That is the charge from Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT):
"The problems begin at the White House, where there has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation we have a responsibility to do... There's been no assertion of executive privilege; just a refusal to answer... My staff believes that (the Department of Homeland Security) has engaged in a conscious strategy of slow walking our investigation in the hope that we would run out of time to follow the investigation's natural progression to where it leads."
He says the panel haven't gotten the documents they've asked for and hasn't helped them get information from other agencies.
At 1:47 a.m. (Eastern) on Aug. 29 the White House's situation room received an email from the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC) containing a dire assessment of Katrina's likely impact, the WaPo breathlessly reports:
The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina's size would "likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain. It predicted economic losses in the tens of billions of dollars, including damage to public utilities and industry that would take years to fully repair. Initial response and rescue operations would be hampered by disruption of telecommunications networks and the loss of power to fire, police and emergency workers, it said.
The assessment was 41 pages. In other words, it had probably been prepared well before Aug 29. In other words, it's not like the White House was suddenly presented with stunning new information; that info had been "in the system" for a while.
In a second document, also obtained by The Washington Post, a computer slide presentation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared for a 9 a.m. meeting on Aug. 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, compared Katrina's likely impact to that of "Hurricane Pam," a fictional Category 3 storm used in a series of FEMA disaster-preparedness exercises simulating the effects of a major hurricane striking New Orleans. But Katrina, the report warned, could be worse.
The hurricane's Category 4 storm surge "could greatly overtop levees and protective systems" and destroy nearly 90 percent of city structures, the FEMA report said. It further predicted "incredible search and rescue needs (60,000-plus)" and the displacement of more than a million residents.
That also represented information that was in the system. Obvious to all but the WaPo and Democrats, this was a systemic failure involving all levels of government and not just one specific to the White House.
President Bush visited New Orleans yesterday in what appears to have been a visit designed to bring back tourists and conventioneers. Here's the NYT's first paragraph:
President Bush made his first trip here in three months on Thursday and declared that New Orleans was "a heck of a place to bring your family" and that it had "some of the greatest food in the world and some wonderful fun."
Of course, the first quote is more than a little reminiscent of the infamous Bushism "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job". As if on cue, the Huffington Post links to the NYT report using 'Bush Visits New Orleans Declares City A "Heck Of A" Place...' Also as if on cue, over 500 comments result from ardent "liberals".
Bush's motorcade passed by some devastated areas, but he avoided a demonstration put on by the Academy of the Sacred Heart demanding full levee protection.
Then, he paid a visit to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he said:
"for folks around the country who are looking for a great place to have a convention, or a great place to visit, I'd suggest coming here to the great New Orleans."
He did not, however, promise to develop levees that could withstand a Category 5 storm, only "stronger and better". That translates into being able to withstand a weak Cat 4 at the most.
The phrase "Brownie, you're doing a heckova job" has been selected as the "Top Bushism of 2005" by the Global Language Monitor, Reuters gleefully reports.
The hitherto and henceforth obscure GLM rose to prominence after being called upon to explain the word "chad" during the Sore-Loserman controversy.
The Army Corps of Engineers said the plan for improved levees that is being pushed by President George Bush is a good one for the areas where levees breached but will do nothing to protect the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East or St. Bernard Parish.
...The plan calls for closing off the levees at the London Avenue, Orleans Avenue and 17th Street Canals by June 1, 2006...
In addition the levees will be built over with concrete and pumping stations would be positioned near Lake Pontchartrain within two years.
The plans are based on the standard of a true Category-3 and Congress used 100 miles per hour winds as their gauge for satisfactory flood protection in the short term.
The Corps has also been given two years to come up with a proposal for Category-5 protection...
NBC's Brian Williams conducted a long interview with president Bush, and the section about Katrina has Bush:
- repeating his blame-taking for the weak federal response ("to the extent that the federal government was ineffective, I'm responsible")
- given the opportunity to blame Blanco, Nagin, or others, he said "we're beyond that"
- he was watching the TV reports from the Superdome...
- he "certainly hopes" that we won't lose New Orleans on his watch...
- Bush not only knows what the Ninth Ward is, he's familiar with the conspiracy theory about the government blowing up the levees...
- Bush has read about- or had someone tell him about - the blowing up of the levees that occured in the 20s...
And, there's this perhaps-not-entirely-accurate bit:
one of the things we've learned about the levees, Brian, is that they call the levees a certain category, but they weren't up to standards. And so we're now in the process of working with local folks to get the standards of the levees up to where they should have been prior to the storm and even better. And hopefully we'll have the capacity to announce that relatively quickly.
The levees and floodwalls might not have been designed correctly however.
I remember saying that, when I thanked those chopper drivers from the Coast Guard who performed brilliantly, they didn't lower those booms to pick up people saying, "What color skin do you have?" They said, "A fellow American's in jeopardy. And I'm going to do my best to rescue that person."
However, some far-lefties have speculated that shots fired at choppers were because they were being ignored because of triage.
Speaking about Brownie:
You know, Michael [Brown], resigned. And I, you know, I had worked with him during the four hurricanes that hit Florida. He got pretty good marks. And in this case, for whatever reason, the system overwhelmed the whole process. And Michael said, "I'm responsible." And he left.
Last week we had Bloomberg offering "Bush's Attention Wanders From Katrina as Reconstruction Lags". Then came Paul Krugman with "The Promiser in Chief". Apparently new talking points were released, since there are at least two other recent instances of this same line of thought.
For instance, here's Mike Allen of the Washington Post appearing on Meet the Press and intoning (nofollowpolicy):
I'm going to tell you something to amaze you; it amazed me yesterday. The last time the president was in the hurricane region was October 11, two months ago. The president stood in New Orleans and said it was going to be one of the largest reconstruction efforts in the history of the world. You go to the White house home page, there's Barney camp, there's Social Security, there's Renewing Iraq. Where's renewing New Orleans? A presidential advisor told me that issue has fallen so far off the radar screen, you can't find it.
And, of course, see the NYT's "Death of an American City" for yet another in this long series.
[...comparison with Iraq rebuilding...]
...One FEMA program has, however, been revamped. The Recovery Channel is a satellite and Internet network that used to provide practical information to disaster victims. Now it features public relations segments telling viewers what a great job FEMA and the Bush administration are doing.
But back to reconstruction. By letting the gulf region languish, Mr. Bush is allowing a window of opportunity to close, just as he did in Iraq.
To see why, you need to understand a point emphasized by that report in The Los Angeles Times: the private sector can't rebuild the region on its own. The reason goes beyond the need for flood protection and basic infrastructure, which only the government can provide. Rebuilding is also blocked by a vicious circle of uncertainty. Business owners are reluctant to return to the gulf region because they aren't sure whether their customers and workers will return, too. And families are reluctant to return because they aren't sure whether businesses will be there to provide jobs and basic amenities.
A credible reconstruction plan could turn that vicious circle into a virtuous circle, in which everyone expects a regional recovery and, by acting on that expectation, helps that recovery come to pass. But as the months go by with no plan and no money, businesses and families will make permanent decisions to relocate elsewhere, and the loss of faith in a gulf region recovery will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Funny, isn't it? Back during the 2000 campaign Mr. Bush promised to avoid "nation building." And so he has. He failed to rebuild Iraq because he waited too long to get started. And now he's doing the same thing here at home.
"Relocating elsewhere" might indeed be part of the Bush "plan", or at least a happy side-effect of the Bush non-plan.
However, the Dems have no plan either, so, as usual, America is caught between two corrupt and incompetent parties.
Brendan Murray of Bloomberg takes our leader to task for forgetting about his recent promises:
Just three months ago, President George W. Bush couldn't talk enough about the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast and the effort to rebuild it.
Bush traveled to the region eight times in the six weeks following Hurricane Katrina's Aug. 29 landfall. He spoke about the disaster almost every day in September and in all four radio addresses that month. On Sept. 15, during a nationally televised speech from New Orleans, the president promised that ``we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.''
That now seems a distant memory. Bush hasn't been back to the region in almost two months, and he doesn't speak about it much anymore -- four times in November and twice so far this month, and then only fleetingly. In a 44-minute speech on the economy on Dec. 5, Bush mentioned hurricane damage in the context of urging Congress to pass energy legislation...
The radio host appears to have coined a new term:
Some of the Katrina media -- by Katrina media, meaning they've gotten nothing right. Remember the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Where are the 10,000 bodies? I want to see the 10,000 bodies. 'Til I see 10,000 bodies I'm not going to believe a damn thing that these people say anymore.
If it were just that, it'd be a term I might use here too. However, he went on:
I want to see the toxic soup water. I want to see the city shut down for six months. I want to see all this. I want to see the evidence that Bush steered the hurricane in there. I want to see the evidence that he blew up the levees to wipe out the ninth ward and to scatter a bunch of black Democrats all around the country thereby watering down their voting power in Louisiana. I want to see all these things before I believe anything they say.
As for the diaspora, well, doesn't it seem to have happened? What exactly is the Bush administration doing to get those black Democrats back to NO? We can argue about whether this was a plan or a happy side-effect, but it certainly seems to be something they favor, no? The Bush administration is making conspiracy theories come true.
As for the toxic soup, do a search here for "soup" or look in to the Katrina cough. The jury still seems to be out on that.
And, only a very small number of people think El Arbusto has a weather machine, and that was only briefly on the nightly news and only in their Oddly Enough segment. It's a bit sleazy for Rush to work that in there, as if it's on par with the rest.
Instead of making cute jokes, El Rushbo might want to consider the long-term impact of Bush's mishandling of the crisis on the GOP.