Drudge falsely suggests U.S. has not previously accepted international aid for oil spill

Linking to an Associated Press article on the State Department's recent announcement that it is accepting dozens of offers of international aid for the Gulf oil spill response, the Drudge Report falsely suggested that this is the first time the government has “accept[ed] international assistance for [the] spill.” In fact, as FactCheck.org noted, offers had been previously accepted, and numerous foreign-flagged vessels are already involved in the oil spill response.

Drudge headline falsely suggests U.S. just now “accept[ing] international assistance for spill”

From the Drudge Report:


In fact, international offers of assistance had already been accepted

Fact Check: "[I]nternational assistance has been accepted." In a June 23 post, FactCheck.org reported that contrary to right-wing media claims, “international assistance has been accepted.” From FactCheck.org:

Also, contrary to reports such as the one on “Fox & Friends,” international assistance has been accepted. To date, 25 countries and four international organizations have offered support in the form of skimming vessels, containment and fire boom, technical assistance and response solutions, among others. A chart provided by the State Department shows that as of June 23 five offers had been accepted and 50 were under consideration -- including multiple offers from a single country or entity. One offer had been declined: France offered a chemical dispersant that is not approved for use in the United States.

State Dept.: "[T]he acceptance of international assistance we announced today did not mean to imply that international help was arriving only now." From a June 29 Reuters report:

“The United States will accept 22 offers of assistance from 12 countries and international bodies, including two high-speed skimmers and fire containment boom from Japan,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

The United States has already accepted offers of assistance from the Netherlands and Norway, among others. It is also considering offers from countries as diverse as China, Kenya and Vietnam.

Overall, 27 countries have offered assistance ranging from vessels and dispersant, to fire boom and technical personnel. In most cases reimbursement would be required.

“To be clear, the acceptance of international assistance we announced today did not mean to imply that international help was arriving only now,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an e-mail.

“In fact, before today, there were 24 foreign vessels operating in the region and nine countries had provided boom, skimmers and other assistance. As early as May 11th boom arrived from Mexico, Norway and Brazil.”

National Incident Command: “15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved” in the response. A June 18 document released by National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen and a June 15 press release from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center state: “Currently 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history. No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations as part of the response in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Foreign equipment has also been used. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated during the June 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends that “foreign entities are operating within the Gulf that help us respond” to the oil spill. Gibbs also stated in a June 10 press briefing that “we are using equipment and vessels from countries like Norway, Canada, the Netherlands. There has not been any problem with this. If there is the need for any type of waiver, that would obviously be granted. But this -- we've not had that problem thus far in the Gulf.” Fox News reporter Brian Wilson wrote on June 10 that "[t]he Coast Guard and the Administration are quick to point out that some foreign technology is being used in the current cleanup effort," including containment boom and skimmers.

Ambinder: “Not a single government that has offered its assets for free has been refused by the U.S.” In a June 29 blog post, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder noted:

The truth: Not a single government that has offered its assets for free has been refused by the U.S. ... The government, on Obama's orders, is moving to quickly streamline the complicated procedures for waiving the Jones Act, which only applies to ships within three miles off the coast. The Coast Guard says that no one has asked them to waive the Jones Act yet. ... Most of the containment and assistance offers wouldn't apply, because ships would be well outside the three-mile threshold, or because they fall into a category of ships with a specific purpose, like oil skimmers. They're already exempt.

So where are the Dutch ships, the Norwegian ships, the Belgian ships? For one thing, we're using Norweigian skimmers. The Dutch have experience with much smaller spills, and their expertise isn't as pertinent. For another, Dutch engineers ARE consulting with the U.S. government. Finally, it's worth noting that many foreign offers of help have been conditional -- that is: “We'll sell you these supplies at this cost.” Mexico has offered assistance for free, and the U.S is using it. 15 foreign countries have signed reciprocity agreements with the U.S. and are helping with the clean-up effort.