Remember when President Bush and the clowns running FEMA kept saying that they had no idea how damaging Katrina would be or that the levees would fail? Remember that? Yeah, well, it turns out they weren’t being entirely honest:
Embattled former FEMA Director Michael Brown said, “I think we were all taken aback by the fact that the levees did break in so many places and caused such widespread devastation.”
Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff said, “I will tell you that really that perfect storm of combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners and maybe anybody’s foresight.”
And on Sept. 1, President Bush told “Good Morning America”: ‘‘I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees” that flooded New Orleans.
The documents provided today by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, however, showed that the federal agencies overseen by Brown and Chertoff had compiled damage forecasts for the White House at least 48 hours before the storm’s landfall that predicted levee overtopping and breaches.
On Aug. 27, two days before the storm made landfall, FEMA had prepared a slide presentation for White House officials. The FEMA slides said a Category 4 storm surge “could greatly overtop levees and protective systems.” It’s unclear who at the White House received this briefing or how its contents were distributed afterward.
Hours before the storm made landfall, the White House Situation Room received a report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security in which experts predicted flooding “could leave the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months.” The report also said that hurricane damage could cost $10 billion to $14 billion.
I know, I know. Big fucking surprise. If Bush and the other administration officials didn’t know it was only because they didn’t bother to pay attention to the information coming into the White House on the matter. So how is the White House responding to this report? With a great big case of keep-your-big-fat-mouth-shut-and-maybe-it’ll-go-away:
At a hearing today, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said the White House has maintained a “refusal to answer” stance regarding questions and document requests by congressional investigators looking at the federal government’s response to Katrina.
“Almost every question our staff has asked federal agency witnesses regarding conversations with or involvement of the White House has been met with a response that they could not answer on direction of the White House,” Lieberman said.
Former FEMA Director Michael Brown has said that he notified the White House of his concerns about the storm on the weekend before it struck. Lieberman said that in a meeting with congressional investigators yesterday, Brown was advised by agency lawyers not to answer specific questions about whether he’d spoken to President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the days leading up to the storm.
While it’s certainly true that there probably wasn’t a helluva lot that could’ve been done to prevent the levee breach even if Bush and friends were paying attention they still could’ve used the time and information to evacuate more folks ahead of the storm. At the very least they could’ve been better prepared to relieve the disaster once it occurred, but that information came from the scientist-types and we know how much stock Bush puts into science…