02:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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