BP has more than the loss of human life, livelihoods and tourism to answer for. And so do the government inspectors who allowed this corporation--as seemingly greedy as the bankers, mining companies and marine park owners whose careless conduct has resulted in similar destruction--to put profit over safety.
If the criminal investigation of BP and those who signed off on the drill-site inspection sheets and safety assurances shows willful fraud and deception, dereliction of duty, bribes or who knows what else, there is one additional set of criminal charges that should be added to the list: cruelty to animals. For this is the largest case of cruelty to animals in U.S. history.
We are being spared, for political reasons, some think, but mercifully perhaps, most of the photographs of the animals who have died and are still dying, slowly, painfully, not just coated but drenched in oil. It is hard for anyone with a heart to see the gulls and pelicans, blinking up through a thick coat of muck that prevents them from flying, eating, taking a drink of water and escaping the burning heat of June. It is even too much to come across a snippet of video that shows a huge rubber-gloved hand gently plucking a tiny crab out of a puddle of black glop. Only the outline of his body tells you what he is, although his struggles tell you that he is still alive. For the moment.
For most of the animals, any help is too late. Studies show that even if wildlife rescuers capture an oiled bird in time, before much damage has been done, the terror of being handled by a predator, of being force-fed, doused and scrubbed, is too much for their pounding hearts to endure. Even if they survive the trauma of being cleaned and re-cleaned, it is suspected that most die after their release.
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