In case you missed the importance of the Katrina Video story, Video: Bush knew of levee risk, after the hurricane, when FEMA and the Bush administration were being criticized for their (lack of) performance, this was Bush’s statement:
Bush, in post-hurricane comments, insisted that his administration had no warning that the levees were in danger.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,” Bush said Sept. 1. “They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And, as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded.”
But the videotapes tell a very different story:
President Bush was warned about Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact on New Orleans’ levees before the storm hit, according to transcripts of emergency briefings that Bush received. The transcripts appear to contradict his assertions that no one anticipated the failure of levees that flooded the city.
Transcripts of the briefings, first reported by the Associated Press and also obtained by Knight Ridder, show that Bush was told in stark detail about Katrina’s potential deadly impact and that he heard a top hurricane expert express “grave concerns” about the ability of the levees to withstand what turned out to be a catastrophic hurricane. They also show that Bush asked no questions.
Former FEMA Director Michael Brown said that before the storm slammed into the Gulf Coast, he and the nation’s top hurricane scientist did all they could to convince Bush, the White House staff and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that “the big one” was about to happen.
“I don’t know how he couldn’t understand how bad it was or bad it could be,” Brown said in an interview with Knight Ridder, referring to Bush.
National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield worried about breached levees, and Brown talked about how the Superdome, which was destined to be the home for thousands of evacuees, was below sea level and at risk of flooding. He also talked about trouble evacuating prisons and hospitals — all before Katrina hit.
Bush, caught in a flat-out lie.
And with all those warnings, why didn’t Bush or his administration do anything to prepare, to make sure everything was in oace, to get resources where they were needed, or to help the victims after the hurricane hit? Because Bush was on vacaton and was not paying any attention.
The news that Bush was warned in advance about Katrina’s destructive power is another blow to an administration whose integrity and competence has come under fire for its response to the hurricane, the ill-fated Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination, its handling of a transaction that would let a United Arab Emirates company manage cargo terminals at six major U.S. ports, and its conduct of the war in Iraq.
“It’s devastating that the president would ask no questions,” said David Gergen… “If he sat there mum in a full briefing . . . that will only confirm the suspicions of a lot of opponents.”