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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Delay to evacuees: "This is kind of fun"

I'd be embarrassed if this guy represented my district. I'd rather he keep his mouth shut or be a hard person to find like Nancy Johnson.

From DOMEBLOG and the Houston Chronicle

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it's like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

With a group of reporters and press officers in tow, DeLay then moved on, chatting with others, including a local IRS representative. He then visited with job recruiters set up in Reliant Park.

Earlier DeLay spoke with volunteers and thanked them for their service.

"You are becoming famous all over this country and even the world," he said, adding that he's often approached by lawmakers commending Houston's response to the disaster.

And this guy is the Majority Leader?

Say it ain't so Joe? You supported Michael Brown's nomination?

I think Senator Lieberman has alot of explaining to do.

From the Hartord Courant

Michael D. Brown, relieved of his hurricane relief duties Friday, didn't get much scrutiny from the Senate at a 2002 confirmation hearing.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency appeared before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, then chaired by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., when he was nominated as the agency's deputy director. The polite 42-minute hearing attracted only four senators, and before it was over, Lieberman offered his support.

Since Katrina struck last month, Brown has been under fire - and the target of angry Democrats who want him to resign - because of his performance in getting aid to storm victims.

His resume has also been questioned. Time Magazine reported Thursday that Brown's FEMA biography says his previous emergency management experience was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight."

But when Brown was an assistant to the city manager of Edmond, Okla., in the late 1970s, he was "more like an intern," with no supervisory authority, Time said.

Brown, who is being replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, is not resigning, and administration officials maintain they are not dissatisfied with him.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters Brown "has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the federal response to this unprecedented challenge," the Associated Press reported.

But bloggers on Friday suggested that Lieberman could have learned three years ago that Brown might not be up to such a task. An online debate began late Thursday when Juliette N. Kayyem, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, posted an account of Brown's June 19, 2002, confirmation hearing.

Titled "42 Minutes of Shame," she described how "Mike Brown suffered 42 breathtaking minutes of serious nothingness (unless Lieberman's withering questioning regarding whether Brown would sufficiently keep the Senate informed - duh, yes) to become deputy director of FEMA."

The posting triggered a barrage of comments from bloggers pro and con. Lieberman said Friday in an interview that while "you can always look back," the hearing "was very much like most hearings for nominees at that level."

At the time, Brown, an Oklahoma attorney, was general counsel at FEMA. He got the same kind of quick hearing given to most people nominated to such second-tier posts. Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., introduced Brown and talked about how FEMA helped with recent wildfires in his state.

Brown, Campbell said, had been there "steadfastly and tenaciously" to help. Before Brown began speaking, Lieberman told him, "Mr. Brown, you're off to a good start. Two strong statements of endorsement."

Lieberman talked about FEMA's expanding role, how the disaster relief agency has "got to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks at home." He quizzed Brown about whether the new mission would find FEMA continuing to maintain its network of strong contacts with state and local officials.

"We've already started down that path," Brown said. "Our partnership has to be with all agencies responding to disasters, all first responders."

Lieberman told him, "That's a good answer."

He spent 8 minutes asking Brown a series of questions, including one on chemical and biological preparedness. "Regardless of the cause of the disaster," Brown assured him, "our response is the same."

Later in the hearing, Lieberman returned for a new round of questions, notably one about preparedness in Connecticut in case of a disaster at a nuclear facility.

Brown said FEMA's role was "a very serious one," and he pledged to look closely at evacuation plans to make sure they were adequate.

Such replies were adequate for Lieberman, who told Brown at the end of the hearing, "I certainly will support your nomination."

Brown became FEMA director in early 2003, and did not have another confirmation hearing. Under legislation pushed by the Bush administration, it was not needed because his new position was germane to his old one.

"I wish there had been a hearing," Lieberman said Friday, and recalled how he wanted more scrutiny of the new FEMA head before he took office.


A hearing? Why didn't you ask harder questions when you had him for 42 minutes? Didn't you go over his resume? It onloy took TIME magazine a few days to uncover Brown's lies in his resume, how did this get past you?

There will be alot of finger pointing at who dropped in this crisis and plenty of blame needs to go to Lieberman and the other sentators who supported Brown's nomination. How he could of supported a person who had no disaster experience to the head of FEMA post 9/11 is simply amazing.

Newsweek Poll: Bush approval at 38 percent

I think it's fair to say that people have lost confidence in the President

From Raw Story
President George W. Bush's approval ratings have fallen across the board in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and a seemingly flawed government response to the disaster, according to the latest Newsweek Poll. Bush's job-approval rating dropped to 38 percent, the lowest ever in the Newsweek Poll. Sixty-six percent of those polled say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time; just 28 percent are satisfied, another record low in the poll.

A 52-percent majority of Americans say they do not trust President Bush to make the right decisions during a domestic crisis, 45 percent do. The same number-52 percent-do not trust him to make the right decisions during an international crisis, again, 45 percent do. In addition, 57 percent of Americans say the slow response in New Orleans has caused them to lose confidence in the government to deal with another major natural disaster, 41 percent say it has not; 47 percent say it has made them lose confidence in government to prevent another 9/11-type attack; half (50%) say it has not, the poll shows.

The president's ratings on issues having little if anything to do with domestic disasters also declined. Bush's approval on handling terrorism and homeland security is 46 percent, a five-point drop from the August 2-4, 2005 Newsweek Poll. For the first time in the Newsweek Poll, more Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of terrorism and homeland security (48%). And almost half (49%) of all those polled say taking military action against Iraq two years ago was not the right thing to do; 46 percent say it was. This is the first time ever in the Newsweek Poll that more Americans have said going to war was not the right thing to do than said it was.


Don't say we didn't warn you. I didn't vote for him and in my opinion, you get what you voted for.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lost everything you own? Join the military!

This is just sick

From the Wall Street Journal online.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Ten U.S. Army recruiters are offering volunteer help for Katrina vicitms at Houston's Astrodome. But the recruiters, struggling to keep enlistment up during Iraq war, are also available with options for the jobless. "Our intent is to approach the evacuees at the right time for them,'' says Army spokesman Douglas Smith.
Do they have any shame?

NEWSFLASH: Michael Brown fired

Well, that only took two weeks! How many people died because of his stupidity...

From the AP
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role in managing the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and is returning to Washington.

Brown, who has been under fire for the federal government's slow response to the storm that devastated much of the Gulf Coast region, will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.

Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."

A scapegoat? His resume says it all.

UPDATE: Brown wasn't fired from his position, just relieved. He's still the head idiot in charge of FEMA as the President still has confidence in him.

Detached from reality

From USA Today
President Bush has shown that he can be empathetic, sensitive and decisive. But those qualities eluded him for days after Hurricane Katrina, and the lapse could become a defining moment of his White House tenure.

[...]

But there's another side to Bush. He can seem detached and unaware of the messages conveyed by his words and conduct. Bush decided to see Katrina's destruction for the first time from his jumbo jet and joked on his first trip to the disaster zone about youthful partying in New Orleans. He didn't cancel his vacation until two days after Katrina struck and didn't visit the region until four days after the storm. It's not the first time that side of the president has been visible. He taped a video for a 2004 black-tie dinner showing him hunting under White House furniture for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as the death toll there mounted. His visit to Ground Zero came three days after the 9/11 attacks.

Bush's critics say his response to the hurricane proves that he's not a leader. "Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday. White House spokesman Scott McClellan has dismissed criticism of the response by Bush and his administration as part of the Washington "blame game."

Blame game, I think it's calling a spade a spade. Lack of leadership is the polite thing to say when describing this President.

FEMA Michael Brown's resume full of discrepancies

Time magazine has just published an article that examine's FEMA Michael Brown's resume and came up with some surprises.

From TIME Magazine
Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern," she told TIME. "Department heads did not report to him." Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."

[...]

Brown's lack of experience in emergency management isn't the only apparent bit of padding on his resume, which raises questions about how rigorously the White House vetted him before putting him in charge of FEMA. Under the "honors and awards" section of his profile at FindLaw.com — which is information on the legal website provided by lawyers or their offices—he lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University". However, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student here," says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly named Central State University). "He may have been an adjunct instructor," says Johnson, but that title is very different from that of "professor." Carl Reherman, a former political science professor at the University through the '70s and '80s, says that Brown "was not on the faculty." As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it." Johnson could not confirm that Brown made the Dean's list or was an "Outstanding Political Science Senior," as is stated on his online profile.

[...]

Under the heading of "Professional Associations and Memberships" on FindLaw, Brown states that from 1983 to the present he has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond. But an administrator with the Home told TIME that Brown is "not a person that anyone here is familiar with." She says there was a board of directors until a couple of years ago, but she couldn't find anyone who recalled him being on it. According to FEMA's Andrews, Brown said "he's never claimed to be the director of the home. He was on the board of directors, or governors of the nursing home." However, a veteran employee at the center since 1981 says Brown "was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here."


This guy was vetted by the White House yet TIME Magazine can easily find these discrepancies? Can someone please explain to me how this guy got his job as head of FEMA?

State loses Air Base fight

I'm alittle shocked over this. I always thought the Governor had control over the Connecticut National Guard. This will probably be appealed but for now, the air base is back on the chopping block.

From the Hartford Courant
Gov. M. Jodi Rell this morning lost the latest round in the legal battle over Connecticut Air National Guard's A-10 fighter planes.

A decision today by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals means the recommendation to move the planes from their East Granby base are back in the closure list sent to President Bush late Thursday.

A Connecticut federal judge, Alfred V. Covello, had granted the state a preliminary injunction barring the Base Realignment and Closure Commission from recommending to the president that A-10 fighter planes be moved from Connecticut. U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement appealed that action to the 2nd Circuit, which issued an emergency stay of the injunction today.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who representes Rell in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the BRAC recommendation, now has the option of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the stay.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stop pumping now before it's too late

Read the article and you'll understand why...

I couldn't agree more


Thanks to dailykos for the pic

Bush's approval rating drops to an all time low

A fourty-one precent approval rating and you would even lost to Jimmy Carter in a hypothetical election?

What more can I say? I'll let the poll number speak for themselves.


The next graphic is more alarming for Bush.

In a sign of just how severe the damage to the President’s standing caused by Katrina is, the Zogby America survey finds that, despite his re-election last fall, President Bush would lose to every modern president since Jimmy Carter, the one-term Democrat who left office amid record unpopularity and a presidency rated, at the time, dismally. He would also lose to his own father, who left office amid an economic recession triggered, in part, by a devastating hurricane.

NBC Brain Williams banned from parts of New Orleans

I guess censorship is alive and well in America.

From MSNBC
While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States.

At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.
I guess we can kiss the that freedom of speech goodbye.

Cheney told to go F-himself on live TV

Whoa, those people in Mississippi are something else.

From Crooks and Liars (including video)
Vice President Dick Cheney, in Gulfport, Mississippi on a tour of the Katrina hurricane zone was cursed out as he answered questions from reporters...

Raw Story has the transcript: Off camera, a protester shouts, "Go f--k yourself, Mr. Cheney. Go f--k
yourself." The camera remains on Cheney while we hear scuffling in the background.

CNN's reporter asks Cheney, "Are you getting a lot of that Mr. Vice President?"

Cheney replies, "First time I've heard it., Must be a friend of John..., er, ah - never mind."

Cheney laughs it off, but there are many people dead that aren't laughing right now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bysiewicz will drop out of the Governor race

The contenders for the Democratic nomination for Governor just got smaller as Susan Bysiewicz will announce that she'll drop out of the race. This is probably a good move for the Secratary of State as she really wasn't collecting the type of revenue neeed to run an election nor was she gaining any media attention like the other candidates.

Her change in game plan and running for re-election as Secratary of State seems like the best thing for her and she has a solid chance in winning her post again (which will be all the more evident as we'll see the other candidates running for Secratary of State will now quickly bow out of the race).

From the Hartford Courant
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz intends to withdraw Friday from the three-way race for the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Bysiewicz, whose fund-raising has lagged in recent months, told friends and contributors Wednesday that she instead will seek re-election to a third term as secretary of the state, several Democrats said.

She declined Wednesday to discuss her decision, which some Democrats viewed as inevitable in recent weeks. "I will have something to say on Friday," Bysiewicz said.

Her departure will leave the Democratic field to two longtime mayors, John DeStefano Jr. of New Haven and Dannel P. Malloy of Stamford.

[...]

Bysiewicz's decision is likely to empty a crowded Democratic field for secretary of the state, an office that propelled Ella T. Grasso to governor and Barbara B. Kennelly to Congress.

One of the contenders for secretary, Bob Landino, said Bysiewicz informed him Wednesday morning of her decision. He said he would not challenge her.

"She is a friend and great public servant," Landino said.

Other Democratic insiders, who did not want to be quoted by name out of deference to Bysiewicz, said they were aware of Bysiewicz also telling supporters of her withdrawal.

Hurricane (and Bush administration's response) timeline

Thanks to Think Progress for providing the timeline.

This is required reading as there will be a quiz later.

Firefighters used for photo-op


This is just too much.

NEWSFLASH: First, the filming dead bodies is banned, now media is being kicked out of New Orleans

Oh my GOD! Earlier today, it was announced that the government is banning the media from showing pictures of the dead bodies in New Orleans (out of sight, out of mind) but now its being reported that the government is kicking all the media out of New Orleans altogether.

You see, without the images, the situation can be controlled (remember the prison abuse scandal in Iraq and how the military is fighting a court order to release all the prision photos).

Although the images are disturbing (including the photo featured in this post) they should be a reminder of what is really happening here and the cost of our government's failure to act.

If you control the media, you control the message and we should never allow this to happen.

Someone please get in contact with the ACLU! I'll post more on this developing story soon.

NOTE: WOW, this is getting crazy. Now someone knocked the Brigham's blog down (he's the source of the story). Here's is his post before his site was taken offline.
We are in Jefferson Parish, just outside of New Orleans. At the National Guard checkpoint, they are under orders to turn away all media. All of the reporters are turning they're TV trucks around. Things are so bad, Bush is now censoring all reporting from NOLA. The First Amendment sank with the city.

NOTE #2: Reporters and bloggers are being kicked out of parts of the AstroDome also. What the hell is going on with FEMA?

Democratic leaders critical of the President's responce to disaster

Finally, the Democrats show some backbone.
Congress' top two Democrats furiously criticized the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina on Wednesday, with Sen. Harry Reid demanding to know whether President Bush's Texas vacation impeded relief efforts and Rep. Nancy Pelosi assailing the chief executive as "oblivious, in denial" about the difficulties.

[...]

In a letter to the Senate's Homeland Security Committee chairwoman, Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, pressed for a wide-ranging investigation and answers to several questions, including: "How much time did the president spend dealing with this emerging crisis while he was on vacation? Did the fact that he was outside of Washington, D.C., have any effect on the federal government's response?"

At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had "absolutely no credentials."

She related that she urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.

"He said 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

"'I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'"

"Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added.
The American people demand answers and people need to be held accountable for their lack of leadership during this crisis. Michael Brown has no business being in charge of FEMA in the first place and people should demand that he be fired as soon as possible.

This President is so out of touch with reality that's it laughable. He should be held accountable for his lack of using common sense during this crisis (remember he cut his vacation short on Wednesday and was giving speeches and accepting a guitar from a country music singer while New Orleans was underwater on Tuesday). His inaction during this crisis probably resulted in the deaths of thousands and that should never be forgotten no matter how hard the WHite House tries to spin the story.

Where's Nancy Johnson?

Connecticut Local Politics has a rundown of what our Congressional lawmakers are saying about the hurricane and the Bush Administraion response (or lack thereof) to the crisis.

I love Genghis but I think he should of been more critical of Nancy Johnson (in fact ALOT MORE CRITICAL). Of all the lawmakers, Nancy Johnson is the only one that never seems to not say anything about anything. Whether it is privatizing social security or the hurricane crisis, Johnson always seems to be MIA and it's a simply a disgrace.

Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-5)

Johnson hasn’t done or said very much about the events of the past week. Here’s what I could find:

Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, R-5th District, was in her district, visiting the Farmington office of the American Red Cross to discuss local relief efforts. (Lightman)

…That’s it. Otherwise, she’s been doing other things.
I'd like it if Genghis would find out what "other things" she's could be possibly doing. I understand that he plays it from the center (although he's definately left of center) but lets all a spade a spade here. What is more important than this crisis? Every other Congressperson and Senator has a comment about this horrible crisis but Rep. Johnson can't be found? She can't even come out and explain how people in her district are helping in out in providing hurricane relief to the victims (e.g. where to drop off donations)?

There's no excuse for this and the people in the fifth district should demand that the person representing them show some leadership once in a while. If every other person in Congress can address the matter, why can't she? Too busy fundraising?

If anyone has seen or heard from Rep. Johnson please drop me a line or post a comment.

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.

Create a independent commission and fire Michael Brown

This is just outrageous! This is simple, I've lost all respect for this administration and the Republicans that still have the nerve to support an administration that has clearly failed it's people.

It's obvious that an independent commision needs to be established ot look into what when wrong with the government's response to the hurricane. At this point, I wouldn't trust anything that is coming out of the White House (how's that guitar Mr. President). Anyone who can say that Michael Brown is "doing a good job" simply isn't out of touch with what's really going on.

President Bush, stung by criticism of the government's ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina, announced Tuesday that he will launch an investigation into what hampered the relief effort.

[...]

But the president rejected calls from some top Democratic lawmakers that he fire Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown. At a White House meeting Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, told the president that Brown had proven "incompetent" at his job.

Pelosi's criticism came as the Associated Press reported that internal documents show Brown waited until hours after the hurricane had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region -- and then gave them two days to arrive.

A memo by Brown, although written before it was known that the levees protecting New Orleans had broken, allowing floodwaters to pour into the city, showed a lack of understanding of the potential scope of the disaster, critics said.

[...]

"Governments at all levels failed," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. "It is difficult to understand the lack of preparedness and the ineffective initial response to a disaster that had been predicted for years and for which specific, dire warnings had been given for days."

[...]

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., called for an independent commission to investigate the disaster response modeled on the panel that reviewed the government's handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The Katrina Commission would be charged with providing a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of what could and should have been done to avoid the extraordinary damage, the loss of life, the evacuation problems and the inadequate relief efforts," Clinton said.

Some lawmakers already are laying much of the blame on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and on the Department of Homeland Security, the huge newly created agency that has been given tens of billions of dollars to get the nation ready for a major crisis.

Critics have singled out Brown, the head of the emergency management agency, who was commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association before joining the agency as general counsel in 2001. Brown was sharply criticized for telling CNN Thursday night he did not know that thousands of people had no food or water at the New Orleans convention center -- even though TV images had shown their plight all day.

"If somebody is incompetent, has no credentials for the job that he holds, and that, I would say, is Michael Brown, the head of FEMA ... then he should not continue in that job," Pelosi said after her meeting at the White House.

[...]

The internal documents disclosed Tuesday showed that Brown sought approval to send employees to the Gulf Coast from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response.

Before then, the emergency agency had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

[...]

Bush, similarly, brushed aside questions from reporters earlier in the day about whether any officials in his administration would be fired for their performance.

"I think one of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game," Bush said. "There will be ample time for people to figure out what went right and what went wrong. What I'm interested in is helping save lives."

Top Republican lawmakers also appeared to steer the discussion away from blaming specific individuals for the government's sluggish initial response.

"To call for people's heads early on almost, to me, misses the root of the problem," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "It's a systemwide approach ... that we need to investigate."

Pentagon officials on Tuesday defended the military's response to the disaster. At a news conference, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers said there was no delay in sending troops, equipment and supplies.

"We were pushing support before we were formally asked for it," Myers said.

A reporter asked: Why then were people in downtown New Orleans complaining that they had no food and water for days?

"There was food or water being brought in, and maybe those quantities weren't sufficient," Myers said. He added that many helicopter crews were out searching for people stranded in their homes instead of delivering supplies. "The first priority was to save lives."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he can't understand how media crews were able to get in and out of the convention center with cameras and satellite equipment for more than a day before the National Guard troops arrived with fresh supplies for evacuees.

"They couldn't get water in, they couldn't get doctors in, they couldn't get support in," Leahy said. "Where in God's name were the people who were supposed to bring water and support? People were dying there. They were losing hope there."


Seems like the Secretary of Homeland Security doesn't read either

Does anyone in this administration really read a newspaper or watch television?

From Meet the Press

MR. RUSSERT: People were stunned by a comment the president of the United States made on Wednesday, Mr. Secretary. He said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." How could the president be so wrong, be so misinformed?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet," because if you recall the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse...

Here's the front page of major newspapers from last Tuesday...

Gilligan

Rest in peace lil' buddy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Death toll now estimated to 40,000

My God, I hope this is wrong.
A co-owner of Shelbyville-based Gowen-Smith Chapel has been deployed to Gulfport, Miss., to help with recovery since Hurricane Katrina, and his business partner here has described the grim task there.

"DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies," Dan Buckner said, quoting officials with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a volunteer arm of Homeland Security.

His partner, Dan Hicks, of Paducah, Ky., was deployed Monday. Buckner, of Dickson, is on standby. Their funeral home is one of several collection sites for donations to be taken to the Red Cross in Fayetteville on Wednesday for transfer to places in need.

The 40,000 estimate does "not include the number of disinterred remains that have been displaced from ... mausoleums," Buckner told the Times-Gazette Monday.

Since New Orleans is below sea level, in-ground burial is impossible.

[...]

"My personal opinion is they will be recovering bodies for 30 ... to 120 days," Buckner said.

Remember, the hurricane didn't kill most of the people, lack of communication and outright stupidity did.

Three students did something that FEMA couldn't do

This just goes to show you how ridiculous the situation in New Orleans has become. IF three students can go into New Orleans and save lives, why couldn't FEMA?

You'll have to excuse the long post but I want to make sure that everyone reads the enitre article so you can get an understanding on how bad the Bush Administraion is handling this crisis.

From The Hearld Sun


A trio of Duke University sophomores say they drove to New Orleans late last week, posed as journalists to slip inside the hurricane-soaked city twice, and evacuated seven people who weren't receiving help from authorities.

The group, led by South Carolina native Sonny Byrd, say they also managed to drive all the way to the New Orleans Convention Center, where they encountered scenes early Saturday evening that they say were disgraceful.

"We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai," said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla.

Buder's account -- told by cell phone Sunday evening as the trio neared Montgomery, Ala., on their way home -- chronicled a three-day odyssey that began when the students, angered by the news reports they were seeing on CNN, loaded up their car with bottled water and headed for the Gulf coast to see if they could lend a hand.

The trio say they left Durham about 6 p.m. Thursday and reached Montgomery about 12 hours later. After catching 1½ hours of sleep, they reached the coast at Mobile. From there, they traveled through the Mississippi cities of Biloxi and Gulfport.

They say they elected to keep going because it seemed like Mississippi authorities had things well in hand.

Pushing on, they passed through Slidell, La., and tried to get into New Orleans by a couple of routes. Each time, police and National Guard troops turned them away. By 2 p.m. they'd wound up in Baton Rouge.

Stopping first at a Red Cross shelter and then at offices of a Baton Rouge TV station, WAFB, they eventually made their way to the campus of Louisiana State University. By 8 p.m. Friday they were working as volunteers in an emergency assistance area set up inside LSU's indoor track arena.

The students worked until about 2 a.m. Saturday, then slept on the floor of a dorm room. When they awoke, they went back to the TV station, which was hosting what Buder termed "a distribution center" for supplies.

At 2 p.m., the trio decided to head for New Orleans, Buder said. After looking around, they swiped an Associated Press identification and one of the TV station's crew shirts, and found a Kinko's where they could make copies of the ID.

They were stopped again by authorities at the edge of New Orleans, but this time were able to make it through.

"We waved the press pass, and they looked at each other, the two guards, and waved us on in," Buder said.

Inside the city, they found a surreal environment.

"It was wild," Buder said. "It really felt like it was 'Independence Day,' the movie."

The trio dodged downed trees and power lines until they happened upon Magazine Street, which runs in a semi-circle around the city parallel to and about four blocks north of the Mississippi River.

They stopped to give water to a 15-year-old boy sitting beside the road holding a sign that said "Need Water/Food," then went to the convention center.

The evacuation was basically complete by the time they arrived, at about 6:30 or 6:45 p.m. What the trio saw there horrified them.

"The only way I can describe this, it was the epicenter," Buder said. "Inside there were National Guard running around, there was feces, people had urinated, soiled the carpet. There were dead bodies. The smell will never leave me."

Buder said the students saw four or five bodies. National Guard troopers seemed to be checking the second and third floors of the building to try to secure the site.

"Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out," Buder said. "They sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere."

By about 7 p.m., the students made their way back to the boy on Magazine Street. He directed them to some people "who really needed to get out." The resulting evacuation began at a house at the corner of Magazine and Peniston streets.

The first group included three women and a man. The students climbed into the front seats of the four-door Hyundai, and the evacuees filled the back seat. They left the city and headed back to Baton Rouge. There they deposited the man at the LSU medical center and took the women to dinner. The women later found shelter with relatives, and the students got about four hours' sleep inside the LSU chapel.

At 6:30 a.m. Sunday, they made their second run into New Orleans, returning to the house at Magazine and Peniston streets. This time they picked up three men and headed back to Baton Rouge. Two of the men were the husbands of two of the women evacuated the night before. The students reunited them with their wives and put the two families on a bus for Texas.

Buder is from Martha's Vineyard, Mass.; Byrd is from Rock Hill, S.C.; and Hankla is from Washington, D.C.

DeStefano to assist hurricane victims

I've been away for the last few days so I'm catching up on things so sorry for the delay.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano shows leadership, which is lacking in Washington, and offers to assist hurricane refugees with housing.

From the Hartford Courant
Mayor John DeStefano is offering New Haven to hundreds of refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

DeStefano announced Monday that the city will accept up to 100 households, or about 400 men, women and children, to live in New Haven. The plan is for 25 households to be brought to New Haven every two weeks, he said.

Twenty-five public housing units will initially be used, with an equal number available soon after. Appeals also will be made to landlords who have available space.
Way to go Mayor DeStefano.

Like mother, like son

And this person with first lady?

You have to listen to the audio to really appreciate the menality of this person.

Simply disgusting.

Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired thisevening on American Public Media's "Marketplace" program.

She was part of a group in Houston today at the Astrodome that included her husband and former President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,
the current president, to head fundraising efforts for the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Could you imagine what the Republicans would say if Hilliary Clinton said something like this?

Keith Olbermann rips apart FEMA and Homeland Security

Olbermann expresses the anger we are all feeling right now towards the Bush Administration
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.

Amen.

BRAC recommendations almost final

Good news for the people of Groton as it seems like the President is one step closer to finalizing the BRAC recommendations.


From the Hartford Courant
President Bush is expected to endorse most, if not all, of the base closing commission's recommendations this month, and Congress is likely to offer little resistance - but lawmakers are making it clear they want no more such panels anytime soon.

"Washington will be reluctant to put themselves through this process again," said Christopher Hellman, military analyst at Washington's Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Bush has been signaling for weeks that he is unlikely to overturn the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's recommendations, which must be presented to him Thursday .

He will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject them, or send the report back to the commission for revision. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is considering whether to ask for changes.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Senator Landrieu threatens to punch the President Sunday

Thank goodness she isn't drinking the kool-aid any longer and is defending her state from the criticism from the administration. At the beginning of this crisis, Senator Mary Landrieu defended the Bush administration for their response to the hurricane but that all changed once she went to New Orleans and saw the damage for herself.

Now she's extremely upset and let her feelings known Sunday

From Editor and Publisher

Senator Mary Landrieu, the Democrat of Louisiana (whose father was a mayor of New Orleans), appears to have finally found her voice after offering only cautious criticism of the federal relief effort in the hurriance catastrophe earlier in the week. Today she promised to literally "punch" anyone, "including the president," who contnued to question the local response to the tragedy, considering the gross federal misconduct.

Appearing on ABC's "The Week" TV program this morning, Senator Landrieu still appeared to be smarting from President Bush's comments, during his national radio address, that state and local bore a fair share of blame for the slow response. On a copter tour of the area, Landrieu said that if she heard any more criticism from federal officials, particularly about the evacuation of New Orleans, she might lose control.

"If one person criticizes them or says one more thing - including the president of the United States - he will hear from me," she said on the ABC program. "One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally."

She burst into tears as she looked at a broken levee. "The President could have funded it," she said. "He cut it out of the budget. Is that the most pitiful sight you have ever seen in your life? One little crane."

She also referred angrily to comments Bush had made Friday at the New Orleans airport about the fun he had in her city in his younger days.

"Our infrastructure is devastated, lives have been shattered," Landrieu said. "Would the president please stop taking photo-ops?"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Russert rips Homeland Security Secretary

The Sunday talk shows had a field day with the Bush administration officials and Russert asked the head of the Homeland Secuirty if he wil resign (he should of been fired by now).

Transcript from Meet the Press
MR. RUSSERT: Now, let's turn to Hurricane Katrina. Joining us is the man in charge of the federal response to the disaster, the director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.

Mr. Secretary, this is yesterday's Daily News: "Shame Of A Nation." And I want to read it to you and our viewers very carefully. It says, "As for Chertoff, if this is the best his department can do, the homeland is not very secure at all. It is absolutely outrageous that the United States of America could not send help to tens of thousands of forlorn, frightened, sick and hungry human beings at least 24 hours before it did, arguably longer than that. Who is specifically at fault for what is nothing less than a national scandal... It will never be known exactly what a day could have meant to so many unfortunates whose lives came to an end in those hopelessly tortured hours--on scorching roadsides, for lack of a swallow of water, in sweltering hospital bads, for lack of insulin. But what is already more than clear is that the nation's disaster-preparedness mechanisms do not appear to be in the hands of officials who know how to run them."

Mr. Secretary, are you or anyone who reports to you contemplating resignation?

SEC'Y MICHAEL CHERTOFF: You know, Tim, what we're contemplating now is the fact that we are very, very much in the middle of a crisis. There's a bit of a sense that you get that some people think it's now time to draw a sigh of relief and go back and do the after-action analysis, and there'll be plenty of time for that. We obviously need to look very closely at things that worked well, and many things did work well, and some things that didn't work well, and some things did not work well.

But we have to remember that we have an enormous challenge ahead of us, and there's not a lot of time to get ahead of it. We have basically moved the population of New Orleans to other parts of the country, or we're in the process of doing so. We've got to feed them. We've got to shelter the people. We've got to get them housing. We've got to educate their children. We have to dewater the city. We have to clean up the environment. We're going to have to rebuild. Those are enormous, enormous tasks, and we can't afford to get those messed up.

So what I'm focused on now and what I want my department--in fact, what the president has ordered all of us to be focused on now--is: What do we need to do in the next hours, in the next days, in the next weeks and the next months to make sure we are doing everything possible to give these people succor and to make their lives easier?

MR. RUSSERT: Mr....

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: We will have time to go back and do an after-action report, but the time right now is to look at what the enormous tasks ahead are.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, many Americans believe now is the time for accountability. The Republican governor of Massachusetts said, "We are an embarrassment to the world." The Republican senator from Louisiana, David Vitter, said that you deserve a grade of F, flunk. How would you grade yourself?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: You know, Tim, again I'm going to--the process of grading myself and grading everybody else is one that we will examine over time. I will tell you that my focus now is on what is going to go forward. What would really be--require a grade of F would be to stop thinking about the crisis we have now so that we can start to go back and do the after-action analysis. There are some things that actually worked very well. There are some things that didn't. We may have to break the model that we have used for dealing with catastrophes, at least in the case of ultra-catastrophes.

And let me tell you, Tim, there is nobody who has ever seen or dealt with a catastrophe on this scale in this country. It has never happened before. So no matter what the planning was in advance, we were presented with an unprecedented situation. Obviously, we're going to want to learn about that. I'll tell you something I said when I--a month ago before this happened. I said that I thought that we need to build a preparedness capacity going forward that we have not yet succeeded in doing. That clearly remains the case, and we will in due course look at what we've done here and incorporate it into the planning. But first we are going to make sure we are attending to the crisis at hand.

MR. RUSSERT: So no heads will roll?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Tim, in due course, if people want to go and chop heads off, there'll be an opportunity to do it. The question I would put to people is what do you want to have us spend our time on now? Do we want to make sure we are feeding, sheltering, housing and educating those who are distressed, or do we want to begin the process of finger-pointing? I know that as far as I'm concerned I have got to be focused on, and everybody else in this government, and the president has made this very clear, we have got to focus on moving forward to deal with some very real emergencies which are going to be happening in the next days and weeks because of the fact that we have to deal with an unprecedented movement of evacuees.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Vitter, the Republican from Louisiana, said the death toll could reach 10,000 because of the lack of response. Do you agree with that number?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: You know, I understand first of all, Tim, that--and I'm clearly including myself among this group--many, many people are frustrated and very distressed by what happened here. Obviously, every minute matters in a situation like this. I think I said that we are racing the clock. But even with that sense of frustration and being upset, I don't think that I'm in a position to start to speculate and guess about what the numbers will be.

I will tell you one thing I know, that when we come to the point that we've completed the evacuation, we're going to start dewatering the city--in fact, it's under way now--we're going to confront some very, very ugly pictures. Many people may have been trapped when that levee broke, and the lake basically became, you know, part of the city of New Orleans. People were trapped in their houses and couldn't get out. Some of those people fortunately apparently were able to be safe and are coming out now.

We rescued 10,000 people, the Coast Guard did. That's three times as many as in any prior year. Think about that. That's an--that is compressing in three days the rescue efforts of--three times the rescue efforts of any prior year. There were some extraordinary actions that were taken by people at all levels, including people at the Department of Homeland Security where the Coast Guard is. So we have worked very aggressively, but we got to tell you, we have to prepare the country for what may be some very, very difficult pictures in the weeks to come.

MR. RUSSERT: People were stunned by a comment the president of the United States made on Wednesday, Mr. Secretary. He said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." How could the president be so wrong, be so misinformed?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet," because if you recall the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse. It was on Tuesday that the levee--may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday--that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city. I think that second catastrophe really caught everybody by surprise. In fact, I think that's one of the reasons people didn't continue to leave after the hurricane had passed initially. So this was clearly an unprecedented catastrophe. And I think it caused a tremendous dislocation in the response effort and, in fact, in our ability to get materials to people.

And one last point I'd make is this, Tim. We had actually prestaged a tremendous number of supplies, meals, shelter, water. We had prestaged, even before the hurricane, dozens of Coast Guard helicopters, which were obviously nearby but not in the area. So the difficulty wasn't lack of supplies. The difficulty was that when the levee broke, it was very, very hard to get the supplies to the people. I-10 was submerged. There was only one significant road going all the way the way around. Much of the city was flooded. The only way to get to people and to get supplies was to have airdrops and helicopters. And frankly, it is very--and their first priority was rescuing people from rooftops. So we really had a tremendous strain on the capacity of--to be able to both rescue people and also to be able to get them supplies.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say prestaged. People were sent to the Convention Center. There was no water, no food, no beds, no authorities there. There was no planning.

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: My understanding is, and again this is something that's going to go back--we're going to go back over after the fact is--the plan that the New Orleans officials and the state officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort. We became aware of the fact at some point that people began to go to the Convention Center on their own, spontaneously, in order to shelter there. And I think it's for that reason that people found themselves without food and water and supplies. The challenge then became...

MR. RUSSERT: Well, Mr. Secretary, you said--hold on. Mr. Secretary, there was no food or water at the Superdome, either. And I want to stay on this because...

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, my understanding--well...

MR. RUSSERT: I want to stay on this because this is very important. You said you were surprised by the levee being broken. In 2002, The Times-Picayune did story after story--and this is eerie; this is what they wrote and how they predicted what was going to happen. It said, and I'll read it very carefully: "...A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time. ... The scene's been played out for years in computer models or emergency operations simulations... New Orleans has hurricane levees that create a bowl with the bottom dipping lower than the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. ...the levees would trap any water that gets inside-- by breach, overtopping or torrential downpour--catastrophic storm. ... The estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter for people too sick or inform to leave the city. ...But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground. Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Other will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days."

That was four years ago. And last summer FEMA, who reports to you, and the LSU Hurricane Center, and local and state officials did a simulated Hurricane Pam in which the levees broke. The levees broke, Mr. Secretary, and people--thousands...

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Actually, Tim, that...

MR. RUSSERT: Thousands drowned.

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Tim, I had...

MR. RUSSERT: There's a CD which is in your department and the White House has it and the president, and you are saying, "We were surprised that the levees may not hold." How could this be?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: No, Tim, I have to tell you, that's not what I said. You have to listen to what I said. What I said was not that we didn't anticipate that there's a possibility the levees will break. What I said is in this storm, what happened is the storm passed and passed without the levees breaking on Monday. Tuesday morning, I opened newspapers and saw headlines that said "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet," which surprised people. What surprised them was that the levee broke overnight and the next day and, in fact, collapsed. That was a surprise.

As to the larger point, there's no question that people have known for probably decades that New Orleans sits in a bowl surrounded by levees. This is a city built on the coast in an area that has hurricanes in it that is built below sea levels and that is a soup bowl. People have talked for years about, you know, whether it makes sense to have a city like that, how to build the levees. So, of course, that's not a surprise. What caught people by surprise in this instance was the fact that there was a second wave, and that, as The Times-Picayune article makes very clear, creates an almost apocalyptic challenge for rescuers.

The fact of the matter is, there's only really one way to deal with that issue, and that is to get people out first. Once that bowl breaks and that soup bowl fills with water, it is unquestionably the case, as we saw vividly demonstrated, that it's going to be almost impossible to get people out. So there is really only one way to deal with it, and that is to evacuate people in advance.

Michael Brown got on TV in Saturday and he said to people in New Orleans, "Take this seriously. There is a storm coming." On Friday there was discussion about the fact that even though this storm could fall anywhere along the Gulf, people had to be carefully monitoring it. We were watching it on Saturday and Sunday. The president was on a videoconference on Sunday telling us we've got to do everything possible to be prepared. But you know, Tim, at the end of the day, this is the ground truth: The only way to avoid a catastrophic problem in that soup bowl is to have people leave before the hurricane hits. Those who got out are fine. Those who stayed in faced one of the most horrible experiences in their life.

MR. RUSSERT: But that's the point. Those who got out were people with SUVs and automobiles and air fares who could get out. Those who could not get out were the poor who rely on public buses to get out. Your Web site says that your department assumes primary responsibility for a national disaster. If you knew a hurricane 3 storm was coming, why weren't buses, trains, planes, cruise ships, trucks provided on Friday, Saturday, Sunday to evacuate people before the storm?

SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Tim, the way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials. The federal government comes in and supports those officials. That's why Mike Brown got on TV on Saturday and he told people to start to get out of there.

Open thread

Sorry for the late post but I received tickets to the US Open and I needed alittle break from the computer.

People in New Orleans and in other areas in the south still urgently need your help. As of today, rescue workers are still pulling people out of their homes so the rescue work is far from over.

Please give to the American Red Cross. Any amount of money will be greatly appreciated.

This is a open thread. What's happening in CT?