Thursday, March 2, 2006

He Knew What to Expect

So now we have visual proof that he was informed of the potential danger of Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, even though he said a few days (and weeks and months) later that no one had any way of knowing the degree of devastation that could happen.
A newly leaked video recording of high-level government deliberations the day before Hurricane Katrina hit shows disaster officials emphatically warning President Bush that the storm posed a catastrophic threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and a grim-faced Bush personally assuring state leaders that his administration was "fully prepared" to help....

"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 and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," Bush said, gesturing with both hands for emphasis on the digital recording. Neither Bush nor Hagin asked questions, however....

"This is, to put it mildly, the big one," Brown said. "Everyone within FEMA is now virtually on call."

Brown warned that thousands of New Orleans residents were gathering in a shelter of last resort at the Louisiana Superdome, which he said was about 12 feet below sea level.

"I don't know what the heck we're going to do for that, and I also am concerned about that roof," Brown said. "Not to be kind of gross here, but I'm concerned about [medical and mortuary disaster team] assets and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."...

Brown, in an interview yesterday, agreed that Bush was engaged in the emergency but said the president was overconfident of FEMA's capabilities. He dismissed as "baloney" assertions by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that "a fog of war" impaired decision making in Washington.

"There was this fog of bureaucracy," Brown said, repeating his call to restore FEMA to independent, Cabinet-level status outside the department. "People either didn't want to know about it, or didn't want to deal with it."...

In New Orleans, Mayor C. Ray Nagin (D) was visibly shocked when shown the recording by reporters.

It "seems they were aware of everything . . . that we would need lots of help," Nagin said after a post-Mardi Gras news conference. "Why was the response so slow?"

When the video ended, Nagin turned away and said, "Oh, God."

Why was the response so slow? Do incompetence and partisanship come to mind? This is so blatantly and cynically a government of the special interests, by the special interests, for the special interests. In everything this administration has done, there has not been one instance of an action taken for the better good of this country or its citizens.

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