The head of a White House-appointed panel examining the BP oil spill compared the federal government's underestimate of the spill's size to Gen. George Custer's fatal lowballing the number of Indians at Little Big Horn.

The two co-chairmen of the national oil spill commission on Monday said early government estimates caused the public to lose trust in what it was being told. The spill was about 60 times bigger than first estimated.

Incident Commander Thad Allen told commissioners the low estimates didn't hamper government response, but panel co-chair William Reilly said he had trouble believing that.

Panel co-chair Bob Graham compared the estimates to Custer, saying it led to further major problems.