Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Smoking gun #348

Could this be the one that makes his base finally say "enough?"

Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina

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."

The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then- Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

--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 buy the `fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

--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. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.

Interesting questions: why did this video surface? Why now? It is (or at least in a logical universe would be) incredibly damaging to Bush. It would seem to help Michael Brown, at least to some degree.

If the video makes it to TV, the juxtaposition with Bush's lie is so easy to make, and so obvious, that even Fox may have to show it. They will then have to resort to a "he lies for our own good" defense.

Update: I just watched the video @ C&L. Wow. If the networks run it, this could be fun.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

More cynicism. The frog NEVER leaves the pot if the temperature is raised slowly and consistantly enough. But he does die anyway.

What's the worst that can happen? Double it. Quadrouple that. THEN get cynical. You might get there yet.

5:05 PM  
Blogger vermontraccoon said...

Boy, that hurricane sure HATES OUR FREEDOM.

6:23 AM  
Blogger <-<--esoder<---<----<----- said...

What kills me is the spin of "there's nothing new here. It's old news."

So people on the right ignore it. And people on the left agree - nothing new, just more facts in support of what we already new to begin with - they lied, they bungled, Bush remained on vacation and did some fundraising work while people were dying, and it's even possible that aid was intentionally witheld.

Nope, nothing new here.

2:21 PM  

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