Rene — Tapes reveal Bush knew that Katrina could swamp city

Topic(s): Katrina | Comments Off on Rene — Tapes reveal Bush knew that Katrina could swamp city

I am not sure why I am posting this, given the fact that I feel like this is precisely the kind of news that makes us believe that truth is hidden from us, then prevails, usually from the wonders of the press…most people know that Bush knew, the question is, how is it that from all appearances, very little can be done about it? -rg
Tapes reveal Bush knew that Katrina could swamp city
The Times March 03, 2006
>>From Tom Baldwin in Washington
FRESH charges of incompetence and dissembling were laid at the door of
the White House yesterday after the release of tapes which show George
Bush being warned about Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact before
the storm hit New Orleans. The disclosure contradicts the President’s
subsequent claim that “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach
of the levees” which flooded the city.
A Democrat senator, Joseph Lieberman, said that the tape “demonstrates
that government at all levels was forewarned of the catastrophic
nature of the storm and did little to be ready to evacuate, search,
rescue and relieve”.
More than 1,300 people were killed by Katrina in Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. But six months on, the issue is
refusing to disappear any more than the wreckage of broken homes that
still litters much of the Gulf Coast.
A House of Representatives committee concluded last month that the
response to Katrina at all levels of government was poorly planned
and badly co-ordinated.
Tapes and transcripts of briefings last August show Mr Bush being told
in detail about Katrina’s potential deadly impact and hearing an expert
express “grave concerns” about the ability of the levees to withstand
the hurricane. They also show that the President asked no questions.
“My gut tells me . . . this is a bad one,” Michael Brown, then chief
of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told a government
briefing the day before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. He cautioned
that there might not be enough disaster teams on the ground to help
Mr Bush, who appears in a video from a narrow, windowless room at
his Texas ranch, is shown saying: “I want to assure the folks at the
state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during
the storm but . . . after the storm. And we pray for no loss of life.”
Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, makes a cameo
appearance shortly before he left for a conference on bird flu
in Atlanta.
Last night, in a sign of White House anxiety on the subject, officials
travelling with Mr Bush in India released a lengthy rebuttal about
the pre-Katrina videoconference.
Trent Duffy, the President’s spokesman, said that the transcripts were
made available to the Congressional inquiry last autumn. “President
Bush participated in briefings, phone calls and conversations
throughout this process,” he said. “He has made clear as recently as
Tuesday that he was not satisfied with the Federal response. That is
why he ordered a comprehensive ‘lessons learned’ report and plans to
work aggressively to implement improvements to our disaster response
Homeland Security officials have said that the “fog of war”
blinded them early on to the scale of the disaster. But the video
and transcripts show they discussed threats, reviewed long-standing
plans and understood that Katrina would wreak devastation of historic
proportions. “I’m sure it will be the top ten or fifteen when all
is said and done,” Max Mayfield, of the National Hurricane Centre,
predicted on the day the storm hit the Gulf Coast.
Mr Brown, who was forced to quit in the aftermath of the disaster,
said: “I don’t buy the ‘fog of war’ defence. It was a fog of
bureaucracy.” He added: “I don’t know how [Bush] couldn’t understand
how bad it was or bad it could be.”
Senior Republicans fear that the disclosure will further damage the
President, as well as Republicans before congressional elections
in November.
Missed messages
“I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully
prepared to not only help you during the storm . . . but we will move
in whatever resources we have after the storm to help you deal with
the loss of property. And we pray for no loss of life, of course”
Mr Bush the day before Katrina struck
“My gut tells me . . . this is a bad one and a big one” Michael
D. Brown, then director of FEMA
“They’re not taking patients out of hospitals, taking prisoners out
of prisons and they’re leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So
I’m very concerned about that” Mr Brown
“I’m concerned about the medical and mortuary resources and their
ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe” Mr Brown
“I don’t think any model can tell you with any confidence right now
whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a
grave concern” Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Centre
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees” Mr Bush,
four days after Katrina struck