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FR ^ | September 4, 2005 | Greg Richey (Freeper Comitatus)

Posted on 09/05/2005 6:10:08 AM PDT by backhoe

This is a very long piece I wrote earlier today to help organize a lot of the information and arguments I have been using against the bush haters this week (and here in Marin county, they are out in force, let me tell you.) Feel free to use any of this if is interestin or useful, much of the info came from these links to begin with.


The rains from Katrina’s aftermath had barely begun to taper off before the utterly predictable, knee-jerk, blame-Bush for everything hysteria began to rage. The attacks are loud, strident and given top billing by the media, who have shamelessly and blatantly added their own negative, anti-Bush spin without investigating the facts or questioning the political motives of the critics.. It seems, those of us who look to the actual facts before we draw our own conclusions are forced to endure a hurricane of rhetoric, speculation, and just plain nonsense. So don your waders, as there are some actual facts amidst all the debris. Let’s start with the tin-foil hat stuff.


CLAIM: Global warming is Bush’s fault and global warming caused Katrina.

First, of course, hurricanes in the US have not in fact been increasing in number or intensity since the supposed onslaught of global warming. As this schedule from the national weather service ( shows, both the number and intensity have actually decreased in recent decades, and were generally much more severe in the first half of the century.

More to this point, however, let’s accept the global warming alarmists on their own terms, and assume global warming caused Katrina without inquiring too closely into what caused all those other hurricanes. Had Al Gore been elected President in 2000, and the day after his inauguration managed to get the US Senate (who had rejected the Kyoto Protocol 95-0 during the Clinton administration) to ratify and then fully implement its provisions in the US immediately, and had every other major country in the world also done so, the projected decrease in global warming after 20 years was projected, by its own proponents, to be only 0.7 degrees centigrade. In the first few years, that is, by now, even if it had been implemented in 2000, the supposed decrease would be essentially zero. So there is simply no conceivable scenario in which Bush’s policies could possibly have had an impact on hurricanes. These claims, retailed widely in major US newspapers and by German and other European politicians, are nothing but despicable political posturing.

CLAIM: The Iraq war has dangeroulsy depleted our National Guard Resources,and that's why help took so long to arrive.

Facts can be your friend. There are roughly 1,000,000 army personnel in the US, including active duty, National Guard and reserves. A bit over 100,000 or 10% are in Iraq (the rest of the forces over there are from the other branches of service). The Pentagon has agreed with the states that it will not mobilize more than 50% of the National Guard from any state, and only about a third of Louisiana’s National Guard is on active duty. The National Guard units that have been mobilized for active duty in Iraq are for the most part heavily armored combat units, not the more lightly armed military police and search and rescue units that are the primary source for domestic disaster support.

You might never know this if you watched network news, but the Commander-in-Chief of each state’s National Guard is the governor of the state, not the President, unless and until the National Guard units are called by the Department of Defense to active duty. It is also worth noting that it is against federal law, the long-standing Posse Comitatus law, for active duty troops to be used for law enforcement—the only National Guard troops that can be used this way are those commanded by state governors. There has been some talk since 9/11 of repealing or amending the Posse Comitatus law, but the changes were strongly opposed by groups from both the left and right.

Would it also be crass to point out the undeniable fact that by Sunday, September 04, 2005, the massive presence of National Guard units arriving from all over the US clearly shows that there are plenty of domestic units still available domestically? The Pentagon says there will be 30,000 guardsmen deployed, fully equipped, by Monday, September 5, only one week after the hurricane hit. These troops didn’t come back from Iraq. QED, the war in Iraq didn’t deplete our NG reserves. There are serious questions about why units of the Louisiana National Guard weren’t in downtown New Orleans a lot earlier, but any claim that the troops weren’t there because they were in Iraq is demonstrably false, as can be seen by turning on any news channel and watching the troops in action.

Finally, I will note that National Guard regulations provide for 72 hours notice for reporting to allow the troops to get their personal affairs in order before showing up. Many respond faster, but planning for use of the National Guard has to allow for the full 72 hours to begin deployment. After that, they can’t magically teletransport to where they are needed. Moving major military units with all their equipment, supplies and material is a not inconsiderable operation. It takes a bit longer than landing a five-person TV crew, who can then stand there and shout about why the troops haven’t arrived.

CLAIM: Bush cut funding for Army Core of Engineers and that’s why the levee’s failed.

Dozens of Democrats and media types have made this claim. A Washington Post’s headline today reads “Critics Say Bush Undercut New Orleans Flood Control.” Read a bit further, however, and you note that even these Democratic critics all admit that even at the highest level of funding, NONE of these projects would have been completed in time to have helped. And none of them would have upgraded the levees to withstand a Cat 4-5 hurricane. As one commentator put it, a more accurate headline would have been “No Government Plan Would Have Prevented Flood, Democrats Still Blame Bush.” In other words, this is another flat out lie, given widespread distribution by the media.

It is also perhaps inconvenient to point out that major flood control projects that could have been completed by now were in fact cut—by the Clinton administration. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1995 (isn’t the Internet fun?): “The Clinton administration is holding back a Corps of Engineers report recommending that the $120 million project proceed. …Without the improvements - a flood gate in the Harvey Canal and raised levees along the Intracoastal Waterway - a tidal surge produced by a hurricane ‘could result in the catastrophic loss of life and property damage,’ corps officials reported.” Not that the Bush administration stepped in to do more since, but given the time these projects take – one item of ACOE funding that the Bush Administration cut was for a study about upgrading the levees, and the study wouldn’t have been completed until, I believe, 2008. (As a side note, the Internet also lets us discover that the New York Times, now on its Olympian high horse condemning the irresponsibility of the Bush administration’s funding cuts for the ACOE, in fact, last April bitterly condemned the very same legislation as an expensive boondoggle. The paper thundered that “the bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects — this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs.” Ah well, no one ever expects to hold them accountable for anything.)

The city of New Orleans over the years has managed to find hundreds of millions of dollars for other projects, from building the convention center and a variety of other typical municipal pork projects, millions of which seem to have disappeared into the maw of perhaps the most corrupt local government in the country, but they found nothing to fund their own flood control. Couldn’t pass a bond measure to upgrade their decrepit sewers and pumping system, though.


We have now established that despite all the histrionics and feverish rhetoric, nothing Bush did before the hurricane caused the hurricane itself, depleted the National Guard or contributed to the failure of the levees. So let’s go back to the days before Katrina struck. Better yet, let’s start with an overview of the responsibilities of the numerous entities involved in hurricane and disaster relief.

The City of New Orleans.

One might think that most reasonably well-informed and rational people would understand that the primary and initial first response to any disaster is the local government. This fact has apparently escaped most of the media, but let’s see what the city of New Orleans’ own disaster plan says. (The whole thing is, remarkably, still available on line at I suppose it would have been too much to expect anyone at any of the major news outlets to have bothered to read this.)

One of the major criticisms repeated constantly over the last few days is that no one seemed to be in charge, a fact that was visibly apparent to anyone watching. Who was supposed to be in charge? According to the city’s own plan: “The lead agency responsible for coordinating recovery operations following a natural or man made disaster is the Office of Emergency Preparedness. The Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness shall serve as the initial contact with the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness for the coordination of recovery efforts.” You may have seen the New Orleans director on television complaining that no one was in charge, but you might not have noticed him doing anything else. Perhaps he didn’t read the city plan either. That Director is, I believe, now styled the local Homeland Security Director; in any case, his name is Terry Ebbert. We heard a lot from him last week pointing the finger at everyone else, especially Bush, but next to nothing of what he, the actual designated front line official in charge, managed to accomplish, if anything. We have a few choice quotes from him below.

The plan is also very specific about who is in charge and who is supposed to do what. “The person responsible for recognition of hurricane related preparation needs and for the issuance of an evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans.” The Mayor is charged to: “[i]nitiate the evacuation” and “[r]etain overall control of all evacuation procedures via EOC operations.” The Office of Emergency Preparedness, led by the above Director and reporting to the Mayor, is charged with the various details including the responsibility to:
• Activate EOC and notify all support agencies to this plan
• Coordinate with State OEP on elements of evacuation.
• Assist in directing the transportation of evacuees to staging areas.
• Assist ESF-8, Health and Medical, in the evacuation of persons with special needs, nursing home, and hospital patients in accordance with established procedures.
• Coordinate the release of all public information through ESF-14, Public Information.
• Use EAS, television, cable and other public broadcast means as needed and in accordance with established procedure.
Request additional law enforcement/traffic control (State Police, La. National Guard) from State OEP
• As established by the City of New Orleans Charter, the government has jurisdiction and responsibility in disaster response. City government shall coordinate its efforts through the Office of Emergency Preparedness

Another fun fact is that: … “the City of New Orleans has established a maximum acceptable hurricane evacuation time standard for a Category 3 storm event of 72 hours. This is based on clearance time and is the time required to clear all vehicles evacuating in response to a hurricane situation from area roadways.

So, we know now that the designated leader for the recovery effort was a local official reporting the Mayor. It should go without saying, or needing to be said, but since the media in fact seems to go without saying it, I will point out that the first-responder units are the local police and fire departments. You may have noted the absence of the President of the United States from the above list.

It is also worth noting that Louisiana has its own disaster plan. It states that the “primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles (emphasis added) and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.” The need to use school and municipal buses is interesting in light of this now well-known photograph showing the status of the buses the City government in fact had available to it.

The City plan is also very clear about the responsibility of the local transit authorities, who report to the Mayor. The regional transit authority is directed to:
• Supply transportation as needed in accordance with the current Standard Operating Procedures.
• Place special vehicles on alert to be utilized if needed.
• Position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses.
• If warranted by scope of evacuation, implement additional service

The State of Louisiana.

As you know now, but may not have before if you relied on, say CNN for your news, the Commander-in-Chief of the Lousiana National Guard is Governor Blanco. You also now know that the President can not use active duty troops, regardless of whether they are regular army or mobilized NG units, for law enforcement. Given the state of our country’s education system, it is not surprising that neither the average citizen nor the average broadcast journalist know the first thing about the relative roles of states and the federal government in our federal system, but the 50 states are in fact still sovereign entities, and the Federal government cannot simply step in and take over.

Overall, the State of Lousiana is the second-responder, especially regarding deployment of the National Guard.


FEMA is, if you will, the third responder, intended to support and assist, not supplant, the state and local authorities. It has relief supplies cached around the country. Its purpose is to provide assistance and support to state and local governments upon their request. FEMA cannot and is generally not expected to be able to respond immediately. Although supplies and equipment are stored all over the country, FEMA takes some time to deploy its resources hours. FEMA also has to depend on local coordination and control to know where to send supplies and direct other aid. In previous hurricanes, the major relief efforts generally started flowing 3-5 days after the initial disaster.

US Military.

The US military, especially the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines can provide immediate support, in large part because they work in the air and water, rather than on the ground, unlike the US Army. We of course saw all three service branches in action 24 hours a day almost as soon as the hurricane passed by and air rescue could begin.

In short, in the days leading up to and immediately after a disaster, the person in charge was the Mayor, and the agencies reporting to him had first-responder responsibility, including the fire and police departments, the office of emergency preparation and the regional transit authorities. If the police are overwhelmed, the second line of defense is the state National Guard. The first responders have to hold the line until FEMA can bring in disaster relief supplies. The US Military will provide search and rescue support and security; law enforcement and maintenance of order has to remain a state and local responsibility.


By Friday, August 26th, Katrina began picking up strength and heading for the gulf coast. By Saturday morning, Katrina was blowing at 115 mph and headed towards New Orleans. Governor Blanco got off to the right start by declaring a state of emergency and requesting the same from Bush. The term “state of emergency,” by the way, is not merely descriptive, but a legal term that grants the Governor extensive authority.

At Blanco’s request, Bush promptly stepped in. He declared a state of emergency in advance of the actual disaster, which gave FEMA the authority to begin moving and storing supplies. Ironically, when Bush did the same thing last year in advance of hurricane Ivan hitting Florida, he was naturally accused by Democrats and the media of grandstanding and attempting to pander to Florida voters. Thankfully, he ignored the carping then and again this time.

Later on Saturday, Nagin and Blanco held a news conference to urge residents to take the storm seriously, but stopped short of ordering a mandatory evacuation. Nagin also announced that the Superdome would be a shelter of last resort, but thoughtfully noted that residents needed to bring their own food and water. The city, of course, had not arranged for supplies. He did, finally, order a “voluntary” evacuation at 5PM. At this point, it was roughly 30 hours until the expected landfall-when the city’s own plan called for 72 hours notice for a mandatory evacuation. According to the Times-Picayune and other published accounts, Nagin claimed, incredibly, that he hesitated because he was concerned about the city’s legal liability to the hotels if he ordered a mandatory evacuation. It strains credulity beyond the breaking point to believe that this issue had never occurred to anyone in New Orleans before and that no one had ever considered the legal ramifications of issuing a evacuation order. Whether they had or not, as a lawyer myself, I can hardly conceive of such liability when faced with a Category 4 or 5 hurricane poised for a direct hit on a city that knew it couldn’t take the blow. Even giving Nagin the benefit of the doubt and granting that he and his legal teams were in fact the complete idiots they seemed to be claiming they were, it still means he put those concerns ahead of the lives of his constituents. Far more probable, however, is that in the cesspool of corruption that is New Orleans, Nagin simply didn’t want to risk offending powerful local business interests. Apart from the evacuation, there were many other critical preparatory steps that needed to be taken, but there is no evidence that the Mayor Nagin had done anything else. He obviously did nothing to stock the Superdome, mobilize the available transit resources or request National Guard assistance.

Apparently, Governor Blanco too did nothing to call up and mobilize any more than a few National Guard troops or otherwise exercise the powers and responsibilities she had assume by declaring a state of emergency. If, as many rightly claim, the post-hurricane breakdown in public order could and should have been foreseen, it might have been wise to begin the call for full mobilization on Saturday. This was not a federal decision or responsibility, but lay squarely on the shoulders of Blanco and Nagin. They failed.

Staying on top of the situation, Bush, however, noted that Nagin still had not ordered a mandatory evacuation and even took the extraordinary step of placing a personal call to the Mayor to urge him to do so. Another federal official, the National Hurricane Center Director, also called Nagin at his home Saturday night to plead with him to “get people out of New Orleans.” This is not normal procedure, the locals are supposed to have the brains to figure this out for themselves. Not in this case, apparently.

Finally, on Sunday morning, with Katrina now a category 5 hurricane and heading straight for the city, barely 24 hours before landfall and far past the 72 hours timeframe required by the city’s own plan, Nagin finally issues the order, far too late by any standard. A few RTA buses were sent out to pick up people to take them to local shelters, but, as the heart-breaking picture of flooded buses shows, most of the available buses just sat there, and none were used for the evacuation. The plans, noted above, to mobilize the local buses and the regional transit authority for evacuation simply didn’t happen.

Nagin had declared that the Superdome was to be opened as a shelter of last resort, but little or no effort had been made by anyone to stock it with food, water or medical supplies, or to provide security or medical care. As residents began flowing in, they now heard from Terry Ebbert, the local official supposed to be in charge. He sends all the people with medical problems to one side of the Superdome, everyone else to the other side, and announces to the latter that “those arriving on this side… are expected to fend for themselves.” Nice.

As was expected, the wealthy and middle class whites mostly managed to get out. The poor, largely black population was left behind.

Thanks to Bush’s advance declaration, the Coast Guard moved into place closing the port and positioning 40 aircraft and 30 boats in position.

The Louisiana National Guard, although hardly fully mobilized, managed to deliver water and food in an amount intended to supply enough MREs to, in theory, for 15,000 people for 3 days. There are, however 26,000 people already there, as best as anyone can tell. The Louisiana senators sent a joint letter to the President thanking him for his help so far.

Abandoning the poor black population to their fate, the Mayor decamped to Baton Rouge.

President Bush had done what he was supposed to do, all in fact he could do. The mayor, however, was criminally negligent in having completely failed to fulfill their responsibilities to prepare for the disaster that was bearing down on them—or, rather, on the people the Mayor left behind.


Prior to landfall, the head of the Louisiana National Guard said troops were deployed and ready to move into the city using high water vehicles. Four thousand more guardsmen were supposedly mobilizing in Memphis.
FEMA Director Michael Brown reported that he had medical teams, rescue squads and supplies in place outside the city. Everyone at the local, state and federal level seemed to think the situation was reasonably under control despite the obvious fact that tens of thousands of residents hadn’t evacuated. Those who had neither evacuated nor moved to the Superdome were simply waiting it out, out of sight and, it seems, out of mind. Some were apparently just waiting for the extra-curricula acquisition opportunities they expected to arise.

At 8:00AM Monday morning, Katrina struck.

Initially, however, it appeared that New Orleans had somehow, miraculously, yet again dodged the bullet squarely aimed at its low-lying head, protected by Category 3 levees against a Category 4 hurricane. Then, the brief sense of relief evaporated as the levee broke at 17th street and the city began filling up like a punchbowl.

Almost immediately, Bush declared the states of Louisiana and Mississippi major disaster areas, another legal description that authorized even more major relief efforts and funding. At the same time, widespread looting began to break out. The ever delightful Director Ebbert declared that “everyone who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to.” Well, too bad for them, apparently. There were quite few locals to whom this news might come as a surprise, assuming they survived.
By the end of the day, air rescue operations by the Coast guard and Marine units were in full swing. The Red Cross said it is had a thousand volunteers in place, and many more coming in. Mayor Nagin said he has talked to FEMA and was told to give them a list of their needs and he would get what was needed. Details of subsequent conversations between Nagin and Brown on these points have not yet been revealed, but will surely prove interesting if they come out.


By the end of the day Monday, both officials and the public were just beginning to get an idea of how extensive and widespread the destruction really was. We all have since all seen the scope of the disaster, although television cameras can not possibly convey the sheer extent of the devastation. Slowly, the scope of the disaster was beginning to unfold; an area nearly the size of the British Isles was devastated. Cities and communities across three states simply ceased to exist. Roads, communications, power were wiped out. All levels of government were overwhelmed by a level of disaster never seen before in American history. Within hours, the recovery efforts began to break down, and the blame game began in deadly earnest.

By Tuesday morning, the waters were rising all over the city, and officials seemed helpless to stop it. Later that week, Bush was to be lambasted in the media for stating that such a large breach was not contemplated in the disaster planning. Of course, the talking heads said, everyone had known about this possibility for years, his dumb statement just proved yet again how much of an idiot Bush is. He was in fact correct and was clearly repeating the precise information he had been given. The most recent, and publicly available, plan contemplated that the levees would overflow in a category 4 or 5 storm, but not that they would themselves collapse, and that two city blocks of levee would simply disappear into the maelstrom. The section that collapsed had also been recently repaired and upgraded, so the various claims that somehow the breach was attributable to Bush’s “reduced” funding (that is, less than the maximum local officials might have ever requested) are, again, simply false. But this fact does explain why there weren’t contingency plans for conducting a massive levee repair operation immediately after the breach open. And even if there had been, with the roads nearly impassible and destruction spreading for miles, there was no way to bring in heavy equipment, and not much that could be done anyway until the rushing water subsided.

A Pentagon spokesperson issued a statement that the affected states had plenty of National Guard capacity, with 6,500 troops available in Louisiana alone, that the National Guard units of the four victim states were providing support to civil authorities as well as generator, medical and shelter, with approximately 7,500 troops on State Active Duty. That means that they were called up by the state governors for domestic deployment, not by the Pentagon. It also noted that the National Guard was augmenting civilian law enforcement capacity; not acting in lieu of it. Note, Bush-bashers, the phrase “State Active Duty.” These troops were not under federal command.

The question we all want answered is: “where were these troops and what were they doing?”. They were not, in any case, in downtown New Orleans. Everyone wants to know why, but remember who their Commander-in-chief was and still is. Hint: it’s not a Texan.

By the end of the day Tuesday, the federal response included the following:
• FEMA had deployed 23 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from all across the U.S. to staging areas in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana and was then moving them into impacted areas.
• Seven Urban Search and Rescue task forces and two Incident Support Teams had been deployed and positioned in Shreveport, La., and Jackson, Miss., including teams from Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Three more Urban Search and Rescue teams were in the process of deployment.
• FEMA had begun moving supplies and equipment into the hardest hit areas including water, ice, meals, medical supplies, generators, tents, and tarps.
• The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) had dispatched more than 390 trucks that were beginning to deliver millions of meals ready to eat, millions of liters of water, tarps, millions of pounds of ice, mobile homes, generators, containers of disaster supplies, and forklifts to flood damaged areas. DOT had helicopters and a plane assisting delivery of essential supplies.
These supplies, however, do not yet seem to be reaching the Superdome, and it is not at all clear why. The idea that Bush was somehow deliberately starving poor black people because they voted Democratic is despicable, and there isn’t the remotest hint or a shred of evidence to support the claim. The theory therefore immediately becomes the accepted explanation among the left, black activists and race-hustlers and elite Europeans.
Now, where exactly is Bush at fault in this so far? He had done everything he was supposed to do, authorized everything necessary to support Federal support, and, despite being on what passes for a vacation for a President, was in regular contact with the governors of the affected states. Without a doubt, Bush was too slow to make a more public response, and the criticism he received from all sides about his poor public relations efforts were well-deserved. He should never have gone to a political event in California on Tuesday. But it is a huge and utterly unfounded step to go from his failure to cancel a public appearance and make more public statements to blaming him directly for the consequences on the ground.

First and foremost, the blame has to start with Mayor Nagin, who failed to take even the most basic steps before the storm hit. Apart from the looting, this collapse greatly hindered the ability of the rescue teams, and a lot of the deaths will surely be directly attributable to this. The New Orleans police department is famously corrupt, underfunded and understaffed. To meet intense pressure for more minorities on the force in a city nearly 70% black, the force had even taken on convicted criminals, which may explain some apparent instances of looting by the police themselves. Many officers simply fled. Those who stayed complained of a complete lack of direction or leadership. They had no communications, no plans, no direction and no support. Some National Guard officers have already said that their deployment plans did not contemplate the almost immediate and total collapse of local police control, which is at least one plausible explanation for why they weren’t there quickly.

It remains to be seen who is primarily responsible for the initial collapse of any police authority in the city, but the one party who cannot be held responsible is President Bush. Where was the Mayor? The Police Chief? And, then, after things started to south in abig way, where was the Louisiana National Guard? And then where was the Louisiana National Guard. Even if they didn’t originally plan for the police collapse, once it occurred, why didn’t rather quickly move to plan B? Who was making the deployment decisions? Hint: it still wasn’t Bush.

The fire department was not much better than the police. Turns out the entire department had only 3 boats, and 2 of them were inoperable. This, for a city where flooding has been a known risk for centuries. It gets worse. As of Friday [September 3rd], nine stockpiles of fire-and-rescue equipment strategically placed around the country to be used in the event of a catastrophe were still sitting unused. According to CNN: “Department of Homeland Security spokesman Marc Short said Friday the gear has not been moved because none of the governors in the hurricane-ravaged area has requested it. A federal official said the department's Office for Domestic Preparedness reminded the Louisiana and Mississippi governors' offices about the stockpiles on Wednesday and Thursday, but neither governor had requested it.” This is Bush’s fault somehow, I suppose, but I can’t see it. Then again, the receptors in my dental fillings have been out since the last full moon. I’m sure Bush’s racism fits is somehow involved.
So now where were we? Efforts to repair the levee had failed. The real problem, however, occurred when the last pumps keeping water out of the city are submerged by rising water and fail. As a result, the waters began to rise much more quickly and soon 80% of the city was under water.

It is only speculation, but it seems likely that this took most of the residents still there by complete surprise. They had survived the hurricane, the sun was out, and things were looking up. They had no power or access to information. They must have expected that everything was about to get a lot better, and thus were completely blindsided by the flooding. I suspect many didn’t have a chance. A horrible tragedy, but one that only adequate evacuation plan could have prevented in the circumstances. The city had one, and it could have saved countless lives. It wasn’t implemented. Criminal negligence by someone, but Bush’s fault? How?

By the end of the day Tuesday, as both the staggering extent of the disaster and the completely inadequate response to it was becoming apparent, Bush announced that he was ending his vacation early and headed back to Washington. Starting Tuesday afternoon, a human flood of shell-shocked residents began heading towards the Superdome to escape the rising waters.

By Wednesday morning, the full scope of the disaster began to unfold in front of TV sets around the world, revealing a city collapsing into anarchy and chaos. At this point, Governor Blanco seemed herself shell-shocked. Later on Wednesday, for the first time she finally requested assistance from other states National Guard under a mutli-state support agreement. She does manage, however, to break down and cry on television, and blame Bush and the federal government. She orders the evacuation of the Superdome, but has no idea how to do it, or at least doesn’t manage to communicate any plan to anyone.
In the city itself, abandoned to the gangs and criminals, Police and fireman were not only not stopping the looting, but many were engaged in it themselves; we saw the uplifting site of a New Orleans policeman wheeling a computer and a TV out of a store in a cart. But also within hours, the blame-it-all-on-Bush meme began.

In the meantime, Texas, led by an functioning and competent Governor, announced it would provide for the evacuees from the Superdome in the Astrodome in Houston. Texas managed to get the Astrodome set up with food, cots, medial supplies and staff, and, blessedly, lot of toilets, in less time that the Mayor of New Orleans had to (not) prepare the Superdome before the hurricane. With most of the local New Orleans buses underwater, thanks to Mayor Nagin, FEMA arranged for 475 buses, but they took some time to assemble and arrive. Governor Blanco did finally exercise a bit of her executive authority and order the Louisiana National guard to commandeer whatever functioning school buses they could still locate.

Just after midnight Wednesday, the first buses began arriving in Houston. Supplies and volunteers are flooding the Astrodome. (Thank God, because I can’t take anymore of Geraldo’s hysterics.) Bush and his convoy arrive on the scene on Thursday. US military units are arriving in force, as are National Guard units from other states. The adults are in charge of the asylum, and things are getting a lot better quickly. By the end of the day Thursday, all but a couple of thousand evacuees were gone from the Superdome.

Meanwhile the despicable white, racist, bigot, rednecks of the Christian Right in Texas are volunteering at the Astrodome, to the extent that they have to be turned away. Food and donations are pouring in. Church groups are particularly active in all phases. Within a couple of days, Texas would be providing for over 200,000 evacuees.
Yet the political wrangling continued. Despite the blame heaped on Bush and her shrill requests for more federal help, on Friday Governor Blanco still refused to federalize the the recovery operation. But the early days of hell were clearly coming to an end. The finger-pointing and the hate-filled, venomous attacks on Bush, however, were just getting into high gear.


It would be nice to think that is this hour of crisis that as a nation we would postpone the blame game, at least until things calmed down. Presdent Bush and his team have followed this high road. Chertoff when confronted with a nearly insane Tim Russert screaming for his head, barely hinted that perhaps some of the problem might have been due to a wee breakdown at the local level before the feds could get in. On the other side, however, the road led straight to the gutter and has stayed firmly mired there from the start. No accusation has been too vile, no theory too slanderous to get national news coverage.

We have already seen that, at least through Tuesday, there is nothing whatsoever that can be reasonably be laid at the Presidents’s feet. But after that, things did in fact go really wrong, and it is fair to ask what and why.

There were two separate, major failures. First, adequate supplies of food, water, medical supplies and police security did not show up at the Superdome and, perhaps more important to the blame game, on the Highway overpass where most of the TV reporters were. It is false to claim, as many reporters did, that no food or water arrived, and, as noted above, there were MREs and water inside the Superdome, but it was obvious to everyone that nowhere near enough arrived prior to the evacuation.

The nation and the world were treated to the heartbreaking and deeply embarrassing display of thousands of poor, mostly black Americans lined up on a highway overpass without food or shelter. The TV coverage was hysterical and overblown, and despite claims that the people there had been there without food and water for many days (on Thursday, I heard 5 or 6 days from Geraldo), most of the folks on the highway arrived Tuesday, after the rising water forced those who had chosen not to go the Superdome out of their homes. Most were forced to spend 2-3 days on the overpass. Those who arrived in the Superdome on Sunday, the first day it was opened, and left Thursday, spent 4 nights in the Superdome with at least limited shelter and some food in the first couple of days. It must have been horrible, but not quite as horrible as the splenetic coverage tried to make it out. And, of course, the vast majority of them should have never been there in the first place, they should have been evacuated before the storm.

The other major complaint voiced on the news broadcasts was the lack of information—no one apparently bothered to tell the poor, suffering victims what was going to happen to them. I am not sure why the Mayor wasn’t out there, or the execrable Mr. Ebbert, but I am also not sure why communication to his constituents should be the responsibility of the federal government, still less so that of the President.

Nonetheless, someone needs to answer for not getting those folks help sooner. Neither I nor anyone else knows at this point exactly what happened. It may well be that FEMA was charged with the primary responsibility and failed to do so. Again, it is hard to fault Bush directly for that. He issued the appropriate orders well in advance to authorize and instruct FEMA to begin.

The one legitimate source of blame for Bush will come if it turns out that FEMA’s focus on preparing for possible terrorist disaster scenarios significantly reduced its ability to respond to natural disasters, and that that reduction was what caused the delay. If so, then Bush bears some responsibility. But then, so does the Congress that wrote and passed the legislation creating Homeland Security and placing FEMA under its jurisdiction, along with the bipartisan committee that proposed and recommended the wholesale reorganization. But it seems much more likely at this point that the real problem was that the Mayor and the entire local government simply collapsed and utterly failed to perform its most basic duties, and the Governor failed to step in.

I note that the relevant date for the start of the real disaster in New Orleans was when the pumps failed and the majority of the city began flooding. This really started on Tuesday. The hurricane on Monday largely spared the city, but the media nonetheless clocks the failure from landfall Monday morning, rather than from the widespread flooding a day later, in order to make Bush and FEMA look worse. But the truth is that, prior to the flooding, the major disaster areas were further east and mostly in the other states. Absent the levee breach, by Tuesday afternoon, not only would the desperate local residents not have been streaming en masse onto the highway overpasses, but those holed up in the Superdome would have begun heading home—the hurricane itself did not cause widespread property damage, and most of their homes would have still been as there, perhaps a bit battered, but mostly standing and as habitable as they had been before they left (which was not very for a lot of them, but that is another story). With the staggering scope of the calamity, it would have certainly made sense for FEMA to initially concentrate on getting supplies to the other, harder hit areas, rather than plan for a major airlift operation into New Orleans, an operation it couldn’t have known would be needed until early Tuesday. We need answers, but putting all the blame on Bush even before we get the basic details about what went wrong is absurd.

The second major failure was the effective loss to the thugs, gangs and looters of what little of New Orleans remained more or less habitable after the flood. The National Guard needed to be brought in much sooner than it actually arrived. The Louisiana National Guard was and remains under the command of Governor Blanco. We know that it had 6,500 troops available for state active duty, and that the claims that Iraq deployments fatally weakened troop levels completely false. We have already seen that she failed to anticipate any of these problems and fully mobilize the guard in advance. But once she did, what happened to them? Where were they in those early days? We have heard that no one expected the police to lose complete control of New Orleans, and it possible that the Guard was initially deployed to what everyone thought were the harder hits areas to the east. Louisiana also undoubtedly expected to call on guard troops from neighboring states if it needed more troops than it could provide for itself, but of course those in Mississippi and Alabama were otherwise engaged. No one at any level seems to have contemplated a disaster so braodn that it required National Guard deployments to 4 states. But it also doesn’t appear that Governor Blanco requested units from other states not hit until Wednesday. In the meantime, New Orleans descended into anarchy and destruction, rescuers were shot at, hospitals put under siege. Remember, law enforcement is by law the responsibility of state and local government. Both the mayor and the Governor have a lot to answer for.

To be fair, it is still far from clear that Bush and the federal government are blameless for the breakdown in law and order. We don’t know if the Department of Defense failed in some way. There is no evidence so far that they did, and despite the keening from the left, the mere absence of the National Guard on the ground in New Orleans did not establish that it was somehow the federal government’s fault in general, much less Bush’s personal fault. No matter. The near hysterical chorus is screaming for Bush’s blood over this before anyone really knows what happened, while at the same time almost completely ignoring the parties whose responsibility was clear and whose near total failure is undeniable.

There will undoubtedly be congressional hearings and more thorough investigations by journalists beyond the shrill, ignorant rantings that pass for news reports. Like everything else in this country today, it will continue to be biased, partisan and politicized. But I strongly suggest that the state and local officials so frantically trying to blame Bush for their failings have a lot more to fear from a full expose of the facts than does the President.

After 9/11, Rudy Giuliani established a standard for conduct in the face of disaster and adversity. Jeb Bush led Florida superbly through 4 hurricanes in row last year. Despite the fact that Mayor Nagins is suddenly the darling of the left because he has viciously attacked their arch nemesis, can anyone possibly believe that the actions, or, mostly inaction, of Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco even began to live up to the standard set by Rudy? I don’t think so, and no matter how much the left may hate Bush, they know it too.

Greg Richey
September 4, 2005

652 posted on 09/05/2005 2:27:04 AM EDT by comitatus

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Louisiana
KEYWORDS: katrina; mdm; neworleans
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1 posted on 09/05/2005 6:10:08 AM PDT by backhoe
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To: comitatus

One more time - great job!

2 posted on 09/05/2005 6:12:58 AM PDT by NautiNurse (The task before us is enormous, but so is the heart of America.)
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To: backhoe


3 posted on 09/05/2005 6:14:13 AM PDT by tentmaker
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To: NautiNurse; tentmaker

Appreciate it!

4 posted on 09/05/2005 6:14:52 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trakball into the Dawn of Information...)
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To: backhoe

I'm printing this and posting copies in my liberal office tomorrow!

5 posted on 09/05/2005 6:15:33 AM PDT by NewCenturions
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To: backhoe

Great job, but one small thing: It's "Corps of Engineers".

6 posted on 09/05/2005 6:15:45 AM PDT by OKSooner
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To: backhoe
Good article.

Recommended Crosslink for this article: Bob Parks: The Response to Looters

FREEPLINK: The Response To "Looters"

7 posted on 09/05/2005 6:16:29 AM PDT by Alia
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To: backhoe

Thanks a lot!

8 posted on 09/05/2005 6:17:39 AM PDT by nuconvert (No More Axis of Evil by Christmas ! TLR) [there's a lot of bad people in the pistachio business])
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To: backhoe
Bump for later read.

Read the first few paragraphs. You need to run for office. We need people like you.

9 posted on 09/05/2005 6:18:16 AM PDT by benjaminjjones
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To: backhoe

Bookmarked and printed. Nicely done

10 posted on 09/05/2005 6:18:25 AM PDT by Wormwood (Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!)
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To: Wormwood; NewCenturions; OKSooner; Alia; nuconvert; benjaminjjones

Thanks, all, for stopping by.

11 posted on 09/05/2005 6:19:56 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trakball into the Dawn of Information...)
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To: backhoe

Well done but, who wants rational thought when you can have hysterics. That always sells better. Wait 'til this is over and sanity gets its head. The dems will have a lot of words to eat.

12 posted on 09/05/2005 6:19:56 AM PDT by Adrastus (If you don't like my attitude, talk to some one else.)
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To: backhoe

"I note that the relevant date for the start of the real disaster in New Orleans was when the pumps failed and the majority of the city began flooding. This really started on Tuesday."

Yes. And this fact is a huge one the media conveniently overlooks over and over and over. Mega bump.

13 posted on 09/05/2005 6:20:36 AM PDT by gobucks (
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To: backhoe

Great post! Thanks for the tremendous amount of time it must have taken to knit all of this together. There is a lot of good work here and it is much appreciated.

14 posted on 09/05/2005 6:20:51 AM PDT by Ron/GA
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To: backhoe


15 posted on 09/05/2005 6:20:55 AM PDT by pieces of time
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To: Adrastus

This is awesome.

16 posted on 09/05/2005 6:21:08 AM PDT by nk_47
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To: backhoe

Saved and thank you for giving this the attention it deserves - its own threads.

You've done a great job, as usual, in staying on top of the most important stories and archiving articles for us.

17 posted on 09/05/2005 6:21:10 AM PDT by Peach (South Carolina is praying for our Gulf coast citizens.)
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To: backhoe

Very well thought out, backhoe. A lot of data. Well written.

18 posted on 09/05/2005 6:24:13 AM PDT by Alia
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To: NautiNurse; comitatus

I bet he's still asleep and doesn't know what's going on. He'll be famous by noon. LOL

19 posted on 09/05/2005 6:24:48 AM PDT by CedarDave (MLKing, Jr: "I have a dream!", Howard Dean: "I have a scream!", Jesse Jackson: "I have a scheme!")
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To: Peach; All

Thanks ( and to everyone else ), I do appreciate the support-- the information in this article needs dissemination far & wide.

20 posted on 09/05/2005 6:26:35 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trakball into the Dawn of Information...)
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