Wednesday :: Mar 1, 2006

AP Has Video That Destroys Bush's Excuses About Katrina

by Steve

Listen, here's the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job.
--Bush, yesterday, to ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas

At the time this picture was taken on August 30th, 2005, Bush had already been told a day before two days before that Katrina could breach the levees and that the response would be inadequate and life-threatening.

This has the potential to get ugly for Bush quickly. The AP has obtained a copy of a previously unreleased confidential video of briefings between the Bush Administration, including Bush himself, and state and local officials before Katrina hit New Orleans. The Los Angeles Times has the story, and a link to an AP videostory with some of the actual video. has the story, and the video also.

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, risk lives in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage of the briefings.
Six days of footage and transcripts 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.

And how did Bush react to the warnings from his own people that the storm could breach the levees and risk lives in New Orleans? What did he turn around and say to state and local officials?

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on Aug. 29 but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
Linked by secure video, Bush's bravado on Aug. 29 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

Yet what did Bush say four days later?

Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.

And after Bush got this warning on August 29th, akin to the warning he got about Al Qaeda nearly four years earlier, what did he do? He went on a campaign swing to California, Andy Card went on vacation, and Condi went to buy shoes in New York.

Image thanks to NYU

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