09/05/2005: Local incompetence? Who cares?
Larry Johnson, at No Quarter, has three excellent posts showing that the current wingnut meme--that responsibility for the inadequate reaction to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is to be laid on the shoulders of state and local government, and not on the incompetence of the Bush bAdministration--is specious bullshit at best. In chronological order:
Katrina: Hotwash vs. Whitewash
Criminal Negligence and Katrina
Bush vs. Blanco: Bush Dropped the Ball
From the last cited post:
Don't let Bush off the hook. The White House effort to blame the Governor of Louisiana ignores some critical facts:Meanwhile, over at Why Now?, Bryan gives us an enlightening first person comparison between FEMA response to Hurricane Opal in 1995 and the response to Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Bryan also has an interesting post on The Siege of New Orleans:
The Governor of Louisiana declared a State of Emergency on 26 August 2005, which is a pre-requisite for invoking the Stafford Act:
The Governor, per the National Response Plan, followed this request with a letter on Saturday, 27 August 2005, invoking the Stafford Act. Note this letter inludes specific requests for aid:
President Bush, in keeping with the Stafford Act, issued a declaration of a State of Emergecy on 28 August 2005:
President Bush has declared a state of emergency for the Gulf Coast state of Louisiana, as it braces for the expected onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, set to make landfall on Monday.
Saturday's emergency declaration authorizes federal officials to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide appropriate assistance in several Louisiana parishes.
Hours earlier, Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi declared their own states of emergency in preparation for the storm, and evacuations of low-lying areas began. (From the Voice of America)
Now, according to the National Response Plan, the onus was on the Department of Homeland Security to kick the disaster relief effort into high gear. The State of Louisiana had provided the Feds with a basic list of needs.
The dispute over who controls the Louisiana National Guard is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the basic responsibility and clear failure of Federal Officials to do what they were authorized to do under their own National Response Plan.
This chart alone highlights the failure of Chertoff and Brown. If President Bush is in charge he ought to hold them accountable. [emphasis in original --LRC]
By now everyone has heard that assistance was prevented from entering New Orleans for days after it was available and people were begging for it. The reasoning put forward by Homeland Security was: if food and water was allowed into New Orleans people would refuse to evacuate.Shocking. Simply shocking.
I was somewhat stunned to be asked to accept that the Federal officials in charge of this effort actually believed that human beings would choose to live in the abject conditions of filth, discomfort and danger seen in and around the SuperDome and Convention Center if you gave them something to eat and clean water to drink. I can only conclude that Mr. Chertoff assumes that the residents of New Orleans are less than human.
The Federal officials wanted people out of New Orleans, so they laid siege to the city. They sealed it off from the outside world. They didn't provide the communications equipment that was sitting in warehouses and might have helped the overwhelmed public safety personnel maintain control of the situation. On Meet The Press Mr. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, tells us that FEMA cut emergency communications in his area. They might have been successful if members of the media with satellite phones hadn't managed to get in before they could complete their encirclement of the area.
They are still intent on starving out any stragglers. They have declared war on the city. They didn't want civil order to be maintained, they have done everything they could to prevent it.
How individuals can support officials who act with such inhumanity, and remain easy in their consciences, simply eludes me.
Len on 09.05.05 @ 06:10 PM CST