Let me pause, here, to remind or enlighten you: the ‘Posse Comitatus’ Act constrains any Administration from use of the Army and Air Force to execute the laws, save in cases of insurrection (there are certain exceptions for the Navy and the Coast Guard). When there is not a police presence to support and the governor, for reasons of turf, won’t mobilize the Guard, it stymies the DoD and the White House. Guess what has happened in this very instance….
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So. Let us look. Let us look at what has happened.
There was a disaster plan for New Orleans. It required mandatory evacuations. It required the use of designated shelters – of which the Superdome was not one. It was the responsibility of Blanco, Nagin, and Ebberts to execute.
In fact, the mandatory evacuation order – too little and far too late – was issued by Blanco only after she was begged by the President to order it. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.
Nagin and Ebbert did not execute. Nor did they provide for those without the ability to evacuate on their own: they left between 400 and 500 city and metro buses standing empty in parking lots, that could have materially assisted the evacuation of those without access to private transportation. Of course, we now have reason to suspect that the NO school system may not have known it had buses, or drivers, or how to reach them. Those buses, now ruined, are still sitting in rows, like planes at Pearl Harbor and Manila on 7 and 8 DEC 1941: sitting, ruined, and leaking toxic sludge into the floodwaters. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.
New Orleans had a scare last year – Hurricane Ivan – that provided these same officials with a dry run. They made the exact same mistakes. Like the city’s founding French Bourbons, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.
Let’s be clear here. In the first place, New Orleans received neither a direct hit from Katrina nor did it catch the ‘dirty quarter’ of the storm. Mississippi did. Do you see these problems where Haley Barbour is showing leadership? No.
What happened, instead, was the Pontchartrain levee failed. The newest and strongest and most recently upgraded one. Which is to standard: a standard set under LBJ, in 1965, and not changed since by any Congress or any Administration. The levees are engineered for a Cat 3 hurricane. Katrina was a Cat 4.
Everyone knew that was the danger. George W. Bush could have started the Corps in on upgrading the levees the day he first took office and they wouldn’t be done. In fact, the idea to study the possibility of doing so was adopted in 1999, under Clinton, and set to result in a completed study and the possible start of work only in 2006.
That is why the plans have always been to evacuate, on a mandatory basis, 72 hours prior to landfall. Blanco and Nagin didn’t. Only pressure from GWB got them to order an evac at all. No wonder they’re trying to shift blame.
Prior to the disaster, the Bush White House – which, we know now, was also having to deal with the imminent death of the Chief Justice of the United States, in addition to all the other business of government – tried to federalize and streamline the emergency management and the evac. Blanco resisted, in a turf war. No wonder she’s trying to shift blame.
hattip: IRIS ENG