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.
On Sep. 3, LA Sen. Mary Landrieu accused Bush of creating a potemkin repair site. She appears to have been wrong. First, here's her claim:
...But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning [Saturday Sep. 3], less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment...
The same day, Kevin Drum introduced this quote with this:
George Bush's photo-op tour of New Orleans yesterday has apparently driven Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu over the edge. Today she blasted FEMA for its feeble response to Hurricane Katrina and Bush for his phony, stage managed promises of action...
However, "Local officials complain of disease, neglect" (posted on 09/04/2005 02:13:32 AM) says:
The Army Corps of Engineers said crews had closed a 300-foot gap in the 17th Street Canal levee, where the heaviest floodwaters had entered the city, and said they expected to close a second gap in another canal over the weekend.
Work to repair a 500-yard stretch of embankment along the 17th Street Canal was completed late on Sunday after an operation so urgent and intense that helicopter crews refused even to land for refuelling during shifts, instead hooking up to a giant flying tanker that circled overhead.
And, if that wasn't enough, from the ACOE themselves comes this PDF file:
On east side of the 17th Street Canal, the closure was 75 percent complete by midday Friday and a complete closure was expected by nightfall. Helicopters were dropping large sandbags made of strong, synthetic materials, and heavy equipment on the ground has been placing rock. Ground access was created by building a rock road more than 700-feet long from Hammond Highway, which is about 700 feet lake-ward of the breach.
Note that the first (since shown to be erroneous as to the victims) report of people being shot was posted on 09/04 6:10PM Eastern and contains:
The contractors were walking across a bridge on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain to fix the 17th Street Canal...
The rest of Drum's post will be discussed later, but the last four excerpts cast a great deal of doubt on Landrieu's interpretation of events, which, of course, were then echoed by WM and others.
The use of the term "levee" might be inaccurate. As I understand it, all of the levees held; the problems were in the "flood walls" for the canals.
Apparently Landrieu was less hostile during her interview with Anderson Cooper. That was the one during which he recounted his story about seeing rats eating a dead body.
District Fire Chief Gary Savelle "developed the city's hurricane fire and rescue plan" ("Haunted by Katrina").
WTAE's news director, Bob Longo, quotes Landrieu's press release without any analysis in "My View: Responsibility And The Relief Effort". Please post links to other discussions of her allegations in the comments.