Investigating BP

John Calfee isn't happy about it:

[Obama] endorsed Attorney General Eric Holder’s already high-profile criminal investigation into the behavior of BP in the run-up to the drilling platform explosion and the consequent massive leak from 5,000 feet below. It is hard to imagine a more counterproductive strategy. In two other areas where human error can have disastrous consequencesmedical practice and airline operationsit has become clear that in the essential task of finding out what happened and how to prevent it, a crucial tool is the absence of an immediate criminal or civil penalties investigation. The reason is simple. In diagnosing and fixing errors, information is at a premium, and the faster it is found and used, the better. Because that information is typically embedded in a mass of details that can only be untangled by expertsoften the same experts who could be implicated in civil or criminal litigationit is counterproductive to have those experts thinking about how to avoid severe penalties while also trying to uncover the best that science offers.