Katrina Smoking Gun (or Not)


Remember when the President said he didn't think "anybody anticipated the breach of the levees"? Never mind.bush_katrina_briefing.jpg"In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage" obtained by the AP.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."The footage - along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press - show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.
Watch the tape, if you can. It's absolutely gut-wrenching.UPDATE 10:45 PM: Some of you are already asking, "What does Katrina have to do with defense?" It's pretty self-evident to me. But click here for an explanation.UPDATE 03/04/06 5:09 PM: The AP issued this clarification to the story yesterday:
In a Wednesday story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his Homeland Security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing.The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.The day before Katrina, Bush was told there were grave concerns the levees could be overrun.It wasnt until the next morning, as the storm made landfall, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had asked about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.
To me, the "top" versus "breach" argument is largely semantic; what matters here is that the folks at the top were told in advance how bad Katrina was looking. But, check out the comments, and you'll read a lot of people telling you otherwise.
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