Friday, August 24, 2007

They Knew This, Too

Greg Palast reports yesterday that the White House and FEMA knew at 11 a.m. on Monday that the levees were going to breech, and that at 2 p.m., FEMA helicopters flew over the 17th Street Canal and took videos of the breech. But the White House, FEMA, and the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t alert state authorities responsible for emergency preparations.

Palasts’s source for this stomach-churner is unimpeachable: Dr. Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, the chief technician advising the state on the hurricane's progress and expected effects.

The reason the White House sat on its information, Palast explains, is

Political and financial cost. A hurricane is an act of God - but a catastrophic failure of the levees is a act of Bush. That is, under law dating back to 1935, a breech of the federal levee system makes the damage - and the deaths - a federal responsibility.

This leaves unanswered why not alerting state and local authorities would mitigate, much less invalidate, federal responsibility. If the levees failed, the levees failed. And the levees failed. As Palast reminds us, Katrina didn’t strike the Crescent City. It struck east of the city. It wasn’t Katrina. It was the failure of Army Corps of Engineers' levees, and that's important to keep repeating.

The White House/FEMA/Corps failure to tell state and city officials about cracks in the levee at 2 p.m. Monday led inexorably to 1,500 deaths that might well have been saved otherwise. It also adds to a mountain of incomprehensible failures of this Administration, failures any one of which would warrant impeachment.

But what better way to shrink the rolls of Democrat voters? Delay, incompetence, and malice aforethought. That’s our W.

More on the Bush/Katrina inundation forthcoming.