Deepwater BP Oil Spill: Presidential Press Conference

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama Thursday rejected charges he was slow to respond to the Gulf of Mexico "tragedy" which he said was "fouling the Earth" and imposed a clampdown on the offshore oil industry. Seeking to contain political blowback from the crisis, Obama held his first formal White House news conference in 10 months, admitting mistakes in the federal response but denying he was disengaged from the BP oil spill nightmare. Obama said his government was in charge of every aspect of the mitigation effort, including BP's effort to cap the gushing oil well, and had several times ordered the British energy giant to do more. Obama said at an early stage of the disaster he had asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, what military assets the United States possessed to cap the leak from a ruptured riser pipe on the sea floor one mile (1,600 meters) below the surface.