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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The West Wing Today: May 12, 2010

200,000 gallons a day - the oil continues to spew from that sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's efforts to cap the rig so far have failed, much to the consternation of President Obama.

"I would say the President is deeply frustrated that we have not plugged this leak," says Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary.

In fact, Obama is "frustrated with everything (and) with everybody, in the sense that we still have an oil leak," Gibbs adds.

That frustration might include his own government - which appears to be stonewalling on the release of key documents in the matter.

The federal agency that oversees the safety of oil rigs -- the Mineral Management Service -- won't release inspection reports -- telling CBS they're quote - part of an ongoing investigation. A spokesman says they need to review the documents to to quote - make sure they meet legal standards for release."

And something that else that's not being released -- BP has some dramatic underwater video of the leak - but so far refuses to make it public -- probably not good for their already oil-stained image.

But the White House is overseeing cleanup efforts -- couldn't it force BP to release the tape?

Gibbs: Well, we've asked that to happen.

Q: Well, why hasn’t it happened?

Gibbs: You’d have to ask that of BP.

Meantime, the Minerals Management Service will be broken up, in an effort to split its apparently conflicting missions.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says one part of the agency that deals with safety and environmental laws, will soon be seperate from another that brings in billions in drilling royalties each year.

The move is to guarantee "no conflict, real or perceived, with respect to those functions," he said.

Karzai Visit

It's Afghan day at 1600 Pennsylvania. Hamid Karzai, the embattled President - often derided as the "Mayor of Kabul" because his authority seems rather limited - visits President Obama this morning. They'll meet privately in the Oval Office and then hold a news conference in the East Room. Tensions between the two leaders have flared in recent weeks, though everyone's playing nice now.

The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan is still underway - but their withdrawal is already planned to begin in August, 2011. Afghan forces are gradually assume more control, but there are serious doubts about the timing and substance of this. The best the U.S. can say is that progress is "slow and steady."

In general, Washington's strategy now bypasses Karzai - focusing instead on regional and tribal leaders; this doesn't sit well with Karzai, who argues this weakens his authority as a leader - and his ability to help defeat the Taliban. But since 2001, the U.S. stratagy in Afghanistan had been nearly entirely on Kabul and Karzai - with limited results.

Kagan Nomination

Meantime, Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kegan, heads to Capitol Hill to make the Senate rounds. On today's agenda: Reid, McConnell, Leahy, Sessions, Durbin, Hatch, Kohl, and Feinstein.


The Schedule


9:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:15AM THE PRESIDENT holds bilateral meeting with President Karzai
Oval Office
Pool spray at the bottom for still photographers (Gather Time 10:30AM – Briefing Room)

11:15AM THE PRESIDENT holds a joint press conference with President Karzai
East Room
Open Press (Pre-set 9:30AM – Final Gather 10:45AM – North Doors of the Palm Room)

12:25PM THE PRESIDENT has lunch with President Karzai
Cabinet Room
Closed Press

2:00PM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press


On This Day

1903: President Theodore Roosevelt's trip to San Francisco was captured on moving-picture film, making him the first president to have an official activity recorded in that medium. Presidents have been playing to the cameras ever since.

Presidential Quote

"Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go." - Gerald Ford.

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