Aaron Broussard's WalMart story discredited

In a tearful appearance on Sunday's Meet the Press, the president of Jefferson Parish, Aaron Broussard, alleged:

Superdome horror stories: apocryphal or true?

The Guardian asks whether some of the horror stories coming out of the Superdome are fact or fiction.
Unfortunately, "Mayor says Katrina may have claimed more than 10,000 lives. Bodies found piled in freezer at Convention Center" has confirmation of some of these incidents:

Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.
"Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man."
Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man.
"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."
He moved on, walking quickly through the darkness, pulling his camouflage shirt to his face to screen out the overwhelming odor.
"There's an old woman," he said, pointing to a wheelchair covered by a sheet. "I escorted her in myself. And that old man got bludgeoned to death," he said of the body lying on the floor next to the wheelchair...

UPDATE: See also the quite-possibly-true report "Superdome, Convention Center death toll exaggerated".


"Not much traction with the abuse"

Now it's Wesley Pruden's turn to discuss the left's attempts to politicize the disaster:

...The vultures of the venomous left are attacking on two fronts, first that the president didn't do what the incompetent mayor of New Orleans and the pouty governor of Louisiana should have done, and didn't, in the early hours after Katrina loosed the deluge on the city that care and good judgment forgot. Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a "mandatory" evacuation a day late, but kept the city's 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground. The bright-yellow buses sit ruined now in four feet of dirty water. Then the governor, Kathleen Blanco, resisted early pleas to declare martial law, and her dithering opened the way for looters, rapists and killers to make New Orleans an unholy hell. Gov. Haley Barbour did not hesitate in neighboring Mississippi, and looters, rapists and killers have not turned the streets of Gulfport and Biloxi into killing fields...

Should Bush investigate what went wrong?

In a word, no. Since the blame appears to be shared among the federal government and those in the states and localities, and since it appears to touch both Republicans and Democrats, any investigation needs to be handled by a group that is above partisanship and political favor. The investigation needs to be conducted in as transparent a manner as possible and hopefully not by Washington (or Louisiana) insiders.
In fact, the article "Bush Says He'll Find Out What Went Wrong" sounds slightly like that that might appear in the Cuban press:

Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why _ in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.
Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can...
[Bush said:] "Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people... What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong... We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm... One of the things people want us to do here is play the blame game... We got to solve problems. There will be ample time to figure out what went right and what went wrong."
...Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., had told reporters Monday that the Homeland Security Committee would convene hearings as Congress returns this week to examine the "weaknesses and strengths" of the federal response and to "apply the lessons learned."
...Bush did not respond directly when asked if anyone on his disaster response team should be replaced...

"The Mayor Who Failed His City"

FPM has a link-rich rundown of the left's attempts to politicize the disaster:

IT'S OFFICIAL: THE AMERICAN LEFT NOW BELIEVES GEORGE W. BUSH IS GOD. Bellowing leftists such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cindy Sheehan have blamed Hurricane Katrina - something insurance companies classify as an act of God - on President Bush's "killing policies" (and, in RFK Jr.'s case, those of Mississippi's Republican governor, Haley Barbour). Former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal also penned an article in The Guardian chalking up the flood to the Bush administration's having cut one item in the Army Corps of Engineers' annual budget. (Desperate to build a presidential legacy, even ex post facto, ex-President Bill Clinton has intimated his administration did more to keep New Orleans safe than Bush's.) Meanwhile, DNC Chair Howard Dean weighed in by demeaning Bush's trip to the disaster area, calling it "just another callous political move crafted by Karl Rove."

Tim Russert prompts for a resignation

From Sunday's Meet the Press:

TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary are you or anyone who reports to you contemplating resignation?
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Tim, what we're contemplating now is the fact is that we're very, very much in the middle after crisis...
...TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say pre-staged, people were sent to the Convention Center- there was no water. No food, no beds, no authorities there. There was no planning.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: My understanding is-- and again this is something that we're going to go back over after the fact is-- the plan that the New Orleans officials and the State Officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort...
...TIM RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, there was no food or water at the Superdome, either...

FEMA or Louisiana: Who was "in charge"?

The unconfirmed post here goes into detail on what FEMA being "in charge" meant:

...Blanco declared a State-level emergency on the 26th, Bush declared it a Federal emergency on the 27th. So far, so good.
No, neither DHS nor FEMA are or can be "in charge," nor did Blanco request such a thing. They coordinate. There's a difference. At all times, the National Guard of the State of Louisiana remained under the direction of Governor Blanco. There were discussions held to federalize these troops, and indeed the entire effort, but Blanco refused. This means she was in charge.
Did you read what Blanco specifically requested from the feds on the 28th? Read it; I can tell you didn't. It's about funding, and after-the-fact assistance for people who lost their homes and so on. There's nothing in there like "send us 1,000 boats" or "send us 100,000 MRE's." Nothing like that. The only thing in there that required immediate attention from Bush was the request for 100% (as opposed to 75%) federal funding. Bush declared that the next day.
Did you read those things about "don't self-dispatch?" That's to keep well-meaning free-lancers from going down there, unknown to anyone, and becoming more load on the rescue system. All they say is, "work through the Red Cross or the Salvation Army." It's not like they told people not to do anything. They just don't want a bunch of stray people wandering in there to "help."
Aaron Broussard has the credibility of a snake. Wal-Mart was sending in water "a week ago (Saturday)?" Yeah, sure it was. And FEMA was there to turn them back a week ago? Yeah, sure it was. Who knows if he's telling the truth about anything?
You're the second guy in here today that seems to think that FEMA is some kind of domestic 'army' that's supposed to parachute in and save the day. That's not what they do. They fund things. They "coordinate." They've got a few guys with rescue boats, and some guys who can set up communications, but past that they're bureaucrats who sit in front of computer screens and telephones and try to hire contractors and tell the Red Cross where to set up, and stuff like that.
All this stuff like dropping MRE's from helicopters is what the National Guard does... and that reports to Blanco. The only serious federal assets that can run around rescuing civilians in the US belong to the Coast Guard, and as well all saw, the Coast Guard helicopters were there as soon as the gale-force winds were gone and the Sun was up... which was Wednesday morning...

Al Sharpton: "I feel race was a factor"

While you wouldn't expect him to say anything else, here's what he said in Houston over the weekend:

I feel race was a factor. Why? I remember almost a year ago to the day I was in Florida when a hurricane was coming not a point four, not a point five, and I saw the white house move. I saw the government of the president's brother move. National guard was already alerted before the storm ever hit. It seems to me that if we can be alert in Palm Beach, Florida, we could have been alert in New Orleans.

German TV on Bush's Sep. 2 "photo op"

On Sep. 2 president Bush visited New Orleans, and two German TV stations are apparently claiming that his visit was a staged photo op: bulldozers and the like were brought in just for his visit, bodies were moved, etc. From this second-hand report:

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

There are links to the video from ZDF and ARD here.
This is closely related to Sen. Mary Landrieu's remarks. In fact, the same Political Animal post discussed at that link was updated with this German allegation, causing Kevin Drum to remark:

This goes beyond stage management. This is criminal.

The HuffPost also noted this charge.
Can someone provide translations and state the actual charges and what evidence is given? Reports in German are here: link1, link2, link3. The last is supposedly translated here.

Ray Nagin criticized from left

From Democracy Now:

We turn to Malik Rahim who had his own critique of Mayor Nagin's response to the devastating Hurricane Katrina. Malik Rahim is a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans. For decades he has worked as an organizer of public housing tenants both there and in San Francisco. He recently ran for New Orleans City Council on the Green Party ticket... Malik began by talking what he would have done differently to deal with the storm.

No transcript is currently available, but if anyone can get their audio to work please post a summary in the comments.


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