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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Administration caught lying yet AGAIN

Why do they keep lying about this? It's not like the news media won't check to verify their figures because they know the government has been lying to them since the hurricane struck New Orleans.

How can anyone trust the White House ever again?

In an effort to show the world that it's finally on top of the catastrophe unleashed by Hurricane Katrina more than a week ago, the Bush administration is producing a seemingly impressive battery of statistics.

Since Friday, as criticism has mounted against the administration for its perceived failure to act sooner, officials have sought to tangibly catalog crucial results, such as "lives saved," "people assisted" and "citizens evacuated."

But a closer look at the administration's claims shows some of the most important numbers seem to contradict each other, including assertions made as recently as Tuesday afternoon about the number of people rescued from life-threatening situations.


As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said the "federal effort to save lives," a phrase it has used to begin each update released since Sunday, had so far yielded 32,000 "lives saved."

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the agency, explained that the U.S. Coast Guard, part of the Homeland Security agency, had saved 23,000 of those people on its own.

The remaining 9,000, Knocke said, were rescued by all other federal agencies involved in the effort, including federal law enforcement agencies, the National Guard and other branches of the Department of Defense.

But the Defense Department said it alone had rescued "over 13,000 people" as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, which was more than six hours before the Homeland Security Department issued its update.

Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, repeated the "over 13,000" figure at a Tuesday afternoon Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

A Department of Defense official, who agreed to speak about the issue only on condition of anonymity, said, "I don't know what the disconnect is on whose numbers are right and whose numbers are wrong." But the official also said no one could doubt the "massive" size of the rescue effort under way.

Perhaps just as elusive is how such numbers are reached by the administration in the first place.

Knocke, the homeland security spokesman, initially said a "life saved" was defined by the agency as someone who was plucked off of a rooftop in a flood-ravaged area by a helicopter or rescued by boat.

But he also said it included any "individual who is in a situation where their life could be in jeopardy if they stay in that location. ... It includes any number of things."

For three straight days, the Homeland Security Department also gave separate tallies of the number of people evacuated from flood- and hurricane-ravaged locales.

The agency said it was in the midst Saturday of "the largest emergency domestic airlift of people in U.S. history," an effort that would yield 10,000 evacuees per day.

By Sunday, the total number of those evacuated was listed by DHS as 35,000.

On Monday, however, the agency abruptly stopped listing those figures in its daily updates.

Knocke offered two explanations. First, he said the number of evacuees had likely declined since Sunday because many people had already been sent to safer ground.

But he also said the agency stopped issuing the number of those evacuated because "it's extraordinarily difficult to provide a precise number." And he said the agency only wanted to issue numbers that it could "back up" with certainty.

That didn't stop Myers, the chairman of joint chiefs, from saying at his news conference Tuesday that the military had evacuated "more than 75,000 people" so far - a huge increase from the last homeland security update of 35,000 on Sunday.

Other numbers first listed by the administration as key statistics also have disappeared from the daily reports.