Issa Calls for Investigation Into Coast Guard Asset Seize Order

July 29, 2010

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Darrell Issa, the Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has sent a letter to the Deepwater Horizon Response National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen requesting that he investigate allegations that the “Coast Guard is attempting to seize, relocate, and demobilize assets” thereby undermining the partnership between local officials and the federal government.

“I am deeply troubled by these events,” wrote Issa.  “If true, allegations that the Coast Guard is attempting to seize, relocate, and demobilize assets directly conflicts with President Obama’s promise to dedicate every resource to clean up the Gulf, even when the cameras are off.  These actions also undermine what should be a partnership between the local leaders and the federal government.  I respectfully request you investigate this matter to determine who issued the order to seize the assets, why such orders were issued, and whether similar events have occurred in other Parishes withinLouisiana.”

The Committee has received a communication detailing an incident that occurred on Friday, July 23rd between the St. Bernard Parish’s Head of Homeland Security, David Dysart, a representative from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), officers with BP and the U.S. Coast Guard:

“On Fri 23rd, I met with Cmdr’s Carter and Knapp from ICP Houma at our Chalmette Warehouse… [to] examin[e] our facility to determine if it was safe for the relocation of our assets as we prepared for TS Bonnie to make landfall the following evening.  During the discussions it became evident that the reason they wanted us to relocate our assets to Gonzales wasn’t for safety, rather a method of gaining control so the assets could be demobilized rather than returned.  I explained to both Cmdr’s that these assets were not leaving the control of the Branch Command because it had taken the Branch over 60 days just to get these on site.  Furthermore the Parish President directed no assets to leave. Cmdr Carter then questioned the authority of the President and the validity of his directions…At approx 1500 President Taffaro spoke with Admiral Zukunft regarding the visit and the matter and was assured the equipment would remain in St. Bernard. We assumed the matter had been concluded.

“At approx 1800 LtCmdr Kite called Parish President Craig Taffaro and myself into an office where Dan Glossner, BP Branch Director and another BP representative were present.  A gentleman who did not identify himself positioned himself in the door and he was introduced by LtCmdr Kite as a DHS representative.  LtCmdr Kite stated that he had received an order from Cmdr Carter, Deputy Incident Commander from Houma that, under penalty of Court Marshallhe was to defy the direction of the Branch Command and the order of the Parish President, commandeer Boom and other critical assets that are the property of BP and other contractors, load them on trucks and to relocate these assets to Gonzales LA.

“The Parish President told LtCmdr Kite how sorry he was that Cmdr Carter and the Coast Guard had chosen to side with BP and place him in this position and for his benefit he would have him escorted from the property for his protection and future career, but the assets were not being relocated again outside the Parish.  He further acknowledged the potential impact this event would have as the International community became aware via the media.  Finally, in an effort to avoid this potential irreversible conflict, he suggested LtCmdr Kite call Admiral “Z” and confirm the order.  As a result the order was rescinded…”