Caught on Tape
Posted on Mar 4, 2006
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.
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.