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In Gulf oil spill 'war,' cleanup foot soldiers threaten mutiny

Claims problems and mixed messages from the Gulf oil spill unified command structure has local leaders from Pensacola to Plaquemines Parish fuming as the Gulf comes under what some call a 'tarball attack.'

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On the largely Republican-leaning Gulf Coast, the failure to ramp up both a symbolic and even real military effort to fight the slick has become, to many, indicative of a federal relief effort beholden to BP, even as the administration criticizes the oil giant.

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"I’m just so frustrated because I can’t get a straight answer, I can’t see any sense of urgency yet in this administration," Sen. George Lemieux (R) of Florida tells blogger Ed Morrissey. "When I meet with the Navy and the Coast Guard, no one seems to be in charge. We’re the greatest country in the world and we can’t marshal the resources to suck up this oil before it gets on our beaches."

As a result, local communities and counties are starting to work outside the command structure to protect what Santa Rosa Island Authority member Tom Campanella called "sacred" beaches and marshes, some even risking jail in the process. But such battle rank dissension could just as well hamper, not help, the overall response.

The reaction from local officials is beginning to closely resemble reaction in Alaska to the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, as anger, depression, and a sense of inevitable doom struggle for outlets as the oil comes ashore.

"We're trying to explain to people this is going to be a long-term situation – the table is set just like in 1989. Everyone is very, very distracted, maximally disrupted, they're expressing anger," sociologist Steven Picou tells McClatchy newspapers.

IN PICTURES - Staff shots: Response to the oil spill on the Gulf Coast