Facts Garbled As U.S. Tries To Take Charge Of Spill The chief government spokesperson on the oil spill, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, often speaks with great authority. Trouble is, he's often wrong.

Facts Garbled As U.S. Tries To Take Charge Of Spill

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But as NPR's Richard Harris reports, none of these statements appear to be true.

RICHARD HARRIS: Yesterday's briefing was a painful example. It ended up being an exercise in correcting the errors in Allen's opening statement. The headline sounded pretty good. Allen said a ship called Development Driller II was proceeding apace in its efforts to drill a relief well.

THAD ALLEN: And they are 9,000 feet below the seafloor right now and starting to close in on the well bore itself. And we anticipate over the next three to four weeks they will close in and be able to tap into the well itself.

HARRIS: First, he offered a tangled description of how the drill is going to approach the damaged well nearly horizontally and then turn and go straight down.

ALLEN: So they're going to be very close to the well in the next couple of weeks, and then the last thousand feet and then drill into the casing are what becomes very, very tricky and has to be done very, very carefully and precisely.

JIM POLSON: So close to the well is this month, actually intercepting it is still August?

ALLEN: Correct.

HARRIS: But when asked to clarify which ship was which, he repeated his error. Finally, it seems someone whispered in his ear to set him straight.

ALLEN: The first driller on scene was Development Driller III, now is at a depth of 9,967 feet. Development Driller II, the second driller on scene, is now at a depth of 4,560 feet below the subsurface. And I apologize for confusing you and me.

HARRIS: And Kristen Hays from Reuters asked for another clarification.

KRISTEN HAYS: You said earlier that, that the BP's increase of capacity would be up to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day by the end of July. I thought BP's plan said they planned to have that by mid-July. Is there a delay we don't know about?

ALLEN: No, quite frankly, I didn't have the chart in front of me, but it is July, and it's mid-July, and I probably misspoke there.

HAYES: Okay.

HARRIS: Argenti says on the plus side, Admiral Allen has strong leadership qualities. And it is a good idea during a crisis to have a single spokesman.

PAUL ARGENTI: But the perfect person for this job would be someone who has the technical expertise, not an admiral who obviously doesn't know what he's talking about in this situation. It's actually a really poor choice from my perspective.

HARRIS: Richard Harris, NPR News.

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