Katrina disaster – criticism now targeted

Former Clinton adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, pulls no punches and firmly lays the blame at Bush’s feet in his colums for today’s Guardian. He was also on the Today programme (R4) this morning discussing the same points with David From – Bush’s “Axis of Evil’ speechwriter.

Katrina comes home to roost

President Bush is to blame for the scale of the disaster as a result of his administration’s policies and actions

Sidney Blumenthal
Friday September 2, 2005
The Guardian

Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, the storm has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter, and hundreds reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

A year ago the US army corps of engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, the Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project. Operated by the corps of engineers, levees and pumping stations were strengthened and renovated. In 2001, when George Bush became president, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely potential disasters – after a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. By 2004, the Bush administration cut the corps of engineers’ request for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80%. By the beginning of this year, the administration’s additional cuts, reduced by 44% since 2001, forced the corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate debated adding funds for fixing levees, but it was too late.

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The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem – whose presses are underwater and can now only put out an online edition – has reported: “No one can say they didn’t see it coming … Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation.”

The Bush administration’s policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly has contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands around New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush promised a “no net loss” wetland policy, which had been launched by his father’s administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed the approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The army corps of engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce. In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a study that concluded in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary – much less a category four or five – hurricane. “There’s no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection,” said one of the report’s authors. The chairman of the White House’s council on environmental quality dismissed the study as “highly questionable”, and boasted: “Everybody loves what we’re doing.”

“My administration’s climate change policy will be science-based,” President Bush declared. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the UN, reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as “a report put out by a bureaucracy”, and excised the climate change assessment from its annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive Report on the Environment, stating: “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment”, the White House simply removed the line and all such conclusions. At the G8 meeting in Gleneagles this year, Bush stymied any common action on global warming. But scientists have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, producing more severe hurricanes.

In February 2004, 60 scientists warned in a statement, Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: “Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the US the world’s most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy … Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W Bush has, however, disregarded this principle … The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease…” Bush ignored the statement.

In the two weeks preceding the storm, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced it was postponing sale of the morning-after pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and approval by the FDA’s scientific advisory board.

The UN special envoy for HIV/Aids in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda as a result of pushing its evangelical Christian agenda of “abstinence”. The chief of the board of justice statistics in the justice department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops. He refused to concede and was forced to quit. When the army’s chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7bn no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton, she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings.

On the day the levee burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech comparing the Iraq war to the second world war and himself to Franklin D Roosevelt: “And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan.” Bush had boarded his very own Streetcar Named Desire.

· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is author of The Clinton Wars

  • willis

    Lucky old Sidney

    A target rich environment! What did DF have to say for the supreme leader?

  • Keith M

    A sickening attempt to score political points through people’s misery. The fact that he was an advisor to Cinton says it all.

  • willis

    That would be the same Clinton invited by George W to provide help along with George Snr!

  • Katie

    Why is that a sickening attempt Kieth? It is all true. I think that its not points so much that Sidney wants, but an enlightened electorate.

    We are now turning up the volume or the Dubya noise machine and we are being asked to condemn the local New Orleans government for not having a disaster plan… We are being asked to forget that President Bush HIMSELF declared a national emergency two days prior to Katrinas landfall. Katrina was under federal jurisdiction since before her first raindrop fell.

    This is so bad Keith. I can’t believe it is really happening.

  • pacart

    Keith M, it’s not a matter of scoring points, it’s a matter of pointing out the obvious, George W IS an idiot and he is not up to the job. Maybe the American electorate will get wise to the “good ol’ boy” schtick at last. It is an important job, you need someone who is at least competent.

  • pacart

    Keith M, it’s not a matter of scoring points, it’s a matter of pointing out the obvious, George W IS an idiot and he is not up to the job. Maybe the American electorate will get wise to the “good ol’ boy” schtick at last. It is an important job, you need someone who is at least competent.

  • harry flashman

    I am getting so sick of this Blame Bush BS, the mayor of NO was on CNN tonight he was interviewed for ten minutes (how the hell has he got ten minutes to spare?) he rambled on incoherently blaming everyone else, truth to tell he sounded drunk, he was crying by the end. Now this clown hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on, he admitted he wasn’t even in contact with the freakin Governor. He blamed Bush he blamed the Iraq war without the faintest idea that the welfare of the citizens of New Orleans was HIS job!

    The governor hasn’t been heard from since the early days when she also was crying. These incompetents were the people in charge, the city and state authorities are primarily responsible for the welfare of the state and city, if they need assistance they can immediately get help from the federal government.

    To blame Bush is ridiculous, what the hell was he supposed to do when dough brains in charge completely lost the run of themselves? Remember the police and National Guard were under these guys’ jurisdiction and they have proved themselves to be singularly incompetent, the only people who are doing their job correctly are the Navy, Army and Coast Guard who are the federal forces. Need I point out the political party affiliation of the Mayor and Governor? Yes the weepy, touchy feely, feel your pain, compassionate Democrats!

    So just how is Bush responsible? He’s been in office four and a half years. New Orleans and the levees were built two hundred years ago, plenty of time therefore for previous administrations to fix the situation. Let me guess I suppose Clinton added on an extra twenty feet to the levees and Gore would have added ten more but then along came Chimpy McHitlerburton and his evil crony Karl Rove and tore down these levees. They did so to kill all those black democrats muahahhahhha!! Catch a grip here.

    Please spare me the Kyoto Protocol, the Democrats in Congress unanimously vetoed that bill, even if they hadn’t it wouldn’t have made a blinking bit of difference to this situation. Get over yourselves, this Bush derangement syndrome is driving so many people nuts I think there’s no hope for the Left ever to get reelected.

  • Gonzo

    harry flashman

    Even if your argument is true, don’t the people in charge always get blamed for the disasters that occur during their tenure – even if they’re on holiday?

    On a disaster of this level, questions will be asked at the top, no matter who’s in charge locally. Bush is on a global stage right now, and world leaders will be watching how he copes.

    Would a comparison to Putin (Kursk, Beslan/ 9-11, Katrina) be appropriate..? Maybe, maybe not, but the public reaction seems to be similar.

  • Katie

    harry fiashman, NAGIN WAS NOT DRUNK he has been awake watching the good citizens of new orleans DIE infront of his face for days, he is DESPERATELY BEGGING FOR HELP!!! He has been in New Orleans, among the chaos trying EVERYTRHING in his power to help his fellow citizens Tell me darling how was he supposed to contact the governor when commuunications were down?

    The Lousiana nat guard was deployed before katrina made landfall, however there were not enough of them to even make a dent in the tragedy, and much of thier equipment was rendered useless by Katrina.

    President BUSH himself declared a national emergency (it was even televised) DAYS BEFORE katrina made landfall, NOLA has technmically been under federal jurisdiction since before the first raindrop fell. Yet there has been little or no federal presence until today, and even today it is still not enough.

    THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, and FEMA HAVE DROPPED THE BALL!!! They Have not done thier jobs, and now people are dying.

    We had a national emergency declared days ahead of time. How bad off would we be if we had no warning???? IF this is the best we can do we as a nation are in big trouble. GROSS MURDEROUS INCOMPETENCE!!!! FEMA HAS BLOOD ON THIER HANDS!!!!

    I have to repeat again, there is not a major city in the US that has more than a three day supply of food. the majority of the food in nola was lost in the storm, still more rotted in the heat. The people of new orleans were in bleak danger of starvation within hours of katrinas hit. society breaks down when people do not know how they will feed themselves. that is why we have the MOST EXPENSIVE MILITARY IN THE WORLD! To help us. And where were they? Nat guard troops in my home town have been at the ready since monday evening. Our food shelves have three semis(lorries) of MRE’s and granola bars packed, gassed and ready to go. There are firefighters, cadaver dogs, and emergency specialists at the ready from my city alone, and we have been ready for days.We are just waitng for someone to call, it is against the law to take it into our own hands, the posse commitatus laws prevent this. we need FEDERAL REQUESTS!
    Louisiana does not have the power to requests resources from other states THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST.

  • Katie

    harry fiashman, NAGIN WAS NOT DRUNK he has been awake watching the good citizens of new orleans DIE infront of his face for days, he is DESPERATELY BEGGING FOR HELP!!! He has been in New Orleans, among the chaos trying EVERYTRHING in his power to help his fellow citizens Tell me darling how was he supposed to contact the governor when commuunications were down?

    The Lousiana nat guard was deployed before katrina made landfall, however there were not enough of them to even make a dent in the tragedy, and much of thier equipment was rendered useless by Katrina.

    President BUSH himself declared a national emergency (it was even televised) DAYS BEFORE katrina made landfall, NOLA has technmically been under federal jurisdiction since before the first raindrop fell. Yet there has been little or no federal presence until today, and even today it is still not enough.

    THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, and FEMA HAVE DROPPED THE BALL!!! They Have not done thier jobs, and now people are dying.

    We had a national emergency declared days ahead of time. How bad off would we be if we had no warning???? IF this is the best we can do we as a nation are in big trouble. GROSS MURDEROUS INCOMPETENCE!!!! FEMA HAS BLOOD ON THIER HANDS!!!!

    I have to repeat again, there is not a major city in the US that has more than a three day supply of food. the majority of the food in nola was lost in the storm, still more rotted in the heat. The people of new orleans were in bleak danger of starvation within hours of katrinas hit. society breaks down when people do not know how they will feed themselves. that is why we have the MOST EXPENSIVE MILITARY IN THE WORLD! To help us. And where were they? Nat guard troops in my home town have been at the ready since monday evening. Our food shelves have three semis(lorries) of MRE’s and granola bars packed, gassed and ready to go. There are firefighters, cadaver dogs, and emergency specialists at the ready from my city alone, and we have been ready for days.We are just waitng for someone to call, it is against the law to take it into our own hands, the posse commitatus laws prevent this. we need FEDERAL REQUESTS!
    Louisiana does not have the power to requests resources from other states THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST.

  • Gum

    The guys looking out for his city, from all accounts he’s been doing all he can. With CNN interviews his only way of contacting the rest of the US, can you blame him for using the TV? New Orleans voted twice for Bush, and he’s let them down on a colossal scale.

  • Tampico

    Gum,

    Given that 70% of New Orleans is African American and 9 out 10 African Americans voted Democrat in 2000 and 2004, short of some freakish result, it’s not accurate to say that New Orleans voted for Bush twice.

    It is accurate however to say that Louisiana voted for Bush twice.

  • Keith M

    I was going to post a long reply, but harry flashman has done it fat more eloquently than I ever could.

    Nw Orleans did not vote for Bush as Tampico points out. (Cue : lots of nonsense aboy Bush looking after his own).

  • Last Sane Man in the Asylum

    “In 2001, when George Bush became president, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely potential disasters – after a terrorist attack on New York City.”

    What was the third most likely disaster? These FEMA guys seem to have a knack for predicting catastrophe so what should we expect next?

  • Katie

    Earthquake in LA was the third.in the group of three. NOLA planners have always estimated that 130 thousand people would be left behind in a NOLA ‘caine

    Bush apologists, this is a disaster in a grander scale than we are used to, and nobody can blame FEMA for missing small pockets of people, but last bight, (fri) sheperd smith repoerted from a freeway overpass that for days US reporters have been reporting from, Shep included, there are HUNDREDS of people still waiting there with no food. that is a cery large and very accessible pocket of folks is it not?

    This is a disaster that was declared 2 days before it started, with all the tax money we spend to be prepared for disasters, WHY are there hundreds of people still waiting on an accessible piece of road for 5 days with no food?

    What would happen if this was an UNPLANNED ATTACK? WITH NO WARNING?

  • Keith M

    “This is a disaster that was declared 2 days before it started…” Indeed there was and I remember an evacuation order. People disregarded the order, took a risk and chose to stay. It’s easy to blame government, but people make personal decisions and are therby responsible for their own actions and inactions. I know personal responsibility is a unamerican concept in the sue you sue me society, but it doesn’t change the facts.

  • jmc

    So somehow it is Bushes fault that the city government of NO and the state of La. has been profoundly incompetent and criminally negligent?

    Blumenthals article was disgusting in the extreme. Even someone as profoundly arrogant as himself should know that in the US disaster planning and response starts with the local and state government. The Fed just provide resources when requested. Thats what FEMA is there for. Thats the way it s always being..

    NO has no meaningful disaster planning, Nagin was utterly irresponsible in the days leading up to the disaster, he ignored all the advice he was given and then walked away from his responsibilities in the last 36 hours before the deluge. And now he is trying to blame everyone else. He should go back to running a division of a cable tv company…

    And Blanco, where do you start…she should go back to running the tourist bureau..

    If the voters of La and NO elect incompetents that’s their problem. Mississippi got hit a lot harder and you dont see the same kind of anarchy there.

  • Vera

    Keith M,it’s ridiculous to say that people disregarded the order and took the risk. Most of these people had no way to leave. There are over 100,000 residents of NOLA who don’t own cars and have no access to transportation. There was no public transportation availible to evacuate them. What were they supposed to do, walk to Houston? They did not have the money or the means to leave.

    If New Orleans is rebuilt, more thought will have to be given to evacuation procedures, in addition to strengthening the levee system. Even the strongest levee can fail, and there has to be a way to get people out. It’s no easy task. As we are seeing now, even with hundreds of busses it can take several days, and several days just isn’t fast enough. When the order comes you usually have 24 hours. I have heard there were some discussions about using trains (since they can carry more than busses) but the idea either wouldn’t work or wasn’t followed up on.

    This is a very difficult problem, and I don’t completely blame the local, state, or federal government for not having solved it (though they certainly could have done better), but now that we have seen the catastrophic results of not having a good evacuation plan, much, much more though will need to be given to it.

    I’m a Floridian, so I believe in hurricane preparedness and having a plan for yourself and your family, and I have seen more than one evacuation. Our evacuation orders basicly amount to the county government saying “Get the hell out, if you stay you’re on your own.” Which works well enough here in our little beachfront community where everyone has cars. There’s no big plan, everyone just gets in their cars and goes, maybe to friends in Tallahassee or Atlanta, maybe you just drive until you find an inland hotel with rooms availible(which could be days and hundreds of miles), but the point is, everyone’s on their own. Everyone finds their own place to go.

    Now, I actually prefer this style of “every man for himself” evacuation, where the government’s only major role is to set up contraflow on the Interstate to help with the traffic. It’s a very American way of handling it, and it works great here where everyone has a car and a credit card to pay for a few days in a hotel.

    But it clearly doesn’t work at all in a major city with a substantial poor population without cars. It goes against our grain a little, as Americans, to think about and plan for massive government actions like a mandatory evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people by rail or bus. But we HAVE TO do it anyway. We would much prefer to let people find their own way out of town and their own place to stay. But it just doesn’t work in a place like New Orleans. What works in Florida doesn’t work there. WE MUST PLAN TO DO MORE.

  • Gum

    Ok, Tampico and Keith M,

    LOUISIANA voted for Bush twice. Happy now?

    Since most people from this state probably care a little about whether their greatest city is left to slip into anarchy, I still think they may feel let down.

  • iluvgw

    Michelle Malkin has comprehensive coverage of the left and right’s reaction to the NO crisis. (http://michellemalkin.com/archives/003447.htm)

    I find it absolutely pathetic that this desperate situation is being used as an opportunity to take cheap political shots at President Bush. US politics are definitely in the gutter.

    After Hurricane Betsy in 1965 the city had 40 years notice that it was in grave danger, and no one, neither Democrat nor Republican, did anything about it. So no one is to blame, and everyone is to blame. (http://www.usatoday.com/weather/resources/askjack/2003-10-09-hurricane-betsy_x.htm)

  • pacart

    Keith M, Harry Flashman, you are a pair of pathetic apologists. This is a tragedy/disaster on a national scale and the national leader did what? Sat watching on TV. you have been unable to answer any of Katie’s substantive points, except to blame the victims for not getting out of the way in time. Katie, can Presidents get impeached for sheer bloody incompetence?
    Bush cannot take sole blame however for the lack of investment in protecting the city over the years. Perhaps US citizens will now examine their own fetish for tax cuts which has led to persistent cuts in Federal and local programmes, a shortsighted, greedy and, above all stupid policy. J.K. Galbraith wrote brilliantly about this in “A Culture of Contentment”. The US political classes are like a household of idiots who decide to save money by not repairing the roof. Eventually the roof will fall in on you.

  • Alan McDonald

    If you think that what Kanye West had to say (Kanye West’s Torrent of Criticism, Live on NBC) was too strong, check out Steve Gilliard’s piece (We told you so) on The News Blog. WARNING: LANGUAGE IS VERY VULGAR

  • Katie

    Pacart, you are so right, we have been obsessed for years with not taking care of our business. we have a complete and total aversion to “socialism” of any kind/. this includes repairs and improvements to our public infrastrudture that we ALL benefit from, this is not just a criticism of Bush but of Democrats as well.

    As these victims of Katrina are rescued and filtered into the health care system we will be unpleasantly surprised that decades of paring down of our health care system in order to make it more efficient and cost effectivew will severely hamper any states ability to administer the proper care. Every hospital has carefully monitored its resources over the years and streamlined to the point of having very little ability to handle massive jumps in patient population.
    Our schools budgets are run on such a slim margin that adding these new children will overstress school budgets like we cannot imagine.

    I was listening to a “Christian” radio program today that informed me in no uncertain terms that this had happened as gods punishment for our acceptance of homosexuals and abortion. I was a little affronted by this at first but then I thought to myself that maybe he was right about god having a hand in this. In one fell swoop he has laid bare my countrys complete and total disregard for the least among us.

    I am glad that at least you Irish folk understand that had we shipped the poor out of nola, and forced the rich to stay, and subjected them to incompetence of this magnitude, the very same societal breakdown would have happened.

    Hopefully as my countrymen are subjected to the unpleasent news af the body counts, waterbourne illnesses and lasting psychological trauma that we will see, we will start to understand the importance of prevention tax INVESTMENT, living wages and really valueing human life. even poor human life.

    For all of you apologists out there I have a question. What if this was a terror attack in your tristate area? and what if it happened by total surprise? would you accept a response like this? would you praise your government for doing everything it could? Would you congratulate them on a job well done, if you had to cradle your child as she died of hunger or waterbourne disease in your arms?

  • foreign correspondent

    I just had a look at Steve Gilliard´s piece. I thought he was a bit soft on the Chimp personally.
    Anyway, I hope the poor people of N.O. get help soon.

  • Patriot1776

    IMPEACH AND IMPRISION

    New Orleans and Baghdad—two sides of the same policy

    As US National Guard troops—just returned from Iraq—moved into New Orleans Friday with “shoot-to-kill” orders, and Blackhawk helicopters flew over the city, the essential unity between the policies pursued by Washington at home and abroad found stark expression.

    Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said half of the 7,000 National Guardsmen arriving in Louisiana had shortly before been serving overseas and were “highly proficient in the use of lethal force.”

    Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared, “They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot to kill… and I expect they will.”

    The reaction of the Bush administration to the catastrophe of its own making in the invasion of Iraq and its response to the disaster unleashed by Hurricane Katrina on the US Gulf Coast have both revealed gross incompetence and a criminal contempt for human life. Both have led to soaring death tolls and immense suffering.

    There are direct connections between the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq and the one that is unfolding in New Orleans. Barely a month ago, Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard complained to the media that essential equipment the force had taken to Iraq last October—humvees, high-water vehicles, generators and refuelers—had been left in the country. He stressed that in the event of a serious natural disaster, the lack of the equipment could pose problems in mounting a speedy rescue and relief response.

    The failure of the levee and the flooding of 80 percent of New Orleans are linked to repeated budget cuts carried out by the Bush administration since the war in Iraq began.

    In the 2004 budget, the Army Corps of Engineers requested $11 million for a hurricane protection project in the New Orleans area. It was allotted just half that amount, $5.5 million. In the 2005 budget, the Corps requested $22.5 million, and received one quarter of its request, $5.7 million. In the 2006 budget, the Bush administration proposed an appropriation of just $2.9 million.

  • Patriot1776

    IMPEACH AND IMPRISION

    New Orleans and Baghdad—two sides of the same policy

    As US National Guard troops—just returned from Iraq—moved into New Orleans Friday with “shoot-to-kill” orders, and Blackhawk helicopters flew over the city, the essential unity between the policies pursued by Washington at home and abroad found stark expression.

    Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said half of the 7,000 National Guardsmen arriving in Louisiana had shortly before been serving overseas and were “highly proficient in the use of lethal force.”

    Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared, “They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot to kill… and I expect they will.”

    The reaction of the Bush administration to the catastrophe of its own making in the invasion of Iraq and its response to the disaster unleashed by Hurricane Katrina on the US Gulf Coast have both revealed gross incompetence and a criminal contempt for human life. Both have led to soaring death tolls and immense suffering.

    There are direct connections between the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq and the one that is unfolding in New Orleans. Barely a month ago, Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard complained to the media that essential equipment the force had taken to Iraq last October—humvees, high-water vehicles, generators and refuelers—had been left in the country. He stressed that in the event of a serious natural disaster, the lack of the equipment could pose problems in mounting a speedy rescue and relief response.

    The failure of the levee and the flooding of 80 percent of New Orleans are linked to repeated budget cuts carried out by the Bush administration since the war in Iraq began.

    In the 2004 budget, the Army Corps of Engineers requested $11 million for a hurricane protection project in the New Orleans area. It was allotted just half that amount, $5.5 million. In the 2005 budget, the Corps requested $22.5 million, and received one quarter of its request, $5.7 million. In the 2006 budget, the Bush administration proposed an appropriation of just $2.9 million.

  • Patriot1776

    IMPEACH AND IMPRISION

    New Orleans and Baghdad—two sides of the same policy

    As US National Guard troops—just returned from Iraq—moved into New Orleans Friday with “shoot-to-kill” orders, and Blackhawk helicopters flew over the city, the essential unity between the policies pursued by Washington at home and abroad found stark expression.

    Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said half of the 7,000 National Guardsmen arriving in Louisiana had shortly before been serving overseas and were “highly proficient in the use of lethal force.”

    Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared, “They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot to kill… and I expect they will.”

    The reaction of the Bush administration to the catastrophe of its own making in the invasion of Iraq and its response to the disaster unleashed by Hurricane Katrina on the US Gulf Coast have both revealed gross incompetence and a criminal contempt for human life. Both have led to soaring death tolls and immense suffering.

    There are direct connections between the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq and the one that is unfolding in New Orleans. Barely a month ago, Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard complained to the media that essential equipment the force had taken to Iraq last October—humvees, high-water vehicles, generators and refuelers—had been left in the country. He stressed that in the event of a serious natural disaster, the lack of the equipment could pose problems in mounting a speedy rescue and relief response.

    The failure of the levee and the flooding of 80 percent of New Orleans are linked to repeated budget cuts carried out by the Bush administration since the war in Iraq began.

    In the 2004 budget, the Army Corps of Engineers requested $11 million for a hurricane protection project in the New Orleans area. It was allotted just half that amount, $5.5 million. In the 2005 budget, the Corps requested $22.5 million, and received one quarter of its request, $5.7 million. In the 2006 budget, the Bush administration proposed an appropriation of just $2.9 million.

  • harry flashman

    Patriot, the head of the army corps of engineers has expressly stated that the lack of funding did not cause the problem. The breach took place in a part of the levee that was considered sound and had no relation to the proposal which was supposedly (and I’d like further evidence of this) vetoed by Bush. So can we just nail this canard now.

    Katie, in Nagins’ maundering interview he called for “ev’ry goddammed bus” to come to NO, just google the pictures of hundreds of NO school busses, HIS busses!, that lie flooded and useless in the parks. These busses could have evacuated tens of thousands of people but instead they lie rusting and useless, the man’s a clown of the highest order and if he had any decency he’d do the honourable thing now, and no I don’t mean resign.

  • jmc

    The story of incompetence in La and NO gets worse and worse.

    Nagin had at least 500 city and school buses at his immediate disposal before the hurricane hit. The are all currently sitting underwater in bus yards.

    Governors from all over the US offered their National Guard units to the state of La, sent all the paper work to Baton Rouge (the LA. gov has to make a formal request before out of state NG units can move) and Blancos office sat on the paperwork. Thats why there was no NG. Nothing to do with Iraq.

    Things got so bad that the Gov of Wisconsin got creative and got the state of WI to declare an external state emergency so that he could sent his NG to help.

    Well the incompetence of Nagin and Blanco does not matter so much from now on. La and NO have been de-facto federalized as of Friday so the Feds dont have to depend on those bozos anymore.

  • Katie

    WOW! Flashman and jnc… your apologist behavior is astounding. YES new orleans’ hundreds of buses SHOULD have been put to use before the ‘caine, you are right. why were they not? Well EVERY STATE in this country has taken a loss of state aid from federal taxes. Huge tax cuts have taken away the govts ability to spend money on anything but day to day operations, most cities in this country (including yours) cannot justify spending money on something that might happen when they do not have enough money to handle the things that are absolute necessities. New orleans is even more like this because such a HUGE percentage of its population makes so little, there is no abilitiy in NOLA or indeed the whole of the gulf coast to collect local taxes. Because very few people are middle class and pay middle class taxes. and rich people pay a very small percentage of thier income in taxes.

    Now lets pretend for a mo, that nagin HAD started the bus trips. Which, I certainly think he and blanco should have, and deserve to be held accountable for. But bearing that in mind, 500 buses is inadequate to remove a hundred thirty thousand people. in two days. end of story.

    That is part of the reason that FEMA Planned and drilled this scenario in the past years (and long before that) Because NOLA (nor your city, I would imagine)has never had the resources to handle it itself.

    Nat guard sent all that paperwork to Baton rouge, because that is where FEMA is temporarily headquartered to facilitate emergency operations. FEMA is in charge, we do not have mayors and governors and senators to handle huge disasters, they are for day to day life. THAT IS WHY WE HAVE FEMA! Neither the head of FEMA or the head of The homeland security dept have any experience with disasters, or emergency preparedness. And that is why both agencies exist. And why we spend a TON of tax money on them. During 9/11 mayor guliani was briefed every few minutes by FEMA officials. and he acted as the media liason. it seems that this time, mayor nagin was left to coordinate disaster response while the head of FEMA told the nation that everything was under control.

    The Army corps of engineers did not say that lack of funding did not cause the problem, he said that it would not have been fixed yet from last years financial request. therefore absolving bush of the allegations of the times picayune report. but what about other years? Flood control is an important part of infrastructur in a country with so many miles of coastline. we underfunded it. end of story. Katrina was downgraded to a cat four before landfall, and did not hit NOLA with its right quadrants, thereby resulting in a high cat three hurricane. the levees should have held they did not because so much has been built up in the last few years, making the drainage system inadequate for even a weaker caine.

    And jnc, the entire gulf coast was defacto federalized TWO DAYS BEFORE KATRINA MADE LANDFALL. Not friday. Bush declared a national emergency in order to free up federal resources that long ago!

    Trent Lott And Laura Bush and Fox News have all called for private citicens to “Come on Down and help” this is astounding people are getting in thier cars with a chainsaw and some water, and running out of gas halfway into the region, gas stations have run out of gas, and now the overstressed relief organiztions have to contend with hurricane refugees as well as well intentioned volunteers who are now refugees themselves, who were trying to do the right thing. sick.

  • jmc

    Katie

    I suggest you read todays WaPo and read how La resisted at all stages allowing anyone from outside the state from doing anything while at the same time doing damn all to deal with the disaster.

    FEMA legal role is to supply resources when the state and locals ask for it. They can advise and suggest but they cannot control and direct. Thats the law.

    Or they can do what they are now finally now doing, ignore the state and just get on with it.

    How is it that La and NO are screaming bloody murder, demanding the Feds bail them out now, while Miss, which has suffered much worse, is just getting on with digging themselves out of the rubble?

    I know where I want my tax dollars to go, to the poor folk of Miss and Al, not the grasping and corrupt incompetents of La.

    One question Katie – do you actually live in an area that is prone to natural disasters? If you did you should know that is your obligation to make your own preparations for disasters, emergency kit / supplies, plan of escape etc. In California the state and local government emergency preparedness literature all makes it all quite simple – YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN for at least 3 to 5 days and probably longer. So you better be prepared. It is your own personal responsibility to look after yourself.

    And it is the responsibility of the state and local government (not the Feds) to look out for those that cannot. The old, the sick, and the infirmed.

    The selfish, the stupid and the irresponsible dont deserve anyones compassion when catastrophe strikes.

  • Jo

    “The selfish, the stupid and the irresponsible dont deserve anyones compassion when catastrophe strikes.”

    …must be a particularly stupid city then?

    Oh right, I read, its 70% plus black…silly me.
    Better silly than racist, I suppose.

  • jmc

    jo

    No more stupid than any other big city.

    It looks like about 2/3’s left when they could. Of the rest its probabily equally divided between the stupid, the irresponsible and the infirmed.

    I think you are the racist here. I just see lots of stupid and irresponsible people. Stupidity and irresponsiblity is colorblind. Wheras you seem to see ‘victims’ who must not have the wherewithall to look after themselves or make responsible decisions for themselves.

    Dont worry one day you’ll get to see lots of stupid white middle class folk in the same predicament when the big one hits San Francisco. Well to do educated folk who did not make even the most basic provisions for their own survival when the inevitable happens.

    It will be just like NO, minus the water in the streets.

    And guess what, it will take just as long to get the disaster relief act organized. Poor black folk in distress, rich white folk in distress, it does not make any difference. It takes 3 to 5 days to get anything done when the big one hits.

  • 6cprod

    The folks who heeded George Bush’s call to evacuate New Orleans have a lot to thank him for.

    It is obvious that the criminal element of New Orleans made up the majority of those who decided to remain there, and that the local authorities failed miserably in their reponsiblities to use the resources they had to bus out those who wanted to leave.

    Seems to me like the people of New Orleans could learn a lot from the the people of Mississippi, who are also suffering. The following AP report says it all:

    Richard Gibbs was disgusted by reports of looting in New Orleans (search) and upset at the lack of attention hurricane victims in his state were getting.

    “I say burn the bridges and let ’em all rot there,” he said. “We’re suffering over here too, but we’re not killing each other. We’ve got to help each other. We need gas and food and water and medical supplies.

  • Jo

    jmc: youre either racist or you have zero compassion for the poor.

    To blame the human suffering on “stupidity” demonstrates a rather naive attitude at best – something I doubt that those who have posted in the way you have would have dared to articulate about 9-11.

  • Jo

    …and before I get bogged down in allegations of racism again..to see a large group of mostly black people on TV suffering, their children starving and sitting beside corpses and without knowing any or many of them personally in order to make a judgment as to their mental agility or intelligence – to brand that group of people “stupid” is to me, racist.

  • pacart

    Harry Truman had a sign in the Oval Office, “The buck stops here”, I take it G.W. has had it taken down.

  • 6cprod

    The torrent of insinuation, negative reporting and outright falsehoods in relation to George Bush in recent days has been absolutely astounding. It is definitely a new low in the campaign by large media outlets, loopy libs and loony left politicians to undermine the president.

    US conservatives seem to have struggled in knowing how to handle the onslaught. Some have come back at outrageous allegations with their own form of extremism, some have their tail between their legs and are looking for scapegoats other than the president. Others think that if they say nothing, the American public will be turned off by the constant stream of ott Bush-hating reports and accusations.

    It really doesn’t matter, because the majority of Americans are positive, forward-looking people who are more concerned with helping their fellow Americans than being sucked in by hate and fault finding.

    It already looks like the smear campaign against Bush has failed. A poll by ABC and the Wash Post covered in an article entitled Poll: Bush Not Taking Brunt of Katrina Criticism, brings this out. The State/Local government comes out very poorly in the poll, and Bush gets a positive 55% rating in relation to blame. (The other 45% are probably mostly Democrats who would hate Bush no matter what he did or didn’t do)

    Common sense and reason once again wins the day. I look forward to watching Americans all along the Gulf coast rebound from this disaster. God bless America.

  • jmc

    Jo

    You are the one who is associating race and socio-economic status, not me.

    70% of NO are black. 33% of NO are classified as poor. You are the one who is assuming that all the poor are black. I am not.

    Yes blacks in NO are more likely to be poor than whites but there are lots of poor whites in NO too.

    My guess is that you live in an well to do area which is mostly white, so the only minorities you see are the less well off. I lived for many years in San Francisco where whites were just another minority, and there was no real strong correlation between race and income or socio-economic status. The city is full of rich and poor people of every race.

    So I dont immediately assume that all those people caught up in the nightmare of NO are poor just because they are black. Although I did notice that those who were complaining loudest all looked like Section 8’s to me.

    My years in SF have given me an immense respect for the incredible hard work, fortitude and self-respect of the asians and hispanics, and a deep contempt for the overweening condescension of the ‘lefty’ middle class whites towards “minorities”.

  • 6cprod

    those who were complaining loudest all looked like Section 8’s to me. What is Section 8, jmc?

  • JOCKY

    jmc, keithm, bushes handlingy of this catastrophe has been wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start.

    From telling people ot use “personal responsibility” when they have not had food or water for days smacks of a lack of basic compassion and understanding. The majority of the looting has been for food, bar the few stock shots run over and over again on the media. Even the police have joined in the looting in some cases, some have just left.

    Strangely if you leave a city to junkies and gangs crime happens. The surprising thing is why there hasnt been more coinsidering the numbers involved and the desperation. This is one factor that was not accounted for in any emergency plans, why not get the army in sooner? It doesn’t take 5 days to fly in troops to keep law and order.

    Perhaps Bushes biggest mistake was replacing the much respected James Lee Witt as director of FEMEA with his campaign manager. Bush even new he was Witt was good but replaced him with his buddy. Strangely enough the Lousiana governor hired him on Saturday to help them out, maybe why Louisana isnt making the same healdines as N.O.

    And what the D.O.H.S for? a dept than now dwarfs FEMA?

    DO you honestly think Bush is exempt for any criticism?

  • Katie

    My God where are all you people coming from? Do you work for the bush admin or what?

    I do happen to live in a disaster prone area, and have a very comprehensive disaster kit at my home, a smaller one in my car and one in my office. I also happen to have worked as an emergency planner for a level one trauma center.

    These people may or may not have had hurricane preparedness kits, but they were DESTROYED IN THE FLOOD IF THEY DID!!! So the fact that they possessed them meant basically nothing.

    There are complaints from Missisppi and Alabama, Fairly frequent ones in fact. but since they did not have the prolonged flooding, more of thier food supply was salvageable. Thus it took days longer to reach critical panic point. They also did not have any communities with such a high population concentration, which also led to this.

    The criminal element of NOLA was indeed left behind as well, but THEY WERE NOT THE MAJORITY!!!! or even a large minority. They were a small amount. Community leaders who were also left behind actually ORGANIZED looting rings, many of those kids you saw on TV pushing shopping carts full of different sized shoes, were looting them to bring back to the shelters, as the people who were being rescued by other community leaders in thier personal watercraft were not always wearing any. there was a lot of looting of portable radios, clothing, flashlights, air mattresses, etc as well as food. Things useful for survival. And keeping up the breaking down morale.

    Community leaders from within NOLAstarted up soup kitchens, feeding hundreds of people as long as they could, on looted food. Keeping people ALIVE.

    The shirtless back kid pounding through the store door with a 2 by 4 you keep seeing on TV, Is looting a deli, which you can see on the networks that actually show the panning out shot that the videographer made sure to include.

    NEW ORLEANS has the LARGEST percentage of non car owners of ALL major american cities, if you are poor enough not to own a car, it is likely that your friends and family are in the same position. Even those who did, this hit at the end of the month, Two days before rent is due and likely after it had been paid, it is not a time when even the middle and upper classes have a lot of extra money. But they have enough to get themselves out. Poor people usually do not have ANY extra at rent payday.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but you and I both know that when the big one hits LA, large pockets of thousands of people WILL BE GIVEN FOOD AND WATER BY AIR. Isolated people trapped in thier homes will not likely get that assistance as quickly, but giant mobs on the streets will be fed and watered. So drop the Los angeleans wouldn’t be doing this crap. Because they would!

    Any large mass of people who are cut of from food and water will be looting as soon as the food runs out, after the looting begins in earnest, more panic will set in and real crime will start. It will spiral into total anarchy rapidly. I do not care if it is 50 thousand poor back people or 50,000 lutheran ministers. It will happen.

    this was horribly mismanaged, end of story, Miss and Ala agree with that. It is not just LA that has complaints. The complaints from LA were definately more urgent, and therefor louder.

    We f$%^ed up.

  • foreign correspondent

    Explain to me, Bushistas, how the US government/military is able to fight wars on the other side of the world with all the logistics involved in that, and yet is incapable of immediately helping people trapped in a city on its own territory? It´s a bloody disgrace and that´s all there is to it.

  • circles

    “The folks who heeded George Bush’s call to evacuate New Orleans have a lot to thank him for.

    It is obvious that the criminal element of New Orleans made up the majority of those who decided to remain there, and that the local authorities failed miserably in their reponsiblities to use the resources they had to bus out those who wanted to leave.”

    6cp: What utter, ignorant nonsense. The “folks” who managed to leave were the “folks” with cars or money for plane tickets (try leaving where you live for a far away place with no money!!). The majority of the people who “decided” in reality could not decide – they just could not afford to leave. The fact that these people were predominantly african-american is a shameful indictment of u.s.american society, which still has not opened the doors of opportunity to black people

  • jmc

    Katie

    I’m glad to hear that you take your personal responsibilities seriously regarding disaster preparedness. Me too.

    But what about all those people who dont? Or cannot?

    Who is responsible for looking after them immediately after the big one hits?

    The Feds? The State? The City? Themselves?

    The legal chain of responsibility in the US is very clear. First the city, the state, then the Feds. All disaster management plans are organized around the simple fact that FEMA takes 3 to 4 days to stage the massive resources needed for rare catastrophic disasters. The role of the state and city is to manage the first 3 to 4 days.

    So who is directly responsible planning and executing the evacuation of all those people without car you keep going on about. The city of NO. Did the city of have control of a large fleet of buses? It did. More than 600. Did the city state in its disaster plan that the city buses where to evacuate those who did not have transportation. It did. Did the city of NO try to evacuate anyone? Looks like it did not. All the buses are in sitting yards under several feet of water.

    Is it the Feds fault that the city of NO was grossly negligent? Definitely not.

    If my house burns down because of my negligence is this somehow the city or states fault because it did not pervent me from being negligent? I dont think so.

    OK the storm hits, the canal breaks, and we now have a slow motion disaster, not the instant flood expected. What does the city of NO do for the people stuck in NO? Nothing. What does the state do? Nothing. And when the Red Cross tried to go in and help these people the La N.G stopped them. Why? Because they were never suppose to go to the dome and the convention center in the first place. Nagin was told repeatedly not to tell people to go to the dome because it was just going to compound the disaster, and create a whole new disaster. Which is exactly what it did.

    And somehow this is FEMA’s fault. If you read the reports of the scanner traffic in NO while this disaster was unfolding it sure sounded like the FEMA reps were waiting for the city officials to make a decision, any decision, and the city chain of command quite simple collapsed as people walked away from their jobs and responsibilities,

    Regarding the looting in NO I dont buy the “there doing it because they are poor” argument. Lots of poor people in Miss and they are not looting. The looting happened because the NO police and La governor abrogated their responsibilities and lets the situation spiral out of control, and because NO already was a vicious crime ridden city to start with.

    And if you think I am just picking on NO, the same type of people will be looting in SF and LA after the big one hits. And I’m not talking about foraging for food and water, I’m talking systematic looting.

    Air drops of food in LA? Sounds fanciful. You are not going to feed millions of people with air-drops. I dont know about LA’s plan but I know that the SF plan is a complete shambles. Just read the civil grand jury report from 2001 and it does not take much imagination to predict just how quickly the city government of SF will totally collapse when the next big earthquake hits.

    Just like it did in 1906.

    Of course 1906 was all Teddy Roosevelts fault…

  • 6cprod

    The rabid over-reaction of blinkered Bush-haters to Katrina defies logic, but, I suppose, it only reflects the ridiculous condition of America’s lunatic left. All the ludicrous twisting of the facts to suit their political agenda is starting to come back in their faces.

    Now that we are a little more informed about the whole situation, we are starting to get a clearer picture of a catastrophic failure of government, primarily at local level. Of course there is no excuse for the dithering ineptitude of the State government, and also the failings and sluggishness of the federal response, but simple, basic actions which could have saved many lives were left undone by the authorities in New Orleans.

    Is this a smoking gun, Mr Democratic Mayor of New Orleans?

    The southeast Louisiana evacuation plan states:

    5. The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.

    A clear, irrefutable example of sheer incompetence by local government officials. Hundreds of school buses,
    (high resolution photos) which could have been used to help save thousands of lives, sitting in feet of water, with their fuel now polluting and endangering the surrounding area! Not used even once to try to get people out of the city. An absolute and intolerable disgrace!

  • SlugFest

    A bit offpoint, but worthy nonetheless:

    In case you guys missed it, CNN (UK version) just aired a gay pride parade in NO — can’t remember the exact name of the parade, but it’s an annual event. While only two dozen or so people showed up, it was extremely heartening to see them dance/march through the French Quarter. Even if you’ve never visited the city, you must realize that those two dozen people are the heart of the city.

  • Jocky

    6cprod, I think there’s plenty of blame to go round. Its not all Bush and i’s not all the Govenors fault. Claiming either way is an drastic over simplification. It will take months to find out what went wrong.

    From N.O. complete lack of preparedness to manage the catastrophe, the knew they be on their own for 3/4 days, the Superdome plan, the fact the police force is operating at 1/3 capacity, the late call for evacuation.

    To FEMA and DOHD dropping the ball, the fact that TV news crews new more about what was oging on than either o fthese agencies, the myriad of red tape that’s stopped other states sending help, The fact after 3 days they weren’t stepping in. Both of these are key appointments by Bush that he has bungled.

    Probably most damaging from Bush is that he was satisifed with the response, then you see on TV Americans dieing in the streets. I dont know about you but Id expect more from a President. Why did it take so long to sort out the conflict between State and Federal repsonse. where was the Leadership?

    After 9/11 America was supposed to be equipped to respond to another large scale disaster and they’ve been found badly wanting at all levels.

    The fall out will be longer than the human relief effort, the countries economy will be hammered by the break in gas production due to the flood.

  • Katie

    jnc

    I haven’t the energy to keep responding to your blatant ignorance, and excuse making.

    but I do have a question, why Is it “Fanciful” of me to assume food drops are possible?

    Is it “Fanciful” of me to assume that just because we have done it literally THOUSANDS of times in the past, In just about every country in the world. most recently in Iraq and the tsunami countries, where our and our felllow world citizens’ armed svcs were literally able to drop hundreds and hundreds of thousands of TONS of food, right from thier helicopters!

    IS it Fanciful of me to think that just because we pay taxes to buy this equipment, and pay these servicemen, and currently have a war on, meaning production of rations is at a high, that our own countrymen could have expected food drops?

    Or is it “Fanciful” of you to make up every possible reason that you can to avoid acknowledging the horrendous human price we have paid?

  • jmc

    Katie

    It is fanciful because when the next catastrophic earthquake hits the LA basis, we are not talking like Northridge here, we are talking like Fort Tejon in 1857, the area of devastation will be just like Katrina, maybe about the size of the state of Oregon. And air-dropping 5 ton pallets of the back of C-130 is not going to make one iota of difference to the relief effort. It will take relief worker 5 to 10 days just to reach some of the highly populated areas in the basin, let alone set up triage and relief centers.

    My point all alone has been very simple, when a big catastrophe hits, even if the people responsible for first response dont fold, they will never be enough resources in the first few days to help those who really cannot help themselves, the old, the sick the infirmed. So having large numbers of able-bodied people who were too stupid or irresponsible to heed the warning diverts the limited resources from those who really need them.

    And the old, sick and infirmed are the first to die, not the able-bodied.

    My compassion is for those who could not help themselves, and who were betrayed and abandoned by the city and state whose legal duty was to look after them. My compassion is for who evacuated and have lost everything, or those who evacuated and who will be homeless for the foreseeable future. My compassion is for those who did ride out the storm, lost everything, and who have shown immense dignity and fortitude in the aftermath, not trying to blame anyone for their adversity, or whining about their fate. For those who chose to put themselves in harms way, and then expect others to rescue them, well, I afraid I dont have much compassion left.

  • Katie

    Well jmc, its clear you have a compassion deficit, you are not a fully functional person. God will sort you out in the end.

    I am not going to bother answering all of your points because I think I have answered them all in previous posts. And discussing this with you is making me phyisically ill.

  • 6cprod

    The Washington Post has a few interesting comments that might shed some light in the blame game (which Bush-haters started):

    …Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.

    The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night…

    The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night…

    What an incredible bunch of politicians (Democrats, I presume), they have in Louisiana. The mayor doesn’t follow the contingency plan for evacuation and fails to use hundreds of buses to get people out, and the governor doesn’t want federal intervention, and then, they have the impertinence to turn around and blame the president for the ensuing chaos!

    Hope you are feeling better Katie. I will have a lot of compassion for the good folks of LA if these two idiots remain in their positions.

  • Katie

    6cprod

    read what you wrote. The LA nat guard and police used EVERY resource ot thier disposal and were the ONLY poeple in the entire fiasco who were getting a goddamned thing done. as FEMA dragged thier feet for days, LA svcs rescued thousands, and kept order as best they could, even at thier own peril, the LA authorities had thier own hurricane tragedies to deal with, yet the soldiered on wiith rescue efforts, siphoned petrol to run thier OWN PERSONAL equipment (Boats, and vehicles, not NOLA equipment) and did some looting themselves, for the common good. And Nagin and Blanco BEGGED FOR HELP FROM THE FEDS. Louisiana did not posess enough bodies to do everything, but really they were the only ones doing ANYTHING. for DAYS. When FEMA had bungled things so badly, they suddenly wanted blanco to hand over charge of the ONLY productive method of services, she said no, and I stand behind her decision. At no time did Blanco have control of resources from anyone other than her own state. There are 49 other states worth of svcs that blanco NEVER HAD ANY JURISDICTION OVER. THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT WERE TOO LATE.

  • harry flashman

    Katie, I’m sorry did you say the cops “looted for the common good”? I’m sorry if I misinterpreted you but that’s staggering. Google New Orleans police Looting Wal Mart, it’ll make for interesting viewing. You’ll see the video of the two women cops casually pushing a shopping cart and filling it with sneakers, electronics etc. when the tv reporter comes up to them one walks away embarassed muttering how she’s looking for looters, another photo will show another cop walking out of Wal Mart with a big grin and a handful of cds, have a look it won’t make pleasant viewing.

    The New Orleans police department was already the most corrupt and most incompetent force in the US before the flood, after as many as one third abandoned their posts (compare and contrast 9/11 in NYC).

    Now the guy at the top of this greasy poll was your noble friend Ray Nagins, who was one of the first in with the Blame Bush bleat. Compare his behaviour with Guilliani and see how a competent mayor deals with a sudden catastrophe (except that in NO it had been predicted for decades). Compare the whiny incompetent response of the Governor with that of her neighbours in Texas, Missisippi and Alabama (has anyone even examined the devastation in Gulfport and Biloxi?) and even California where well organised efficient relief efforts were immediately put in place.

    Now I’m glad the Dems are calling for a congressional inquiry, nost supporters of the president would say bring it on. I guarantee you when a cold hard examination is made of this tragedy the politicians who will be proven to be the most useless ever conceived will have “D” after their name.

  • Katie

    Harry Flashman, you are right, the republicans will call for a national inquiry, Low level new orleans officials will be found responsible for the entire fiasco, not unlike the prison abuse scandals. Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellog Brown and Root will be found to be the ONLY company with the “ability to handle” such a large undertaking as the rebuilding of the gulf coast, The lions share of our taxes will continue to fall into the bottomless pit that is the dept of homeland security, and we will be back to square one. The next disaster will hit and the results will be the same. Indonesia will continue to be more adept at handling an emergency than our country which spends 20 percent of its tax base on “preparedness”

    Give the cops a break, the NO police may well have some corruption, MOST police departments do, from the US to the PSNI. Yet despite that, they managed to keep 2/3 of them on the job for a 7 day nightmare shift, saving literally thousands of lives, serving even though thier own lives were altered forever. Serving even though they themselves had to scrounge for food and Petrol, and use thier own personal watercraft and cars. they served for a week without a shower, or a nights sleep. Would you have done better?

  • Katie

    The earthquake struck at 5:13 AM. 1906.

    By 7 AM federal troops had reported to the mayor.

    By 8 AM they were patrolling the entire downtown area and searching for survivors.

    The second quake struck at 8:14 AM.

    By 10:05 AM the USS Chicago was on its way from San Diego to San Francisco; by 10:30 the USS Preble had landed a medical team and set up an emergency hospital.

    By 11 AM large parts of the city were on fire; troops continued to arrive throughout the day, evacuating people from the areas threatened by fire to emergency shelters and Golden Gate Park.

    St. Mary’s hospital was destroyed by the fire at 1 PM, with no loss of life, the staff and patients having already been evacuated across the bay to Oakland.

    By 3 PM troops had shot several looters, and dynamited buildings to make a firebreak; by five they had buried dozens of corpses, the morgue and the police pistol range being unable to hold any more.

    At 8:40 PM General Funston requested emergency housing – tents and shelters – from the War Department in Washington; all of the tents in the U.S. Army were on their way to San Francisco by 4:55 AM the next morning.

    Prisoners were evacuated to Alcatraz, and by April 20 (two days after the earthquake) the USS Chicago had reached San Francisco, where it evacuated 20,000 refugees.

    I cannot vouch for the truth of this as, I found it linked with another blog, and have not followed this one before, but hmm… how interesting.

  • jmc

    katie

    I have just as much compassion as you do for the victims, the difference is that I live in the real world, the world of the way things really work, not the fantasy world of the way things should or aught to be. You cannot just wave a magic wand and make people do the right thing or obstructions disappear.

    I remember vividly the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 where the city government of SF came very close to total collapse in what was really in relatively minor disaster. We were very very lucky in ’89. The ground shaking only lasted 15 sec, not the 45 secs that an earthquake of that magnitude normally lasts. If it had lasted the full 45 secs a lot of big buildings would have come down, a lot more freeways and bridges would have failed, big chunks of the city would have burnt down, and Katrina would today be vying with the Great ‘Quake of ’89 as the most deadly natural disaster since the Galveston Flood.

    I was really shocked when the true story of complete anarchy that engulfed the city government in the first 48 hours came out months later. How only the cool levelheadedness of the mayor, Art Agnos, stopped the whole sorry crew spiraling into total collapse. And just how bad things would have got if the full force of the earthquake had hit.

    So when I look at the appalling mess in NO it looks all too familiar. Except NO did not have an Art Agnos to save them.

    And it will happen the next time too. Because the Feds will not be given the legal power to over rule incompetent and irresponsible state and local governments, because FEMA will not and cannot be reformed, and because the state and locals governments will not tell the blunt truth to their constituents about the grim realities of the aftermath of a major disaster, or the costs of properly preparing the city or county for those once a generation catastrophes.

    But the main reason it will happen again is because too many people refuse to accept the first law of catastrophic disasters.

    YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS.

    If the Feds, state and local government just pounded on that simple message loud enough and long enough so that everyone really understood it and acknowledged it, just think how many lives that would save next time around.

    No amount of planning or preparation can negate this law of disasters. Just look at the total fiasco in Kobe in 1995. The Japanese government had lots of plans, drills and prepositioned resources and still when the big one hit everything immediately fell apart and the citizens of Kobe had to fend for themselves.

  • jmc

    Katie

    Your time-line for the 1906 earthquake relief is completely spurious.

    I dont know where it came from but if does not fit with the story told by any of the history books and papers written on this event I’ve ever read, and I’ve read quite a few, including the civil engineering reports. If you want refs I’ve got refs.

    The real story is *one* earthquake (and a bunch of aftershocks), a profoundly corrupt city government and mayor ( Schmitz ) which complete fell apart, the early death of the one competent city leader (the fire-chief Sullivan), the complete collapse of the police and fire-dept, very wide-spread structural damage from the earthquake, and then within a few hours wide spread fires mostly set for insurance reasons (the laws suits went on for years afterwards).

    Within 24 hours large parts of the city were aflame suffering wide-spread looting, all civil order had ceased. With events spiraling out of control and most of the city government having fled or abandoned their posts the acting commander at the Presidio, Gen. Function unilaterally declared martial law and himself in control (and they were arguing about that one for years afterwards)

    Funston commandeered everything and everyone, sent out large numbers of troops with shoot to kill orders, and gave the orders to start blowing up large amounts of property to act as fire-brakes. Any civilian who interfered with the army going about it business was to be shot, anyone looting was to be shot, anyone with property that looked like it was looted was to be shot.

    Result several hundred people were shot. One number I’ve seen is as high as 300.

    Eventual the fire blew itself out, the fire brakes helped but it was a wind change that eventually stopped the fire, and then it was several weeks before any large scale organized relief efforts got under-way.

    The city then pretended it was just really a bit fire, that only 600 died, and really things had not been that bad after all. And so what if Mayor Schmitz only avoided jail a few years later because of jury tampering.

    A very different story from the time-line you quoted, but a typical San Francisco one.

  • Jocky

    Some more blame going about, FEMA is coping a lot. Extracts from a Washington Post Article.

    “While Chertoff said the levee breach that flooded New Orleans “exceeded the foresight of planners,” Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said Brown and other top federal officials were briefed as much as 32 hours in advance of landfall that Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge was likely to overtop levees and cause catastrophic flooding.

    “They knew that this one was different,” Mayfield said yesterday. “I don’t think Mike Brown or anyone else in FEMA could have any reason to have any problem with our calls. . . . They were told. . . . We said the levees could be topped.”

    Louisiana officials have blamed FEMA and Brown for bureaucratic bottlenecks, accusing FEMA of ignoring pre-storm offers of aid from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and the American Ambulance Association.

    In his last extended TV interview on CNN, Brown admitted Thursday that the federal government did not know that thousands of survivors without food or water had taken shelter at the city’s convention center, despite a day of news reports.

    Since then, Brown has been eclipsed by his boss, Chertoff — who flew overnight Sunday to take charge of integrating military with civilian efforts — and by a new deputy, U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, whom Chertoff named yesterday to take charge of federal recovery efforts in New Orleans.

    Bruce P. Baughman, Alabama emergency management director, head of the National Emergency Management Association and the official in charge of FEMA’s response to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks in 2001, said Katrina will leave its mark on federal disaster management. “It’s time to realize, whoever is in charge of FEMA does need an emergency management background. . . . It’s something you learn by experience, and a lot of that experience is gone,” he said.”

    Pretty daming stuff. On the 1st of September Bush had this to say on ABC’s Good Morning America, Sept. 1, 2005 “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

    Which at best shows that he was incredibley badly briefed and isnt bright enough to figure it out himself, or at worst a bare faced liar.

    Even if your an ardent Republican the Federal response to Katrina should be a major cause for concern. Just what were FEMA and the DoHD doing?

    As I said previous, plenty of blame to go round.

  • 6cprod

    Truce!

    If you are tired of leftwing lunacy, checkout the excellent Katrina timeline from the folks at Right Wing Nut House.

    Honestly, it’s an attempt to establish an objective and accurate timeline, despite the self-deprecating site name.

    They are not used to so much traffic to their site, so it might be a little slow in loading.

  • Katie

    Guys ,
    it took untl saturday for Federal authorities to respond to the disaster. The Federal government DOES DOES DOES DOES have the power to just go on in if the president orders them, to pretend they don’t is really stupid. The storm hit on monday. the warning became federal on the friday or saturday previous( I cannot remember which but oither way, it is bad) This means there were either 7 or 8 days until the THOUSANDS, perhaps tens of thousands of people in the convention center to get water. There were reporters who literally took CABS into the city center, yet the army was unable to? Come on guys. THINK.

    The hurricane and subsequent floods DESTROYED any existing food supplies.

    WE HAD THE ABILITY TO PREVENT THIS AND WE DID NOT.

    Make excuses all you want but bear in mind Bush apologists, this means that the terrorists you are so terrified of that you elected this “security president” ( that means complete idiot in normal people talk) could probably take out a full page ad in every major newspaper telling us when where and how they will attack, and we still could not respond properly. You people are FOOLS. Total IDIOTS.

    I have actually worked in disaster preparedness and this response was unnaceptable by any standards. Even a lay person should be able to see that. And most do. But you guys would stand by while that dipsh$% shot an entire primary school point blank in the head in front of you, and even if they were your own kids, you would believe any excuse he gave you.

    You have allowed one black kid with a stolen TV set become the focus of your rage because you know something went wrong there but you are unable to focus your rage where it belongs, on those responsible.

  • jmc

    Katie

    > The Federal government DOES DOES DOES DOES have
    > the power to just go on in if the president orders
    > them, to pretend they don’t is really stupid.

    This statement is completely wrong. You really need to brush up the legal framework of the United States. The US is a FEDERAL system, and what that means is that until REQUESTED by the State, except in the case of War, attack or armed insurrection, the Feds have only limited power to overrule the jurisdiction of the state, and disaster and emergency response is under the jurisdiction of the state. On Friday night Bush finally invoked one of the new federal powers passed post 9/11 to involve the Feds in area of State jurisdiction because the state of La was resisting so bitterly to any federalization of the disaster area.

    For someone who claims to have worked in in disaster preparedness you seem to be remarkable ignorant of the way it is organized, at the local, state and federal level, and how it works, the constraints it works under, and the time scales for response from the different levels when a major catastrophe happens.

    Or is it that your states and local governments disaster preparedness is just as a big a shamble as La and NO and you are you are terrified about what will happens if a big disaster hits your city? Maybe you desperately want the Feds to save you from the incompetence of your state and local government?

    Your understandable and commendable compassion for the terrible suffering that has happened has blinded to a very simple fact, lashing out at the Feds just because it seems like you dont like the administration and the President does absolutely nothing to help prevent the next big major catastrophe being a rerun of NO. Would events have been any different under a President Kerry? Or Clinton? I dont think so.

    You want to prevent a ghastly fiasco like NO happened again. Then grow up. And stop hurling personal abuse at those who are politely pointing out that hysterically crying “something must be done, something must be done” does not get anything done. In fact it is just self-righteous self-indulgence.

    Stop blaming the Feds. You want to stop needless thousands more people in the future from dying horrible deaths then lets make sure that all city and state governments (the people with primary responsibility) not only have disaster plans but have actual have worked out how to implement those plans.

    Get FEMA out of Homeland Security and recognize that as a federal bureaucracy it will always be a slow lumbering and dim witted beast. Put in a few simple fast track procedures for really big disasters and that will at least negate 80% of the problems with FEMA.

    Got any better ideas.

  • 6cprod

    ‘I have actually worked in disaster preparedness’

    Katie, as one who has some experience in this field, you would know that it takes a long time, a lot of effort, and a lot of input from a variety of experts to develop effective evacuation plans and procedures.

    So, tell me, Katie, was it a wise decision by the mayor to ignore the detailed contingency plans developed by people like yourself, and, shooting from the hip, as it were, arbitrarily come up with one of his own at a moment’s notice?