In a well detailed letter to President Bush, Governor Kathleen Blanco requested that Bush declare an “expedited state of disaster for the State of Louisiana… beginning on August 28, 2005 and continuing.”
It appears there is some confusion over at the White House about when Governor Blanco requested aid and for that matter when she declared a State of Emergency for the State of Louisiana.
According to the WaPo, “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.” That’s rather curious because the letter from Governor Blanco to President Bush clearly states that she declared a State of Emergency on August 26, 2005.
Perhaps the two journalists for the WaPo don’t frequent DU, but they should, if they did they might have seen the link to the letter. And a quick visit to Gov.Louisiana.gov would have turned up the link to this: STATE OF EMERGENCY – HURRICANE KATRINA – August 26, 2005. The State of Emergency Order clearly states that “The state of emergency extends from Friday, August 26, 2005, through Sunday, September 25, 2005, unless terminated sooner.”
It seems that these two documents do create a bit of sticky situation for the lies of the Bush administration, perpetuated by the WaPo in this story — Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting, White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials.
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. “Quite frankly, if they’d been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,” said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
“The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana,” White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. “The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana.”
Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state’s victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.
Clearly the WaPo could have done a better job with a bit of investigative journalism. They chose the easy way out and let the claims of the Bush administration stand as a statement of their headline, rather than refute the Bush administration’s claims, as I have above.
Shame on WaPo journalists Manuel Roig-Franzia and Spencer Hsu, while many other journalists have finally wrestled free from the propaganda driven Republican Noise Machine, it appears these two are still members of The Disinformation Society.
It’s too little, too late from the Bush administration. AFP News reports tonight that “Katrina criticisms echo past complaints against Bush.”
Complaints about President George W. Bush’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina echo past criticisms over crises like the Asian tsunami or the Iraq war.
Doubters are asking whether he reacted too slowly to the catastrophe, sent enough troops to keep order, or relied too much on rosy scenarios spun by senior aides while New Orleans descended into anarchy.
Some lawmakers and local emergency officials have called Washington’s initial reaction “a national disgrace” and assailed the Bush administration as having a too-little, too-late response.
AFP News, also held back no punches for their peers, in declaring that “On its Internet site, CNN on Friday quoted upbeat assessments of relief efforts by US officials, which contrasted sharply with the grim conditions on the ground.”
One more hat-tip tonight to AFP for this story: Louisiana Senator raps Bush over Katrina effort.
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu branded President George W. Bush’s visit to a busted levee in New Orleans a mere photo-op, and slammed his government’s response to the hurricane tragedy.
We’re continuing to look for more truth in journalism, as evidently some are still relying on bad habits and haven’t felt the true horror of what a failed administration we have at the helm. There simply are not enough adjectives to describe what most Americans are feeling right now.
UPDATE: See what the other blogs are saying about this WaPo story here. The conservative spinners are spinning…