Katrina: Why aren’t we talking about Criminal Negligence?
By Mike Wwhitney
03/03/06 "ICH" -- -- "I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right
now... You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully
aware." New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
It is clear now that Michael Chertoff and George Bush can be
directly implicated in the deaths of the 1,300 Americans who died in
Hurricane Katrina. The newly released video from the Associated
Press proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they were adequately
warned of the gravity of the approaching storm and the risks it
posed to people of New Orleans. The only question now is whether the
charges should be criminal negligence or manslaughter. We leave that
to the attorneys.
As the video shows (
both Bush and his Homeland Security chief were told by federal
disaster officials in unambiguous language “that the storm could
breach levees and overwhelm rescuers”.
What could be clearer than that?
Bush’s comments three days later that, “I don’t think anybody
anticipated the breach of the levees”, was obviously meant to
mislead the public and redirect the blame away from himself.
For some unknown reason, Bush and his lieutenants ignored the
warnings of the Hurricane experts and stubbornly refused to take
timely action that would have saved lives. Even when Chertoff was
notified that the levees had been breached, he failed to respond
until hours later.
After all, as one official noted, “It was not only predictable; it
Indeed, it was. But Bush and company obviously had different plans
What those plans were; no one knows, but that doesn’t minimize the
scale of the disaster or keep us from assigning blame. The video
proves that both Bush and Chertoff are guilty of dereliction of duty
and, very possibly, manslaughter.
The question now is one of “intentionality”, not “culpability”.
The media has played a crucial role in blocking attempts for an
independent investigation and for absolving Bush of guilt. From the
beginning, they singed-out ex-FEMA-chief Michael Brown as the
scapegoat for the obvious failures of the administration. We know
now that “Brownie” was perhaps the only high-ranking official who
acted responsibly and tried to protect the public from harm. Brown
repeatedly warned of the potential dangers of Katrina but no one
paid attention. On the video he is heard saying, “My gut tells
me…that this is a bad one and a big one…To put it mildly, this is
the big one”.
Brown cautioned that the Superdome was 12 ft below sea-level and
could be swamped if the levees broke. He later alerted Homeland
Security that, “They’re not taking patients out of the hospitals,
taking prisoners out of the prisons, and they’re leaving hotels open
in downtown New Orleans. So, I’m very concerned about that.”…”I’m
concerned about the medical and mortuary resources and their ability
to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe.”
He also added later, “I want to jam up supply-lines. I want to cut
the bureaucratic red-tape. I want it, balls-to-the-wall, in doing
everything we could.”
Brown was obviously doing the best he could under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, his efforts were rewarded by a “swift-boat”
media-campaign that portrayed him as a clownish-bungler who botched
the relief-effort from start to finish. The media deftly shifted the
blame from the White House (where it belonged) to a bit-player in
the government bureaucracy who was only trying to save lives. The AP
video shows where the guilt really lies.
There’s no evidence that anyone else in the administration was
particularly worried by the tragedy or the loss of life. Three days
passed before troops were deployed to the region and the
relief-effort was hampered at every turn by federal agents.
As more and more incriminating evidence has surfaced, the
recalcitrant media has stuck to its narrative of a “blundering
bureaucracy” unable to deal with a massive natural disaster like
Katrina. All of the 2,200 articles which first appeared about the
storm invoked the very same phraseology. According to the MSM,
Katrina showed a “failure of imagination” or, Homeland Security was
“slow to react” or, Chertoff was in “a fog of war” or, (Bush’s much
repeated) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the
These carefully-worded phrases have built a protective wall around
Bush and Chertoff; shielding them from direct involvement in the
deaths of 1,300 Americans and 2,300 missing.
We may not know what Bush or Chertoff had in mind when they refused
to carry out their duties, but we do know that it was not the result
of a “bungling bureaucracy”. That’s just baloney.
The “buck-passing” media is trying to deflect blame and hoodwink the
public, but the charges remain the same; criminal negligence or
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