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Ear to the Ground

Caught on Tape

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Posted on Mar 4, 2006
bush_katrina_war_room
AP

A screenshot from a video of briefings by FEMA and the president on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. The video was obtained by the Associated Press.

Washington Post:

ON THE DAY before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, federal emergency officials warned President Bush that the hurricane could be “the big one,” the storm the region had long feared; that the Superdome, the shelter of last resort in New Orleans, was below sea level and might well lose its roof; that medical and mortuary teams might not be prepared; and that the levees might not hold back the floodwaters. Mr. Bush, speaking during a videoconference, a tape of which was obtained by the Associated Press, responded by reassuring state officials that “we are fully prepared.”

Without a doubt, the tape provides evidence that the White House received ample warning of the catastrophe. Yet within days of that videoconference, Mr. Bush would excuse the federal government’s extraordinarily poor performance by telling an interviewer that “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” Moreover, at the time of the conference the White House had no idea whether federal emergency services were truly prepared.

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By ann, March 4, 2006 at 10:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People are being led to believe that the government cannot “get the job done”  Yet ours is, in theory, a government by, of and for the people. 

  It is not the people who are incapable.  It is the elected officials who do not represent the people who are proving incapable.

  Remember, even before his appointment, the Bush administration handed the screening of potential appointees over to the Heritage Foundation.  They obviously screened for people who share their core belief that government, aka, the people, are bad.

  And for the Heritage Foundation we are bad.  We believe in a healthy environment.  Because if you have no environment you have no economy.  You don’t even have a life if the environment is bad.  But a healthy environment means less corporate profit. Bad for business.  Can’t have that.

  The Heritage Foundation must be doing the screening at the World Bank also.  According to an article in this mornings AL-AHRAM, published in Cairo:


      “What a shame
      The cronyism of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank is ruining the
      institution and driving the best of its staff out, writes Mohamed Hakki*”

Obviously, not content to destroy the security of the United States, the neocons have moved on.

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By Paul, March 4, 2006 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Post’s editorial is pathetic, and the newspaper should be ashamed of itself. The bit you *don’t* cite smothers the point you cite by equating Bush’s straightforward lies and gross negligence with errors that were made on the ground in the midst of the crisis by the Louisiana Governor and the New Orleans Mayor.

It’s a false equation, obviously: people *do* make mistakes when coping with a disaster. (The Governor’s “error” that the Post points a finger at is that three hours after the levees had been breached she didn’t know this—as if somehow she’s to blame for the kind of communications lapse that occurs during any major disaster.) But that’s a whole lot different from (a) knowing disaster was imminent and responding to the information by going off on holiday for a few days, and (b) lying repeatedly afterwards about the state of one’s knowledge.

What the AP tapes show conclusively is that our President lied to us. The Post should state this unequivocally, not try to obscure his crime.

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By hglindquist, March 4, 2006 at 5:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ah yes, Katrina ...

What did the President know and when did he know it?

Again the question of the moment ... and answered already.

If our boy president was forewarned of the possible (probable?) catastrophic damage from “the hurricane bearing down on New Orleans” before the storm hit, why did he go off on those “political” jaunts instead of taking care of buiness? (Do the timeline, folks!)

Because, dear friends and readers, he really is as dumb as we are beginning to realize.

And he has never had to earn a leadership role so he does not have a clue on the responsibility of leadership.

The leader sets the response level. The bottom-level grunts can’t kick the mid-level people—those above them and below the President—into gear. That isn’t how it works. The tone and attitude comes from the top.

If the President isn’t taking something seriously, why should anyone else stick their neck out and become a General Shinseki? Best be a Colin Powell. (If they are looking for a metaphor for their career in government.)

Maybe even a Condi Rice.

Nobody wants to be a Rumsfeld even if it works for you.

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