President Obama to Create a Presidential Commission to Probe Oil Spill

President Obama announced today that he will create a presidential commision to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an administration official said.

The commission, said to be similar to those that probed into the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, will examine the oil industry's practices, such as rig safety.

It will also examine the government's response and study the "structure and function" of government agencies like the embattled U.S. Mineral Management Service.

Current government officials or elected officials would not be eligible to serve on the commission.

On Capitol Hill, Congress is also promising more scrutiny of the government's response to the BP spill.

The Senate Homeland Security committee today began questioning government officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about their agences' actions.

Sen. Barbara Boxer and other Senate Democrats called today for the Department of Justice to open a criminal and civil investigation into the spill.

There are already signs that the increased scrutiny is having an effect.

An administration official confirmed to ABC News today that an Interior Department official will step down in the wake of the spill. Chris Oynes, who oversaw offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for the Minerals Management Service is said to be "retiring" from his position as associate director at the end of the month.

BP Claims Some Success in Capturing Oil

While news of the investigation broke in Washington, BP said today that, for the first time, one of its schemes to capture oil from the leak is actually working.

Remote submersibles hooked up a mile-long tube to the broken well pipe over the weekend. BP says it is siphoning some of the leaking oil to a tanker on the surface, which will eventually be processed and sold like other crude.

It can be called a partial success at best. The tube doesn't stop the gushing oil, but slows it, according to the company. BP says that over time, they may be able to stop up to 80 percent of the oil.

"We've got flow going, it is great progress over the last 24 hours. What we are doing is slowing, doing something called opening up the choke at the top of well to slowly increase the flow rates," Bob Dudley, BP's managing director who is overseeing the response efforts, said on "GMA."

This morning, BP said the tube was suctioning about 1,000 barrels of oil a day, or about 20 percent of what BP estimates is leaking from the well, according to The Associated Press.

Others call the plan wildly optimistic.

"I don't think it's realistic that they're going to get a significant fraction of the leak into the containment vessel," said Steve Wereley, professor of fluid mechanics at Purdue University. "Plugging the 4-inch pipe into the 20-inch pipe, that area is going to leak.

To address that concern, BP has surrounded the straw with a series of rubber stoppers to create a seal.

BP is also pursuing two other methods of stopping the oil. Today, the company started drilling a second relief well, and at the end of the week, BP may turn to the "top kill" strategy, where concrete and mud would be shot into the leak to plug it.

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