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Rewriting Katrina History - AP Style

Over at Crooks & Liars they have the AP video to go with this AP story, Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina. The video can be watched directly from the AP site here.

Is it a slow news day? In what parallel universe does video of disaster planning video teleconferences constitute the AP equivalent of the Drudge siren? The parallel universe is the "Bush Controls Nature" section of the Bush Derangement Syndrome universe.

There's lots of heavy breathing on the left about the AP story, but unfortunately for them it has all the hallmarks of the Bush Air National Guard story on 60 Minutes II by Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. The AP has dressed up mundane video to try and prove that President Bush (and everyone else) knew that the levees in New Orleans were going to breech. The problem is the evidence they present in their story to make that point does nothing of the sort.

Let's look at the AP story (emphasis mine).

WASHINGTON (AP) - In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

...Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done," National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

..."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 very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.

Notice what the expert is NOT talking about? Breached levees. But he's the person AP relies on in their video report to counter Bush's statement. How dishonest is that?
Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. He later clarified, saying officials believed, wrongly, after the storm passed that the levees had survived. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility even before the storm - and Bush was worried too.
If such talk is in the video and transcripts AP has not provided it. The only example of talk about breached levees the cite occurs AFTER the hurricane hit.

I invite you to look through our Katrina archives from the beginning - you can learn a lot about what actually happened and when. Wizbang was in the unique position to have one of our bloggers, Paul - an engineer by trade, who just so happened to live in New Orleans. That provided us with a unique local angle on the story.

On August 27, 2005 Paul noted everything discussed in the briefings seen on the AP video and more. How did he know this? Well for starters the entire New Orleans area had avoided a similar fate in 2004 when it looked like they were headed for a direct hit by a Category 5 hurricane (Ivan, not Andrew as I originally stated). The Katrina being discussed in the AP video is the monster Category 5 version of Katrina that was bearing down directly on New Orleans.

And that's where the dishonesty in the AP story really lies. Contrary to popular belief New Orleans DID NOT take the brunt of Katrina. The Gulf Coast in Mississippi had that honor. As it veered east of New Orleans the force that Katrina hit the New Orleans area with was the equivalent of a Category 1 (or possibly Category 2) hurricane. On the video those officials are discussing a direct hit of a Category 5 storm, just as Paul was. A Category 5 storm didn't hit New Orleans...

When the President said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" he probably should have been more specific for the casual arm-chair quarterbacking of the left. What he should have said was, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees in New Orleans from a Category 1 hurricane, since the levees were built to withstand the storm surge from a Category 3 hurricane."

On August 29, 2005 I noted from U.S. Army Corp of Engineers data that the levees did not top. Less than 24 hours later Paul noted that New Orleans was 80% underwater and was for all intents and purposes destroyed.

What changed in the interim? We all know now that the levees were not topped, they crumbled in many spots (most of which were less than a decade old) were they could not withstand the surge they were designed to contain. As Paul noted November 11, 2005, Katrina did not flood New Orleans. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did.

Absolutely no one in the AP story mentions the possibility that monumental incompetence, generations of corruptions, and shoddy engineering would doom New Orleans even if it did manage to avoid a direct hit...

But that's exactly what happened...

Update: John Hinderaker at Powerline draws similar conclusions about the dubious quality of the AP story. He does note one of the mysteries of the story:

The AP article is fatally compromised by its factual errors, and adds nothing to our understanding of the issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina. It also raises an important point about the leaks that form the basis for many news stories these days. The AP took what appears to have been a substantial quantity of leaked material, and turned it into a brief against the Bush administration. Whether the documents themselves contain anything noteworthy, and whether, on balance, they support the AP's tendentious interpretation, is impossible to tell.
If you watch the video it's pretty obvious who the AP's source is - just look for the person who turns up smelling like a rose. Brownie you're doing a heck of an image rehabilitation job...

Update 2: Captain Ed links to partial transcripts of the videos at The New York Times. He notes that the word "breach" is mentioned exactly one time in the two video conferences, and it's use is not if the form of a warning. Here's what Ed says,

"That certainly doesn't sound like a warning -- and this was on the day the levees broke. That transcript clearly shows that the conference considered the storm surge and precipitation runoff to be the major threats of flooding in New Orleans. The possibility of breaches, even on the 29th, had been discounted.
So that you can search through the transcripts I've run the PDF's through OCR and republished them (Aug 28 and Aug 29) in a searchable PDF form.

Update 3: You're never going to guess where (it appears) one of the AP story authors used to work. Does Rathergate ring a bell?


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Rewriting Katrina History - AP Style:

» In Search Of Utopia linked with Parallel Universes

» Rocket's Brain Trust linked with KATRINA - Reality vs. Media Myths

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina

» ThatGayConservative linked with AP-BS?

» Flopping Aces linked with http://www.floppingaces.net/?p=1395

» Sister Toldjah linked with The Katrina kerfuffle, part deux

» Myopic Zeal linked with That Katrina Vid

» Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with Bush Is Warned on Katrina in Video

» Pekin Prattles linked with AP Tries Re-Write of Katrina Facts!

» ReidBlog linked with Brownie points

» A Blog For All linked with About The Katrina Teleconferencing Videos

» MacStansbury.org linked with Topped = Breached

» two or three . net linked with Press continues poor Katrina coverage

» The New Editor linked with Rewriting Katrina History - AP Style

» WILLisms.com linked with CBS Sleaze Machine Rolls On?

» Pirate's Cove linked with Yawn. More Demoidiocy

» Searchlight Crusade linked with Links and Minifeatures 03 02 Thursday

» The Conservative Crust linked with Ports Deal, Katrina Hurting Bush at Polls

» Davids Medienkritik linked with SPIEGEL ONLINE: Ignoring the Facts Again

Comments (73)

Kevin,Your last se... (Below threshold)


Your last sentence exactly sums up the way I felt after reading the related article at MSNBC. Will the Democrats now offer Michael Brown a big apology?

It's also worth noting that Federal officials were concerned about the lacadasical response of New Orleans citizens and local government officials to the threat of the storm. They were specifically worried about the fact that facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons were not being evacuated. And I would imagine that they were also concerned about the tens of thousands of New Orleans residents who didn't think the storm would be a big deal, and therefore decided not to leave. Bush's fault? I don't think so.

I haven't seen this documented anywhere, but my gut feeling after this disaster occurred was that FEMA was both puzzled and overwhelmed by the fact that so many civilians failed to evacuate the area. I doubt that they had ever dealt with a situation in which literally tens of thousands were stranded and suffering in the wake of a hurricane. FEMA has a limited amount of resources and the bulk of its job usually involves disaster recovery management, not search and rescue operations or arranging for the evacuation of tens of thousands.

No one, not even Bill Clinton, could -- or would -- have given executive orders usurping the powers of state and local officials and ordering federal troops to forcibly remove civilians from their homes. And such an action would had to have been organized and implemented at least a week in advance of the storm, which is an impossibility given that landfall near New Orleans wasn't positively certain until about 36 hours before the storm hit. Can you imagine the reaction if Bush sent in troops to forcibly evacuate civilians, and then the storm turned and hit somewhere else?

The whole scheme was a lose-lose proposition for the Federal government. And no amount of spin can take responsibility away from where it truly lies, which is with the government of New Orleans. They are the ones that should have evacuated hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. They are the ones that should have had a plan to muster the poor at the Superdome and evacuate them in advance of the storm. And they are the ones who should have planned to have a realistic supply of police officers, food, and portable sanitation available for their storm shelters.

The only thing that Bill Clinton would have done differently, had he presided over this disaster, is to devise a clever way to blame everything once again on the Republicans.

They'd known for HOW many y... (Below threshold)

They'd known for HOW many years that the levees wouldn't hold? Did they or did they not vote down spending the massive amount of $ necessary to strengthen them? I'm sick to DEATH of everybody's screwups and shortcomings being blamed on Bush!!


I totally trust Powerlie to... (Below threshold)

I totally trust Powerlie to do good investigative work. That's where I go for my news first.

(Except for that whole Democratic Staffer Memo thing)

I guess the whole point of this is that Bush was completely wrong/dishonest about the breach of the levees. It was anticipated. This is just another layer on top of what we already knew, much like the Downing Street Memo telling us they cherry picked intelligence in the lead up to this disaster of a war. But this really is small stuff in the grand scheme of things. Who cares? He blew Katrina, let's move on.

You're right, JP.You... (Below threshold)

You're right, JP.
You should stick to CBS-BS and only get they news as they want it to be.
Bush should have followed lord BJ's lead and put a county judge, who waited three weeks to respond to a hurricane, in charge of FEMA

I'm impressed, Kevin - it t... (Below threshold)

I'm impressed, Kevin - it took even less time than I expected for Bush apologists such as yourself to start the spin cycle. If Dubyah's administration had been half as quick in responding effectively to Katrina as you are in dismissing their failure (while blaming the messengers), we wouldn't be having this discussion.

I am a lifelong resident of... (Below threshold)

I am a lifelong resident of the State of Louisiana, albeit from the Southwest portion of the state (the part that took the brunt of that OTHER hurricane, Rita). I have scrutinized many articles, editorials, transcripts of briefings of Lt. Gen. Honore (the "John Wayne dude" as per Ray Nagin), timelines prepared by various and sundry individuals, and if there is one common thread that I believe no one in their right mind can deny it is the unbelievable, incredibly inept performance of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Please allow me to remind everyone of a few more tidbits so we can all keep our eye on the ball (and, not meaning to split hairs Kevin, but it was Hurricane Ivan that almost hit in 2004 -- Andrew hit in 1992).

My husband was working in New Orleans as Ivan approached in 2004. He was working at One Shell Square in downtown New Orleans on a project that required 24 hour attendance by him and a co-worker. As Ivan approached during the night, my husband was watching the Weather Channel and listening to local news and what he was hearing was a clear recognition by city officials that a total evacuation of New Orleans would require 72 hours (there are few alternative routes out) and at that point Ivan was less than 60 hours from landfall. Being the smart guy that he is but also realizing he was placing his job in jeopardy by doing so (since no mandatory evacuation had been called), he turned off the lights, left a note on the door, and got the hell out of Dodge, making it home in 5 hours, a trip that normally takes 3. He left New Orleans at about 4 a.m. When the lightbulb went off over the rest of the city's head a few hours after he left and people started heading out, we heard stories of traffic jams similar to what we saw with the attempted evacuation of Houston as Rita approached -- it taking some people 10 hours to get west of Baton Rouge, a trip that normally takes one hour.

So, having dodged that bullet and in the summer of 2005, City, State, and Federal officials participated in "Hurricane Pam," a fictional hurricane designed to have everyone consider what would happen if New Orleans should take a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane. It seems that the only lesson learned from Ivan and Hurricane Pam that anyone in charge actually remembered as Katrina approached was for the governor or order contra-flow of the interstates, allowing only people going out and using in-bound lanes for outgoing traffic.

As Katrina approached, however, Mayor Nagin appears to have totally thrown the plan book (the one that the City was paid by the Federal Government to have and maintain for use in these types of emergencies so everyone would know who was supposed to be doing what) out of the window. He did not call for mandatory evacuation until Sunday, August 28, at 9:30 a.m., which was less than 24 hours before Katrina his. Nagin made the call only after receiving a call from the head of the National Hurricane Center who expressed extreme concern over developments and after President Bush called Kathleen Blanco and made a plea to her.

One of the major parts of the Preparedness Plan was what to do about the tens of thousands of citizens of New Orleans that had no means of getting out of the city by themselves. Now we've all seen the famous school busses under water -- I have yet to hear Nagin's explanation for why or how he was unable to get City busses or those school busses in a position to be able to remove people after the storm, even if they could not get them out before. It doesn't appear this issue ever crossed his radar screen. I did hear Mary Landrieu stomping her tiny feet on the floor of the Senate after the hurricane daring anyone to blame local officials for anything that occured during or after the hurricane, claiming that the city had a hard enough time getting bus drivers to work on regular days, much less during a storm (I think this is the same interview where she said she wanted to punch the President -- I thought people got arrested for comments like that). Gee, why wouldn't anybody have thought about that ahead of time? But she does have a point -- many city workers in New Orleans have pride in their job and performance similar to the New Orleans Police Department whose members were caught looting themselves, stealing automobiles from dealerships, and loading their squad cars with their booty.

But I digress.

The Louisiana Superdome, listed in the Louisiana Preparedness Plan as a evacuation cite of last restort, was in no manner prepared to handle the number of people it received for the length of time it ultimately was needed. Once Nagin did finally order the mandatory evacuation and opened the Superdome as a cite, he advised the citizens that were going there to basically take care of themselves, to bring enough food and water to last them several days. Now how in the world these people who were having to WALK to the Superdome from their homes were supposed to schlep 40 gallons of water along with them is anybody's guess.

And when it became apparent that so many people were expecting to be housed at the Superdome, a cite that could only support the expected numbers of evacuees for 36 hours, Nagin decides to open the Convention Center as another evacuation cite. The Convention Center is not listed in the Preparedness Plan as an evacuation cite and nothing indicates that Nagin told FEMA or LEMA that he did it, yet Brown was chastized in the press afterwards for "fianlly" learning of evacuees in the Convention Center on September 1. The Convention Center had ZERO provisions for evacuees.

When our great Governor asked the President to declare a State of Emergency (which he did), the only assistance she requested (and this can be verified by her correspondence at her website) was for assistance with debris removal, emergency protective measures, and individuals and households program. The document attached to her letter where she "filled in the blanks" of what she needed left blank the box which would have allowed for coordination, technical, and advisory assistance or distribution of emergency supplies. When Lt. Gen. Honore briefed the Defense Department representatives of 9/1/05, it was very clear that his operation, JTF-Katrina, was in a stand-by mode waiting for requests of assistance by the Louisana Governor. By the time of that briefing, Blanco had requested no assistance from federalized troops (and in fact to this day I do not believe she has asked for such assistance) -- Honore reported the number of Louisiana National Guardsmen he understood to be in the area but of course they remained under the command of Blanco. When questioned about when the governors (remember -- Katrina did effect Mississippi most profoundly, just not as publicly as they took care of their business without whining about it) had asked for more security, Honore responded that their requests had been coming incrimentally and was being executed through a process call "EMAC," the Emergency Management Assistance Compact which is a congressionally ratified organization that provides form and structure to interstate mutual aid and allows one state to request assistance from another. EMAC is under the control of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness which is under the direct control of the Governor.

I also saw the MSM accounts of Chertoff being warned ahead of time that the levees may fail and when I reviewed the information following the misleading headline, I also noted exactly what Kevin notes here -- the warning was that the levees may top, not fail.

There were numerous accounts of difficulties just following the storm as people were attempting to get to the area to help. It was reported that, in the true fashion of the rest of us who live in New Orleans (a very distinct breed from those who lived their entire lives in that City, some having never left its confines), many hunters and fishermen hitched up their boats and headed East to help rescue. They were stopped and turned around by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department. Now, I do want to be careful here because there may well have been very good reasons Wildlife and Fisheries made that decision. By this point, the shootings had started, there was obviously no chain of command or organization of any rescue effort in the city and to allow more people to go in could well have created additional harm and confusion. But I'll also say this -- those are the same people who hitched up again a month later to help their fellow citizens after Rita and their help was accepted with open arms, in the spirit in which it was offered.

We also heard about the Red Cross being denied access to the Superdome to provide aid and assistance to the evacuees stranded there as city officials did not want their presence to act as a magnet for others stranded in their homes.

And then, my favorite proof of Blanco's idiocy, is the incident reported by Ray Nagin in an interview around September 3 I think explaining how he and Blanco met with the President on August 31 on Air Force One sitting on the tarmac at Louis Armstrong International Airport. This would be the second day following Katrina's landfall the morning of August 29, as we were getting the information of the chaos and mayhem at the Superdome. On that morning the President offered to Blanco to federalize the evacuation effort. Her response? She needed 24 hours to think about it. Translated for those of you not familiar with our Governor, she needed that amount of time to go back and check with the people who pull her strings, including Senatory Mary Landrieu who rallied her own New Orleans constinuency -- now scattered to the four winds, literally -- to help Blanco narrowly defeat Bobby Jindahl and who is closely alligned with Hillary Clinton. It also included the CEO of Rand Corporation, a gentleman who was heavily involved in Blanco's campaign, who was the Louisiana DNC chair until he resigned shortly after Katrina, and whose company has benefited enormously from post-Katrina contracts. The extent to which Rand Corporation has benefited from this relationship remains to be seen.

As this hurricane was approaching and shortly afterward, I remarked to my husband that the rest of the United States was now going to witness first hand that which we who live here have known for years. New Orleans is so incredibly disfunctional and crooked that it more resembles a Third World country than a modern metropolitan area in these United States of America. This hurricane has pulled the scab off of a very deep, very troublesome wound for this state and exposed the decay and rot.

The question remaining is whether fellow Louisianans will finally grow some testicles and stand up to the "powers that be" that continue to dominated the political landscape and throw the bastards out, or will they retreat once again into their own shells and just worry about the big picture when it seeps into their own yard. I pray mightily for the former but I'm resigned to the latter.

Interesting article about t... (Below threshold)

Interesting article about the creation, rise and fall of FEMA - written before Katrina:

Disaster in the Making

As FEMA Weathers a Storm of Bush Administration Policy and Budget Changes, Protection From Natural Hazards May be Trumped by "Homeland Security"

Best unintentional irony:

"In a sense, Louisiana is the flood plain of the nation," noted a 2002 FEMA report. "Louisiana waterways drain two-thirds of the continental United States. Precipitation in New York, the Dakotas, even Idaho and the Province of Alberta, finds its way to Louisiana's coastline." As a result, flooding is a constant threat, and the state has an estimated 18,000 buildings that have been repeatedly damaged by floodwaters--the highest number of any state. And yet, this summer FEMA denied Louisiana communities' pre-disaster mitigation funding requests.

In Jefferson Parish, part of the New Orleans metropolitan area, flood-zone manager Tom Rodrigue is baffled by the development. "You would think we would get maximum consideration" for the funds, he says. "This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it."

Gee K2law, that is an awful... (Below threshold)

Gee K2law, that is an awful story. Awful long, that is.

It also serves as a great distraction and attempt to change the subject. Whenever someone has taken Bush to task on Katrina, his supporters like to point out how nearly everyone else in Louisiana should also shoulder the blame. That's fine, and I would assume anyone with a brain would agree that there is plenty of blame to go around.

But the issue is the fact that Bush claimed that he and everyone else had "no idea" that the levees could breach, be topped, give way, peter out, fall to pieces or simply not do what levees are supposed to do, namely keep water out. (And yes, I chose to give many permutations of this for those of you who quibbled over the Administration's "non-use" of the concept of an "imminent threat" before we got ourselves into Iraq.) Quit nitpicking over words, people. The bottom line is that Bush pulled out his tired "duh, no one didn't knowded that this could happen" routine once again and many people are tiring of it. Maybe he should simply say that he is an inept dumbass with a terrible memory. That I would believe.

I'm sorry Theory -- it may ... (Below threshold)

I'm sorry Theory -- it may be splitting hairs to you, but it's not to me. Being told a levee may be topped (meaning water will get in that will need to be pumped out) and being told that a levee will breach is not the same thing at all.

And I'm sorry you thought my story was awful -- I'm very concerned about my state and very passionate about what has happened to it. I am not an apologist for the administration but my criticsm of what it did or didn't do is limited to decisions made following the storm (such as the hire of the cruise liners -- somebody should have thought that one out a little better), but not that they could have done anything four days before the storm to keep the levees from breeching.

Hola k2law.The "aw... (Below threshold)

Hola k2law.

The "awful" meant that the events that happened were not good, not that your narrative was poorly told, full of fabrications, or otherwise. I figured that the "awful long" statement that followed (which was a joke, something that I assume they have down where you are) would clue you into this. Alas, no dice.

Oh, and by the way, I love how Omni brought up Bill Clinton. My god, some people must have the oddest fetishes for that man.

The difference between levees being topped or being breached is not lost on me, but thanks for the refresher. My point was to clarify that Bush claimed "no one could have predicted the levees would be breached". Really? No one? In meetings about contingencies regarding a hurricane, that possibilty was never even addressed? Sort of like no one ever thought terrorists would run planes into buildings? Sure.

On the one hand, Kevin is right: the footage shows a storm expert discussing the levees being "topped" and not breached. The AP fails for not providing evidence that the term "breached" was used in the briefing. But do we really need to get down to this level of parsing? If Bush is unwilling to say that he screwed up on this one (like many others), can he at least not act like the notion of the levees collapsing (which is part of the reason for funding for the levees probably should have been given greater consideration in the many funding requests sent to the federal government) is something that no one thought of? Can he at least shut up and not make asinine statements?

I meant Mike, not Omni.... (Below threshold)

I meant Mike, not Omni.

k2law, I'm from Chalmette. ... (Below threshold)

k2law, I'm from Chalmette. I was 9 days old when Betsy hit, and our house took on 4 feet of water. Back then, as now, no one wanted to evacuate when the storm came. I will confess to having ridden out Hurricane Georges myself with relatives in Gulfport, in 1998, instead of evacuating. Not very smart, perhaps, but it's something I grew up with, along with most people I knew.

I have tried to remain dispassionate about the clusterf*ck of armchair quarterbacking that went on by people who don't know how US disaster management works (I'm in New Zealand now, and here in Helengrad, they don't have a clue), how Nagin and Blanco failed in their responsibilities to their constituents, or how no one with two brain cells can justify throwing good money after bad.

jp2 and mantis (who hasn't shown up yet, but I expect a post of his here sometime in the morning) can consistently be counted on to take a position against Bush in virtually any thread posted here. I dismiss them, or anyone else (like Theoryhead) for the trolls they are, since their responses suggest that they don't know how to read. I believe if they did know how, and they understood what they read, they could find in this one blog alone all the information they need to understand that New Orleans was a political and engineering disaster waiting to happen.

I have relatives who live(d) in and near Shell Beach. I can remember, when I was a child, wondering about the thousands of dead trees in the marshes along Judge Perez Drive down towards Violet, and along Paris Road towards the Intracoastal Waterway. "MRGO" doomed the region from the moment it was excavated in 1965. Asides from killing local hunting and trapping, it decimated the swamps - the natural buffer zones that stood between our homes and the waves. It hastened coastal erosion in the area (National Geographic magazine, in its article on the area earlier in the year, reported that the original 500 ft wide channel, at Shell Beach, had become over half a mile wide.) Serving fewer than two ships per day, MRGO had become a funnel that would siphon a storm surge straight on to New Orleans' front porch.

I won't deny that there were many mistakes made regarding disaster management at the Federal level. Personally, I believe one of GWB's greatest f*ckups was to allow holdovers from the Clinton administration to hold high-level jobs in his, such as Brown and Tenet. I think Bush has not minded the federal purse as well as he could have, and his record on immigration issues is abysmal. However, anyone whose brain wasn't affected by BDS, PEST (remember that one?), the MSM, or someone's pet political talking points, could easily discover that Bush practically begged Blanco to let the Feds manage the post-storm response. As has been noted on this blog and elsewhere, Blanco dicked around. She danced while Rome burned - or in this case, flooded, 36 HOURS after the storm ended. And Nagin let the school buses get filled with water, then begged for motor coaches.

The MSM counts on the public's collective memory to be as short as a two year old child's attention span. If Brownie is their "anonymous" source, then he's a useful idiot. That doesn't change the facts, though: the levees failed when waters that were BELOW THE LEVEE TOPS drained into the City. Nor does it change the fact that Blanco and Nagin acted in wanton disregard to their Federally-funded ESOPs, or that the levee contractor in 1994 complained to the USACOE that the barrier walls were being installed in substrate that was not up to an acceptable minimum compaction standard, at the specified penetration depth.

But, hey. The truth is, it was that dastardly evil genius Karl Rove's fault. Right?


"I'm in New Zealand now, an... (Below threshold)

"I'm in New Zealand now, and here in Helengrad, they don't have a clue"

Wanderlust - who cares where you are and why New Zealanders should care ?

As a New Zealander I find it insulting when egocentric load mouthed yanks go around insulting other countries leaders while a guest in that country.

Quite frankly I would be more happy if you went home.

Just put your cash over the... (Below threshold)

Just put your cash over there before you go.

Quite frankly, the levees c... (Below threshold)
Margo Demers:

Quite frankly, the levees could have failed yesterday, one year ago, ten years ago. It really does not matter who was president, nor what party controlled the senate...corruption in N.O. ate up any kind of funds that were to be used to strengthen or improve same. Local and state officials held out their hands to the government, the government filled those hands with cash. Some of the cash went into the official's own pockets, some of it went to the "less fortunate", keeping said "less fortunate" in a state of perpetual entitlement; depending on their corrupt local leaders for everything.

The Mayor is "shocked"; I'm sure that the governor and the senator will also be "shocked". Their defense will be much like that guy at Enron, the one who said "I didn't do anything illegal; I was just the 'big picture' guy". Who else can we blame? It's Bush's fault. It's the Republican's fault. Bush comes from Texas. There's a lot of Republicans in Texas. Texas ladies have big hair. Big hair requires hair spray. Hair spray damaged the ozone layer. The damaged ozone layer melted the polar ice cap. The melted polar ice cap caused the hurricane. Therefore, Bush created the hurricane.

Katrina was a horrible horrible storm, and my heart does still ache for all of it's victims. But mostly the innocent; the elderly people, the babies. The sick. The dogs, cats, birds and hamsters. The ones who really could not help themselves. I know that I cannot appreciate the magnitude of it all, because I was safe on the eastern shore of Maryland, watching it unfold on television.

I never thought it was God's wrath on New Orleans; it was a hurricane, and a bad one. But the hurricane also hit St. Bernard's Parish; it hit Mississippi, and Texas, and Alabama. The Gulf Coast. There was massive devistation from hurricanes in many places last summer.

But why do we only hear about New Orleans? Is it the squeaky wheel getting the grease? Is it because local government has created a society that cannot take care of itself?

I remember a news report about a neighborhood in Mississippi after the hurricane. Twelve men from the neighborhood started clearing the roads themselves. No water. No electricity. No help had reached them yet. But they got up, and started making things better. Without government help.

New Orleans became almost like a violent video game after the hurricane. Aid workers being shot at. Cops looting stores. School buses sitting in eight feet of water. People screaming and crying to the news cameras for help; help arriving and being shot at. It was surreal.

Now, it's 2006, and fingers are still being pointed everywhere but at themselves. Katrina refugees are all over the country; many of the towns that are housing large numbers of them have experienced crime rates that have gone through the ceiling. FEMA has told some that the free handout is over. And these people are on the news...telling how the government is letting them down, how they have no place to go.

And still I think about those men in Mississippi, who got up the next day, and put one foot in front of the other. They helped themselves, and they worked together.

Brownie you're doi... (Below threshold)
Brownie you're doing a heck of an image rehabilitation job...

Turd Blossom, you're not doing such a heck of an image rehabilitation job.

Margo -- I love the Texas b... (Below threshold)

Margo -- I love the Texas big-haired women link. It really was a conspiracy after all.

You have to be smoking crac... (Below threshold)

You have to be smoking crack and very delusional to actually continue supporting Bush after this revelation. You suffer from classic battered wife syndrome. You keep getting the crap knocked out of you and your addiction to Bush's dysfunction keeps you coming back for more!

You ignore reason and rationality to maintain your "belief" in the corrupt president. You sacrifice your integrity rather than admit failure. How pathetic you are.

"...but not that they could... (Below threshold)

"...but not that they could have done anything four days before the storm to keep the levees from breeching."
Posted by: k2law at March 2, 2006 04:19 AM


You must be on crack. The federal gov't had years and years to prepare for this storm, and chose to spend money on pork barrel projects instead. George Bush was president when Katrina hit, so the buck stops there. And just like 9/11, where was George when all hell was about to break loose? On vacation!!!

I'm always amazed how conservatives offer up "personal responsibilty" when cutting social programs, but never practice it when they screw up. Practice what you preach.

I'm not sure when (if ever) the measly 34% who still think/hope/believe/want to believe that Bush is doing a "good job" will ever get it - THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES FOLKS!!

Gee, that's funny. What ha... (Below threshold)

Gee, that's funny. What happened to whiney Darlene, loudmouth Beth, and misinformed McGeehee? Boy, they're awfully quiet these days. Could it possibly be that they've finally opened their blissfully uneducated minds, and are realizing that their idol George Bush really sucks as president?

The "breeching of the levee... (Below threshold)

The "breeching of the levees" being anticipated was one of those stories that the media kept trying to push, but every time they came up with a cite, it was always about the levees being overtopped.

yeah, if memory serves me c... (Below threshold)

yeah, if memory serves me correctly, bush basically told everybody to get the hell out of dodge. i can't see how it's his fault if they didn't listen.

Daniel:Lots of ref... (Below threshold)


Lots of references to crack pipes here. Maybe they thought they couldn't take it with them. LOL

Theoryhead:"On ... (Below threshold)


"On the one hand, Kevin is right: the footage shows a storm expert discussing the levees being "topped" and not breached. The AP fails for not providing evidence that the term "breached" was used in the briefing. But do we really need to get down to this level of parsing?"

Only if you insist that there's a difference between slopping water over the top in a bathtub, and whacking a hole in it with a hammer. The former is easily mopped up, the other not so easily repaired. When it comes to engineering, terminology DOES matter - it's not meaningless parsing at all.

Correction - make that "NO ... (Below threshold)

Correction - make that "NO difference" between slopping water over the top and breaking the bathtub.

PIMF. Sigh.

This thread provides an ama... (Below threshold)

This thread provides an amazing contrast. On the one hand, we have numerous individuals -- some of whom have some knowledge of disaster management and NO/LA politics -- who have taken the time and effort to explain the facts about what happened as well as the difference between the terms "overtopped" and "breached." On the other hand, we have what has become typical of the Left in situations like this, when the facts do not accrue to their favor: no attempt to address the substantive issues, just the usual "the bottom line is, Bush is a dumbass who should have know better." In other words, don't confuse me with the facts.

If you libs are simply unable to analyze information and comprehend what you read, then don't read weblogs like this one. Go back to Kos-land. You are, in the words of a now-famous general, "stuck on stupid."

I think what the video conf... (Below threshold)

I think what the video conference shows is GWBs somewhat naive belief that FEMA was up to handling whatever Katrina had to throw at New Orleans. It wasn't. GWB's faith in that agency was misplaced.

Katrina demonstrated the combined failure of local, state and federal government to do what we expect it to do. Will anything constructive come of this, so history isn't repeated? As long as we only try to point blame, especially at GWB, no. Those most strident critics are only trying to damage the president, and are not offering any constructive suggestions to correct this ineptitude.

I liked Margo's description of the Mississippians going to work on their own to clear the debris. Would that more Americans looked to themselves rather than government to take care of themselves. If you abdicate your responsibility to take care of yourself, and expect government to take care of you, be prepared for disappointments.

And just think, the same governments that brought you the Katrina disaster response could also bring you your health insurance! Oh joy! I am so looking forward to the socialist utopia we will enjoy once Hillary becomes our queen. Er president.

Sloan, well said. ... (Below threshold)

Sloan, well said.

Too true, Sloan.Du... (Below threshold)

Too true, Sloan.

During the evacuation, I didn't have much to do so I took the opportunity to read over the 2005 minutes of the Orleans Levee Board. I summarized them here but the bottom line is that according to their own minutes, which we can assume record their mission and acts in a favorable light, they did no meaningful work building or maintaining levees. They worried about bus stops over which they had no jurisdiction. They wondered how they could micromanage the fulfillment of pain prescriptions by a pharmacist they were considering renting one of their many commercial properties to. They tried to figure out how to make more money with their airport and marinas. And this is the organization whose mission statement begins: "The Orleans Levee District is dedicated to protecting the lives and property of the citizens of Orleans Parish by constructing, operating and maintaining the Mississippi River and Hurricane Protection Flood Control Systems..."

The fact is that we brought this on ourselves by permitting decades of corruption and mismanagement.

jp2 and mantis (who hasn... (Below threshold)

jp2 and mantis (who hasn't shown up yet, but I expect a post of his here sometime in the morning) can consistently be counted on to take a position against Bush in virtually any thread posted here. I dismiss them, or anyone else (like Theoryhead) for the trolls they are, since their responses suggest that they don't know how to read. I believe if they did know how, and they understood what they read, they could find in this one blog alone all the information they need to understand that New Orleans was a political and engineering disaster waiting to happen.

So you are arguing against a post I haven't made on the basis that I can "consistently be counted on to take a position against Bush", and I don't know how to read? Well, where to start. First, you're full of shit. I rarely go after Bush around here and when I do it's mostly on policy, not on what he says or how he says it. The most recent post I made about Bush was to say I agreed with him on the Dubai Ports deal. So I guess you are the one who cannot read. If you have a problem with something I write, respond to it, but don't give me this "mantis will post this" bullshit again, because you're wrong.

I don't think President Bush controls the weather. Katrina was not his fault. The blame for the levee failure falls on the Army Corps of Engineers. I know this, in large part, thanks to the work of Paul. So back off, Wanderlust, I'm not your strawman.

Oh, btw:

I believe one of GWB's greatest f*ckups was to allow holdovers from the Clinton administration to hold high-level jobs in his, such as Brown and Tenet.

Brown was not a Clinton holdover, he was appointed in 2003. But if you were paying attention or knew how to read you would know that.

Hmmm.1. Didn't one... (Below threshold)


1. Didn't one of the leveee boards spend federal money on installing fiber optic cables?

2. Frankly any post with "Katrina" in it is a lefty magnet.

*shrug* what are you going to do? They've got this bizzare viewpoint and nothing is going to change it. Not facts. Not reality. Not reason or sense. To them it doesn't matter that a federal law prevents the President from unilaterally replacing the govenor of a state even if that govenor is showing utter incompetence.

And really now. Who really wants to go on record defending Mayor Ray Nagin? It's been months and this guy still can't get his act together.

So exactly when is King Geo... (Below threshold)
babs b:

So exactly when is King George responsible for screwing up? Never, according to the dismal 34% who still support him (and who seem quite active on this thread).

This nonsense of levees being "topped" or "breached" kind of reminds me of Bill Clinton's ridiculous "it depends on what the definition of is is". Except this time, 1300 people died. Stop splitting hairs, and stop blaming the residents of NO for what happened.

Theoryhead writes:... (Below threshold)

Theoryhead writes:

"Oh, and by the way, I love how [Mike] brought up Bill Clinton. My god, some people must have the oddest fetishes for that man."

I only brought it up because the Democrat spin after Katrina -- echoed by Bill Clinton himself -- was that FEMA was completely reformed into a perfectly-functioning agency by Clinton, and that FEMA's disaster response would have been executed flawlessly during his administration. Therefore, everything was Bush's fault because Bush appointed the incompetent Michael Brown as head of FEMA and the two of them completely screwed the agency up.

My memory is not very short. How's yours?

In any event, K2Law pretty much shredded any attempt by Democrats to blame "everything" on Bush. And as Merle pointed out, Bush's only real mistake was assuming that everyone down the line had done their jobs. We don't live in a monarchy. We're all responsible for doing our part. And we should all be held accountable when we fail.

Babs, the "topped" or "bree... (Below threshold)

Babs, the "topped" or "breeched" difference is *hugely* signficant. Go back and do some more reading until you understand that.

The people of New Orleans - and the rest of this region - are most at fault for condoning and participating in the corruption that brought us to having inadequate levees. You can go right back to the Eisenhower administration when Leander Perez had a hissy fit about offshore oil revenues - he insisted on 100% when every other state got 50%, and we consequently got *nothing* - and so we have had billions less to spend on flood defense than we would otherwise have had. Well, in all fairness, our officials would have probably spent it on Swedish granite or some other crap... but my point is, if I let my property deteriorate to the point that a hard wind knocks the building down, whose fault is that? Mine, or the government's fault for not planting trees around the perimeter as a wind break? It's been proved beyond doubt that this storm would not have impacted New Orleans the way it did, if we have done what we should have for the last 50 years. It didn't even HIT here, it just brushed us.

Future Wizbang sentence:</p... (Below threshold)
Double Edith:

Future Wizbang sentence:

The BDS syndrome sufferers in the MSM, who don't know a good canine neck massage when they see it, have totally misrepresented Bush's alleged puppy strangling on live TV.

Babs, language is important... (Below threshold)

Babs, language is important. Words mean things. We shouldn't bend them to fit our own political ends or to cover our ass. That's what Clinton did.

The difference between "overtopped" and "breached" is as important to this issue as is the difference between "burglary" and "robbery" in a court of law. In both cases, property was stolen, but one of these crimes is MUCH more serious than the other. You think it's too fine a distinction? It's pretty damned important to the guy in the dock. In the case of the levees, it's the difference between a problem that could possibly still be managed, and the complete catastrophe we witnessed.

And the majority of those 1300 people died because they either could not, or would not, evacuate. And who's responsibility was it to evacuate them? Hint: NOT THE PRESIDENT'S. Obviously you missed it, so go back and read what has already been written about the responsibilities of state and local governments in disaster situations like this.

Oh, never mind. You don't give a damn about the truth anyway, so long as you can score points against "King George." You just further reinforced the point of my previous post. Nice work!

The video said, President B... (Below threshold)

The video said, President Bush was warned that levees could break and he later asserted that no such warning occured. I call this a typical feature of the Bush administration and is similar to the Iraq War, which seems to be slowly sliding into civil war, which some have said it is a great likelihood long before the war!

Clinton's presidency was not very successful, but Bush's is a disaster! Thanks to Bush, America's standing in the world has reached new lows, radical Islam is quickly succeeding, and US influence in the world waning. There is precious little success during this presidency.

Maybe it's just human natur... (Below threshold)
Margo Demers:

Maybe it's just human nature to pass the buck. At times, we all (myself included)want someone to blame when something happens.

You saw it after 9/11. You saw it after Katrina.

I think that we sometimes waste so much energy placing blame; we should use that energy to make sure history does not repeat itself.

But that would only happen in a perfect world, a world where nobody (conservative or liberal, republican or democrat, black skin or white skin) would use tragedy and failure as a political platform.

What is interesting in all ... (Below threshold)

What is interesting in all this is how certain responders love to cherry-pick their information when writing. Just like a certain Administration I know.

My beef with George has to do with his repeated claim that no one considered the levees would breach. Consider that for just a moment. When thinking about how a Category 5 hurricane would effect New Orleans, no one thought the levees would break. None of you think this preposterous? If not, I have some land in the Big Easy I can sell you.

Now, in my posts, did I ever excuplate Nagin and Blanco? No, I said there was a lot of blame to go around. But this fact is not what is at issue in this story, so specifying how inept, stupid and blameworthy Nagin and Blanco are, as irresponsible and corrupt as they may be, in the context of a story regarding what Bush was told before Katrina is...changing the subject.

To Mike, when you bring up Bill Clinton without giving some useful context or a developed position, you come off to people like me as a knee-jerk Clinton basher. I personally did not like Clinton, his policies, his politics or his excruciatingly long speeches. But if you want to show how bringing him into this is relevant, do so.

And a closing story for tho... (Below threshold)

And a closing story for those of you who like to pontificate about partisan politics.

Three children, George, Bill and Mary, are chasing after an ice cream truck. When they finally reach it, they find out that the truck only sells chocolate and vanilla ice cream. George buys a scoop of chocolate while Bill chooses the vanilla. While Mary is mulling her choices, George asks her if she is going to buy some chocolate. "It's the best you know. Or do you like that crappy vanilla?" Bill, offended by this, says, "Vanilla rules! Only an idiot would choose chocolate."

Mary ponders this for a moment and then replies, "There are lots of ice creams and other ice cream trucks. I prefer pistachio, so I will simply wait. By the way, why did you choose what you did?" George chortles, "You must like vanilla. People who don't choose chocolate have to be vanilla fans." Bill counters, "You love that horrible chocolate! I knew it!" Mary shrugged her shoulders and went off looking for her pistachio and smarter friends.

Hmmm.1. <blockquot... (Below threshold)



My beef with George has to do with his repeated claim that no one considered the levees would breach. Consider that for just a moment. When thinking about how a Category 5 hurricane would effect New Orleans, no one thought the levees would break. None of you think this preposterous? If not, I have some land in the Big Easy I can sell you.

Katrina was a Category 3 storm when it hit New Orleans you asshat. Which is why nobody thought the levees would breach because the levees were rated to handle a Category 3 storm.

If you're going to push some wierd diatribe then at least please get the basic frickin facts correct ok? I'm starting to feel like a bloody proofreader for liberal commenters.


And a closing story for those of you who like to pontificate about partisan politics.

Frankly I'm amazed.

There is enough blame to go... (Below threshold)

There is enough blame to go around:

1. NO residents who could have left, but didn't.
2. Local officials for not evacuating NO residents who couldn't evacuate themselves and enforcing mandatory evacuation.
3. Federal government to for the levy construction and saying they're prepared, and demonstrating otherwise.

End of discussion.

This goes for both, liberals and conservatives.

Kevin, GWB has some Kool-Ai... (Below threshold)
Mark C:

Kevin, GWB has some Kool-Aid for you. Drink up!

Everyone, let's return focu... (Below threshold)
Mark C:

Everyone, let's return focus on the really important question--how are Trent Lott's house rebuilding efforts are going?

What is wrong with the news... (Below threshold)

What is wrong with the news? Too many things to mention.

But there is a solution coming:


One president and one flash... (Below threshold)

One president and one flash point. He started a hurricane, faked intelligence, started wild fires in Texas, failed to wiretap 911 terrorists, wiretaps all trustworthy people, racially profiles "grandmas" at airports, does not racially profile countries and so on! Regardless of my vote in the last election he became my president and his deficiencies are not as great as thecritics and pundits insist. He has been very busy being made the focal point for US failure. What has congress been doing? What has the press been doing? Just hoping and planning for US failure so power can change sides of the isle. I would like to see both sides of the isle stand and cheer the successes regardless of who is president. I would like to see both sides of the isle work to correct our deficiencies rather than create more. I urge everyone not to take sides because sooner or later you too may be a party to a "Rathergate"! Gingrich learned that the hard way. Perhaps Boxer and a litany of others will soon follow.

I saw Trent on TV yesterday... (Below threshold)

I saw Trent on TV yesterday or the day before and he didn't even deign to mention his rebuilding...the nerve. Inquiring minds want to know!

As for me...I'm going to Staples to get me one of them EASY buttons or whatever the hell they're shilling. When I push it deranged liberals (not all of them, just the deranged ones) will suddenly understand that when reports are that the levees held, but then you find out they didn't, it is OK to say that after the hurricane had already been and gone but before everybody realizes that the levees didn't do so good after all, 'nobody thought they were going to fail during this storm', what with the hurricane being gone and all, like I said, and all them hundreds of reporters calling in headlines that read 'whew! we dodged a big one!'

But I bet they'll all be sold out, the AP already bought a bunch to make people believe that being told what could happen is the same as being told what will happen. Think that'll work for the lottery? "excuse me, mr. lottery dude, the lady that sold me this ticket said that if I picked the right numbers I'd win a bazillion dollars, so I'm figuring I got the right numbers for tomorrow's drawing and I'd like my cash."

This might be a help to tho... (Below threshold)

This might be a help to those concerned over the "overtop" versus "breach" terminology issue. The following quote is from an American Society of Civil Engineers letter (www.asce.org/files/pdf/ERPLetter.pdf) to LTG Carl Strock of the US Army Corps of Engineers in regards to the Katrina disaster.

"A fundamental flaw in the floodwalls and levees is that they include no means of accommodating overtopping that does not inflict major damage or destruction. Once the levees were overtopped during Katrina, rushing water eroded away many sections of levee and in other cases undermined floodwalls. Most of the 350 miles of levees in New Orleans are unprotected from devastating damage and potentially total destruction if overtopped."

So, as a civil engineer/hydrologist, I would just like people to understand that overtopping was a major cause of the destruction. These systems should not be compared with bathtubs because once a levee is overtopped, the backside is subjected to intense scour (unlike your erosion-resistant bathtub). A vast majority of the levees in New Orleans were not able to handle this scour and the foundations of the levees were compromised and a breach occurred.


The most hilarious thing ab... (Below threshold)

The most hilarious thing about Bush is that he's made his supporters exact replicas of Clinton's supporters. You will defend every lie and manipulation by this administration with the equivalent of "that depends upon what the definition of 'is' is".

Absolutely pathetic.

Fact is, Bush told a bold-faced lie to you right to your face, and you're too stupid to acknowledge it (you know it's true, you just won't admit it). You folks should be called "Forrest Gump Republicans", stupid is as stupid does, and all that.

Y'all gotta be lovin' that 34% approval rating right about now, yes?


Thank you for that insightf... (Below threshold)

Thank you for that insightful commentary, RAC. Calling me names will certainly demonstrate the correctness of your position. In fact, I'd like to thank you for pointing out the error of my thinking. By all means, I no longer wish to be "pathetic," a "Forrest Gump Republican," or "stupid." Henceforth, I shall always vote Democrat.

Oh, and for those of you who are Democrats, that's called "sarcasm."

As a former resident of New... (Below threshold)
Forrest Gump:

As a former resident of New Orleans (I escaped a year ago last September), we had friends stay with us during the hurricane. They brought 3 days worth of clothes......as most did.....because what happened took EVERYONE by surprise. Both Republicans and Democrats lost homes. The storm missed New Orleans. The mayor said himself that New Orleans had dodged a bullet. The fact is, it would have taken years to prevent what had happened. In the past, millions of federal dollars were pumped in to a Democratic strong hold and the funds were misused. Before Nagin became mayor, the accounting system for New Orleans was done by hand....on paper. The school system was corrupt. The school superintendant's father was a janitor making $70k a year...the police force had the FBI investigating it again and again. The levee board was loaded with corruption. Nagin did do some cleaning up and for that, he received death threats.
The hurricane did not flood New Orleans, it was a levee breach on the 17th street canal that flooded parts of Metairie, Kenner and New Orleans THE DAY AFTER THE HURRICANE. If the hurricane was an imminant threat, Mayor Nagin should have called for a manidory evacuation 72 hours prior to landfall as stated in the plan he came up with. But he didnt do that because it came down to money. He did not want to spend the money to take the people out of the city for a storm that may or may not hit. It was the plan he and his administration came up with.

The govorner did not call for an evacuation either.

The senator didnt call for an evacuation either.

President Bush did call for an evacuation but chose not to impose his will on the local government.

The president failed because he trusted the word of a Democrat and people died because of that. I hope he has learned his lesson....never trust a Democrat when a life is in the balance.....

It is a fact that those who screamed warnings of levee breaches had done so for decades. Eventually they are tuned out because they predict doom and gloom every hurricane.

Everyone knew they lived in a bowl. Everyone knew it could happen at any time. It is a city that was very apathetic about the whole thing.

If you live below sea level, in a bowl, in the path of hurricanes, what do you think is going to happen? They did little to prepare for it.

One would think that during the Clinton years with Democratic leadership from federal top to local bottom for the city that it would have been utopia. There would be no homeless. Everyone would have a college degree and a car. The levee system should have been made 100 feet high out of concrete. But nothing changed over those years. The corruption and care free attitude continued. The poor remained poor. Things never got better for them and they sucked the teet of the government sow for all it was worth.

Screaming that it was Bush's fault seems to get the milk flowing because Republicans actually care about the welfare of people...in fact, these supposed victims are living better than they ever have.

The people in the 9th ward of New Orleans suffered for many, many years under Democratic rule. Nothing was done to ease their plight until the president stepped in. It took a disaster to give him the authority to do so.

The Democrats have raised generation after generation of poor, black, uneducated, and most of all ignorant people. The kept them on a plantation of false hope that if they just kept voting Democrat, then next year would be better.

Well, next year came and now the shacks that they lived in are gone....replaced by various forms of housing all better than where they came from....and who do they have to thank for this new opportunity in life? None other than President Bush!

EGBooth:To my know... (Below threshold)
Andrew Paterson:


To my knowledge, none of the Levee's were 'overtopped', ie the storm surge was never so high that water flowed over them. Certain Levee's failed, ie collapsed while until that such successfully holding back water. Isn't this the key point?

*"ie collapsed immediately ... (Below threshold)
Andrew Paterson:

*"ie collapsed immediately after a time when they had succesfully been holding back water"

Andrew,I'm not sur... (Below threshold)


I'm not sure where you got your information from but the levees most definitely overtopped.

This is from the "Preliminary Report on the Performance of the New Orleans Levee Systems" given to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:

"Most of the levee and floodwall failures were caused by overtopping, as the storm surge rose over the tops of the levees and/or their floodwalls and produced erosion/scour that subsequently led to failures and breaches."

I encourage you to read through the whole report. It's really interesting (at least for a geek like me) It's available here: http://hsgac.senate.gov/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Hearings.Detail&HearingID=290

I also was fortunate enough to see the group who published that report present at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting this past December. They extensively surveyed the flood damage with LiDAR. They had incredible 3-D animations of the enormous scour holes formed by the overtopping of the levees. The scour holes were present next to where the levees used to be but the levee materials were sometimes a hundred yards or more away.

Thanks for the laugh all yo... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Thanks for the laugh all you right wing wackos. Republicans caring about anybody but themselves is really funny.

It's worth noting that Cuba... (Below threshold)

It's worth noting that Cuba was hit by Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane and they had zero deaths. Since Castro is a better leader than Bush I'm not sure what all the hay is about.

Bush slept before 911, slept during intelligence briefings on WMD, slept during budget talks (largest deficits in history) and slept while we lost a city to Katrina.

If Bush wasn't so incompetent the right could brag about his many accomplishments, instead of defending his enumerable failures.

Don't you dimwads get it?</... (Below threshold)

Don't you dimwads get it?

NOBODY IS BLAMING BUSH FOR THE FACT THAT KATRINA HAPPENED. If they are, liberal or conservative, they are dumbarses.

What people are blaming Bush for, and the reason that all this furor exists, is Bush's absolute and utter inability to admit when HE has made a mistake.

This problem seems to be endemic in the administration; Cheney shoots a man, and then has the balls to blame that man. Yes, he later changed his tune a bit, but at first, it was all about how that guy shouldn't have been in the way.

Was that a stupid hunting accident? Of course it was. But the point is the same: instead of stepping up to the plate and being men (and women) about it, the Bush administration is showing a trend, again and again, of being completely unable to admit to mistakes, being unable to simply take responsibility and fix things. They seek scapegoats, they cast the blame, or they flat out lie (and then when caught in those lies, they rely -- with a fair degree of success -- upon a fairly large network of professional and amateur spin-doctors to make everything right).

This argument over whether the levees were "breeched" or topped is as irrelevant and disgusting as Bill Clinton arguing about what the definition of "is" is. George W. Bush ran, at least partially, on a platform of making us all safer, and on his personality as a straight-shootin', get-things-done kinda guy.

He is failing on both counts, utterly, and things like this, and the fact that you spinsters are more interested in saving his political bacon than making sure that the ENTIRE administration, from Nagin to Bush, are held accountable for their failures and making sure this NEVER happens again. Instead, you want to find ways to shift the blame from your Golden Boy Bush.

I thought that with a real leader, "the buck stops here." I guess that Bush isn't a real leader, then. Why can't he and Cheney and Rummy and the rest learn some humility, and just say "hey, we (not Chertoff, not Brown, but WE) screwed up. We're going to fix it"? Apparently, humility and responsibility -- you know, that much-vaunted personal responsibility that you're all howling about, blaming the poor residents of New Orleans for not being able to fix their own darned levees! -- are simply beyond this administration.

THAT is what the furor is about. THAT is what "Portgate" is about. THAT is why people are pissed, and George W. Bush's approval ratings are starting to make Nixon look good.

But I guess you'll just spin that, attack the messenger, and miss the point again.

I'll make it easy for liber... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

I'll make it easy for liberals to understand the difference between "overtopped" and "breached", using one of their heroes as an example.

When Ted Kennedy drinks liquor, the booze overtops the glass and goes into his alcoholic body. When he drove his car off the bridge, the water breached the car windows and doors, drowning that poor young girl.

to Forrest Gump. Some part... (Below threshold)

to Forrest Gump. Some parts of Old Metairie flooded from the 17th Street Canal breach. Kenner and other parts of Metairie flooded because the pumps were turned off and the pump stations evacuated by Aaron Broussard.

GW claims that he heard news reports that claimed we had dodged a bullet and thus, no one anticipated the levees would breach. Funny, but I think I also remember hearing him say that he does not read the news... I thought this man said what he meant and meant what he said. Doesn't matter anyhow because he did not even come to the region until 4 days after the storm. Until then, he was eating cake and playing guitar (while on a working vacation) And those in New Orleans suffered.

Kim, it made a lot more sen... (Below threshold)

Kim, it made a lot more sense for Bush to stay out of the way in the immediate aftermath. What did you expect him to do, get in a boat and start rescuing people? Why come over here in the midst of the chaos just for a photo op, hindering rescue efforts with Presidential-level security issues? Anything administrative he needed to do could be done quietly, either in Texas or here but on Airforce 1 where security was easier to deal with.

And yes, I realize he had h... (Below threshold)

And yes, I realize he had his picture taken in Biloxi. I thought that sucked and he should have kept out of the way.

Hmmm.The ... (Below threshold)


The most hilarious thing about Bush is that he's made his supporters exact replicas of Clinton's supporters.

Sigh. You liberals really bore me.

Wow, what a slugfest this t... (Below threshold)

Wow, what a slugfest this thread has become...yikes.

First, time to eat crow: mantis, you were right; I was wrong, regarding Brownie's appointment. Not one of GWB's better decisions, by far. And I do recall Paul (here) screaming about Brownie's incompetence long before anyone else had picked up speed, as it were, on this blog, including me. Paul was in it, living it, and I was not.

Also, I did note that you agreed with GWB on the ports deal. So if it means anything to you, I freely admit I was speaking out of my ass when I typed what I said about you, and I was wrong. You have demonstrated your reasons for things far more fairly than I have given you credit for.

Second, to "Kiwi": yes, I am here in New Zealand. Get over it. Your country loves my money, but it comes at a price: you get my opinions along with the greenbacks. Go re-read what I wrote, and discover that I was talking about how your countrymen simply don't understand United States disaster management emergency standard operating procedure (ESOP), because those ESOPs build up from local to national, not national down to local, as in NZ and most countries in Europe.

In my own experience, many people in NZ understand things about the USA only as far as the Nanny Herald's regurgitation of Independent and Guardian (UK) stories will allow. And Fiskie is well regarded here.

Your country survives off of the financing, industry, export markets, and relative peace on the high seas that is provided by the stabilising presence of US money, markets, and political hegemony. You may not like it, but you will deal with it. And as to "insulting leaders", I voted in the last NZ election, which gives me as much right to criticise this Government as much as anyone else who voted.

BTW I noted with a smile that one of the first stops on the maiden voyage of CVN 76 was Brisbane. Must be that free trade agreement thingy...

I for one am horrified at t... (Below threshold)
Fred Evil:

I for one am horrified at the way the administration has allowed Michael Brown to be thrown under the FLEET of buses that they recently drove over him.....I originally thought this guy Brown was worthless.....only to find out that while he's certainly not squeaky clean, he ain't as bad as the administration made him out to be!!

In a large public corporation, now would be the time for the board of directors to quietly ask for the CEO's resignation, and if they didn't get it, force him out....IF SOMEONE ISN'T DOING THEIR JOB, THEY GET FIRED!!

We certainly have our fair share of political posturing and finger-pointing going on, but Bush himself has said he takes reponsibility for the disaster. He hired these guys, and he should've fired these guys, at least Chertoff....how many lost their lives in Katrina? I have heard a lot of numbers, 2-3000 maybe? maybe more, maybe less, I don't know. But if you run a snowplow company, and a big blizzard is coming, and you assure everyone that you've got 'em covered, and then it hits, 5 feet of snow, and you don't even start the plows for a couple of days, meanwhile people freeze to death in their homes, car accidents abound, who's at fault? Who gets sued? Who is liable? It seems clear to me, that Bush WAS advised that it was distinctly possible that flooding, and maybe SERIOUS flooding, could/would occur, yet days later, he stated that no one considered the possibility the levees would fail...?! They are only rated for a Cat3 storm at most, and this was a big Cat5 less than 24 hours before landfall, how could they be doing their jobs, if they WEREN'T considering that possibility?! Heck, I sat at home, and watched the coverage, and -I- considered the possibility!!

Bottom line, it is time for this country to consider removing the President in defense of itself. He is not leading us in a clear and strong manner, he staggers from one incompetent bungling to another, only every time he bungles, a couple of thousand people die!

This who-knew-what-and-when... (Below threshold)

This who-knew-what-and-when nonsense is nothing but a blame game designed to sell newspapers and generate website hits and TV ratings.

My house flooded in Katrina. All I want is for New Orleans to be fixed. When a patient dies doctors do a post-mortem to figure out what went wrong. A post-mortem is inappropriate when the patient is still alive! New Orleans is not dead and gone, and the most offensive thing about this squabble is that the citizens of this great city struggle every day to get back on their feet while the foolish pundits argue about what happened in some kind of a vacuum, as if Katrina were a fait accompli.

Stop arguing and help, or be quiet.

I love theoryhead's little ... (Below threshold)

I love theoryhead's little parable and similar sentiments expressed elsewhere. BSD is not a phenomenon of the Democratic party per se, I have found. Most of these reactionaries find the Dems too pussilanimous in their Nazification of George Bush as well as their pace of progress towards a worker's paradise. The negativity of our society has accreted into this pall the Dems intend to mine for votes as they have done so successfully in the past but the peak was long ago, if vote fraud did not serve them so well. Presumably, in theroyheads Aesopean icecream truck, vanilla is Republican (natch!) and chocolate Democrat. But smarty smart smart, she likes pistachio. As do I. But what party is pistachio? What kind of market share does pistachio enjoy? And we're going to another truck? The truck I guess is the Constitutional republic we have known so long, right? So where is the other truck? Does this neighborhood have two? More? Sorry, unless you are talking some sort of revolution their ain't no second truck, much less any more. Pistachio is out there but it isn't winning ANY elections. Hilarious! Enjoy that pistachio, hoss. You and all the other pistachio voters can have a nice convention in a Baskin-Robbins somewhere. And not a large Baskin-Robbins at that.

OK, here's an excellent syn... (Below threshold)

OK, here's an excellent synopsis of what happened when in the Katrina time line. http://www.factcheck.org/article348.html

It will be helpful if you truly want to familiarize yourself with the FACTS as opposed to what you want the facts to be, whatever your worldview may be.

Fred, MSNBC reports on the death toll here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11281267/

After reviewing the timeline above, it's clear as I stated way above that Bush was naive in thinking FEMA was prepared. It wasn't, nor were the local authorities. Again, plenty of blame to go around.

And again, as Fred states, Bush did accept responsibility for the federal failures, and vowed to correct things. A review, with a focus on reform and reorganization would be very helpful. However, a review used for political finger pointing and demagoguing gets us nowhere.

On the "overtopping" vs. "breaching" issue, I think you don't really need a video conference to know that the issue of catastrophic flooding was a fear for New Orleans. Heck, all you had to do was turn on the Weather Channel. Bush's statement that "No one expected the levees to breach," made to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, September 1, 2005, is just, well, incredible in light of what the news was reporting in the 24-48 hours prior to the landfall. How could you not anticipate it? How could you not fear it? I don't need a video conference where "overtopping" was discussed to prove to me that the Sept. 1 statement was rather ridiculous, and at best naive.

The reaction of conservatives - me included - to the recent news reports that "Bush was warned" is to the extent of well, duh! Of course he was. No big news there. I suppose it's the whole preoccupation with catching people in lies now. Is that Clinton's legacy? Martha Stewart's? Scooter Libby? I think Bush's statement was more dumb than a lie. Or his polyanna outlook on things. Face it, he's always a "glass is half full" kinda guy, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Some of us like his optimism.

Bush put too much faith in government at all levels to be prepared and respond appropriately after the landfall. What we got was government at all levels demonstrating it's incompetence to respond to a disaster - at least in New Orleans. Mississippi got it right locally.

Wanderlust,Well no... (Below threshold)


Well now I wish I'd been nicer. I can't really blame you as I also see so many of the lefty commenters here do nothing but bash Bush or Republicans. I just don't like to be lumped into a category with the drive-by Bush ChimpyMcHitlerBurton crowd; they add nothing to any debate and they make liberals who are interested in facts, reason, and substance (as I try to be, most of the time ;) look bad by association. Peace.

Say what you will about eva... (Below threshold)

Say what you will about evacuation, but there wasn't that much time. I live in Baton Rouge. All week, the projected path of the storm was the FL panhandle, AL, MS, etc. I went to bed Friday night thinking we were well on the west side of the storm and didn't have much to worry about.

Got up Saturday morning, checked the projected path and Katrina was due to hit NO. Say what????? I looked at it again, thinking I'd misssed something. I had not. I headed to the grocery store and gas station PDQ, before everyone else got up on Saturday and realized we were going to get whacked.

To "Just Me" (re your quote: "Republicans caring about anybody but themselves is really funny."

I'm a registered Independent but vote Repuplican 99% of the time. Your statement is absurd. I volunteered untold hours at the animal shelter in Baton Rouge for at least a month. My boss was pretty liberal about work attendance so I spent several days a week, many hours a day, there. I have donated money and handmade materials for wounded soldiers and Marines, and I'm sure countless Republicans have done the same.

So the warnings weren't abo... (Below threshold)

So the warnings weren't about breaching, they were about the much less serious overtopping. Okay, I get it. So why do we get such serious warnings about something that's not so serious?

Bush Air National Guard sto... (Below threshold)

Bush Air National Guard story...

I never saw where those documents were proven false. Was there a court expert or police expert who did that?

Rewriting Katrina History -... (Below threshold)

Rewriting Katrina History - AP Style

It's odd... from the video it looks like Mike Brown was actually trying hard and Bush is being his cagey self.

The documents were produced... (Below threshold)

The documents were produced on an MS equipped computer, not a typewriter of the '60s or '70s era as they would have been were they genuine. How can anyone claiming enough familiarity to discuss the issue not know that? Only intentional ignorance can explain it, as only intentional ignorance can explain so, so much these days. Rather's ANG story was a lie, plain and simple. Mostly simple.






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