Hurricane Katrina: Media Raises Disturbing Questions
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of important Hurricane Katrina news stories in the mainstream media which raise many disturbing questions. Links are provided to the full stories on the original media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word to our friends and colleagues, we can and will build a brighter future.
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A disturbing view from inside FEMA
September 18, 2005, CNN
As Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast three weeks ago, veteran workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency braced for an epic disaster. But their bosses, political appointees with almost no emergency management experience, didn't seem to share the sense of urgency. "We told these fellows that there was a killer hurricane heading right toward New Orleans," Leo Bosner, a 26-year FEMA employee and union leader told CNN. "We had done our job, but they didn't do theirs." Bosner's storm warning came early Saturday, three days before Hurricane Katrina came ashore.
Katrina forecasters were remarkably accurate
September 16 , 2005, NBC
For all the criticism of the Bush administration's confused response to Hurricane Katrina, at least two federal agencies got it right: the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. They forecast the path of the storm and the potential for devastation with remarkable accuracy. A day before Katrina came ashore Aug. 29, the agency warned in capital letters: "SOME LEVEES IN THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA COULD BE OVERTOPPED." National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield also gave daily pre-storm videoconference briefings to federal officials in Washington, warning them of a nightmare scenario of New Orleans' levees not holding, winds smashing windows in high-rise buildings and flooding wiping out large swaths of the Gulf Coast. As early as three days before Katrina pulverized the Gulf Coast, the hurricane center warned that New Orleans was in the Category 4 hurricane's path. Two days before the storm hit, the hurricane center predicted Katrina's strength at landfall; the agency was off the mark by only about 10 mph. Mayfield also did something he rarely does before a hurricane hits: He personally called the governors of Mississippi and Louisiana and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin two days ahead of time to warn them about the monstrous hurricane.
Money for evacuation plan went elsewhere
September 18, 2005, CNN/AP
FEMA twice failed to give Congress [a] plan to evacuate New Orleans. Eight years ago Congress ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a severe hurricane. The outcome provides one more example of the government's failure to prepare for a massive but foreseeable catastrophe. Congress in 1997...set aside $500,000 for FEMA to create "a comprehensive analysis and plan of all evacuation alternatives for the New Orleans metropolitan area." Frustrated two years later that no study had materialized, Congress strengthened its directive. This time it ordered "an evacuation plan for a Category 3 or greater storm, a levee break, flood or other natural disaster for the New Orleans area." The $500,000 that Congress appropriated for the evacuation plan went to a commission that studied future options for the 24-mile bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said.
Going (Down) by the Book
September 17, 2005, New York Times
When the Federal Emergency Management Agency's paperwork slowed the evacuation of patients from the airport, Acadian's frustrated medics waited with empty helicopters. The company sent in outside doctors and nurses to the airport, where patients were dying and medical care was in short supply. FEMA rejected the help because the doctors and nurses weren't certified members of a National Disaster Medical Team. When they tried to speed the evacuation of hundreds of patients at the New Orleans airport, the medics were no match for FEMA officials determined to get clearance from their supervisors in Baton Rouge. "At one point I had 10 helicopters on the ground waiting to go," said Marc Creswell, an Acadian medic, "but FEMA kept stonewalling us with paperwork. Meanwhile, every 30 or 40 minutes someone was dying." Mr. Creswell said he had ferried in more than a dozen doctors and nurses to help at the airport. "When the doctors asked why they couldn't help these critically ill people lying there unattended," Mr. Creswell recalled, "the FEMA people kept saying, 'You're not federalized.' "
Washington Has Beef with Europe's Katrina Aid
September 12, 2005, Spiegel (One of Germany's leading publications)
Last week, a German military cargo jet carrying 15 tons of food labored into the air bound for the United States. The goal, of course, was to feed needy victims of Hurricane Katrina. But the food supplies never made it. Refused permission to land, the plane was forced to turn around and head back to Cologne, still fully loaded. Food from other countries has likewise been banned. Why was the aid not accepted? As it turns out, the US Department of Agriculture had rejected the rations -- originally prepared for NATO troops -- out of fear they may be tainted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the agent thought to cause mad cow disease. Despite intensive efforts on the part of Germany's foreign ministry, the US government refused to give the plane flyover rights. But officers at a US base in Pensacola -- where previous German aid planes had landed -- believe there was another reason. In reality, the critics said, the Bush government was trying to avoid embarrassing images of Europeans making food relief deliveries to the States. After all, the meals had already been certified by NATO as BSE-free. Additionally, the same types of meals have been used in common deployments in Afghanistan, and they've also been consumed by American troops.
British aid is held up in US fiasco
September 10, 2005, London Times
The United States held up British emergency rations worth £4 million for five days because of fears about the safety of European meat. As the refugee crisis that followed the floods in Louisiana grew during the week, more than 400,000 military ration packs sat at two airfields in America. Washington had requested them last weekend, but the meals fell foul of a United States Department of Agriculture ban on the import of certain products from the European Union. Five days after the first batches of aid arrived from Britain and after negotiations with the British Government, the agency waived the ban, paving the way for the food to be distributed to those who need it. However, British defence staff are furious that the delay prevented the rations from reaching the refugees for whom they were intended until this weekend. One member of the Ministry of Defence's Defence Logistics Organisation, which helped to organise the airlift, said: "People were working their butts off...to make this happen. This aid wasn't volunteered. The US asked for it. We moved heaven and earth to get this stuff out there."
Note: Why didn't the American press report on the above two eye-opening stories?
Cheney orders rural electric crews to work on oil pipeline from Texas
September 11, 2005, WKYC (Ohio NBC affiliate)
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast. That order...delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt. "I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating," said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association. Manager Dan Jordan said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately. Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike Callahan said the U.S. Department of Energy called him on Aug. 31. Callahan said department officials said opening the fuel line was a national priority. Cheney's office referred calls about the pipeline to the Department of Homeland Security. Calls there were referred to Kirk Whitworth, who would not take a telephone message and required questions in the form of an e-mail. Compton said workers who were trying to restore substations that power two rural hospitals...worked instead on the Colonial Pipeline project. The move caused power to be restored at least 24 hours later than planned. Callahan said energy officials told him gasoline and diesel fuel needed to flow through the pipeline to avert a national crisis from the inability to meet fuel needs in the Northeast. "Our concern was that...it would be a national crisis for Mississippi," Callahan said.
Finally fooling none of the people
September 13, 2005, Los Angeles Times
There's never a terrorist around when you need one. With a terrorist sighting, Bush likely would not have lingered on his Crawford ranch vacation. Nor would Condoleezza Rice have gone shoe shopping while the world witnessed the sorry spectacle of the Gulf Coast in deadly disarray. And surely Donald Rumsfeld, who blithely attended a San Diego Padres game as New Orleans was filling with water, wouldn't have dithered for days before sending in troops to aid desperate Americans. Even if our high officials bothered to care about the poor, mostly black victims of Katrina enough to change their schedules, the administration would probably have bungled the relief effort anyway, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now run by political hacks appointed by Bush who know zilch about disaster relief. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," the president said to Michael Brown a few days before the FEMA chief was relieved of his oversight of the relief efforts. Brown, who reportedly doctored his unimpressive resume and didn't have a background in emergency management, resigned Monday. He had secured this plum job because he was a college buddy of his predecessor, Joe Allbaugh, who managed Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.
Bush allies getting Katrina work
September 13, 2005, CNN
Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast. One is...Halliburton Co. (Research) subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton. Many of the same companies seeking contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have already received billions of dollars for work in Iraq. Halliburton alone has earned more than $9 billion. Pentagon audits released by Democrats in June showed $1.03 billion in "questioned" costs and $422 million in "unsupported" costs for Halliburton's work in Iraq. Allbaugh formally registered as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root in February. Allbaugh is also a friend of Michael Brown, director of FEMA who was removed as head of Katrina disaster relief and sent back to Washington amid allegations he had padded his resume. Halliburton continues to be a source of income for Cheney, who served as its chief executive officer from 1995 until 2000. According to tax filings released in April, Cheney's income included $194,852 in deferred pay from the company.
Third World Scenes
September 5, 2005, Washington Post
Mullen has a schoolteacher's kindly demeanor, so it was jarring to hear him say he suspected that the levee breaks had somehow been engineered to keep the wealthy French Quarter and Garden District dry at the expense of poor black neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward -- a suspicion I heard from many other black survivors. And it was surprising to hear Mullen's gentle voice turn bitter as he described the scene at the convention center, when helicopters bringing food didn't even land and the soldiers "just pushed the food out like we were in the Third World. That's what made people go off. They just pushed it at us." On the way out, I literally stumbled into the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was just finishing a visit to the airport. He looked genuinely shaken, [saying] "this looks like the hold of a slave ship."
Intricate Flood Protection Long a Focus of Dispute
September 1, 2005, New York Times
The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years. Often leading the chorus was Alfred C. Naomi, a senior project manager for the corps. Mr. Naomi grew particularly frustrated this year as the Gulf Coast braced for what forecasters said would be an intense hurricane season and a nearly simultaneous $71 million cut was announced in the New Orleans district budget to guard against such storms. ...No one expected that weak spot to be on a canal that, if anything, had received more attention and shoring up than many other spots in the region. It did not have broad berms, but it did have strong concrete walls. Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, said that was particularly surprising because the break was "along a section that was just upgraded. It did not have an earthen levee," Dr. Penland said. "It had a vertical concrete wall several feel thick."
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: This is the actual levee that runs along the canal on the eastern side of the city. You can see the massive breach here, and when you look around the corner you can see what the water did to the Lower Ninth Ward. It completely destroyed neighborhoods. JOE EDWARDS, JR., 9TH WARD RESIDENT: I heard something go "boom"!!! MUIR: Joe Edwards rushed to get himself and as many neighbors as possible into his truck. They drove to this bridge, where they've been living ever since. EDWARDS: My house broke in half. My mother's house just disintegrated. MUIR: Was it solely the water that broke the levee, or was it the force of this barge that now sits where homes once did? Joe Edwards says neither. People are so bitter, so disenfranchised in this neighborhood, they actually think the city did it, blowing up the levee to save richer neighborhoods like the French Quarter. MUIR: So you're convinced... EDWARDS: I know this happened! MUIR: They broke the levee on purpose? EDWARDS: They blew it.
Note: For more important news you may have missed on Hurricane Katrina:
For those who are ready to go even deeper, first see the long list of FEMA's serious failures reported in the mainstream media here. Next, read FEMA's own description of its founding here. Then, learn the deeper aspects of FEMA's shady beginnings at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rex_84. Finally, for Online Journal's revealing analysis article "New Orleans: Dress rehearsal for lockdown of America" see: http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/091305Baker/091305baker.html
For a little
hard-hitting humor on the CBS website:
ideas on what we can do about all this:
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Hurricane Katrina: Media Raises Distrubing Questions