Monday, September 19, 2005


Blanco admits responsibility to state legislature

Inadvertently caught on tape telling her press secretary she had bungled the response to Katrina by failing to request military assistance, as has now been widely reported, Louisiana’s Governor Blanco has changed her tune in trying to blame the federal government for state and local government’s failures.

"I really should have called for the military," Blanco said, while chatting with her press secretary in between TV interviews. "I really should have started that in the first call."

Unbeknownst to Blanco, her bombshell acknowledgment was recorded on a network satellite feed, and by Tuesday the clip was getting wide exposure in Louisiana news broadcasts.

In the early days of the Katrina crisis, disaster management experts repeatedly blamed the failure to send in the National Guard for the city's descent into chaos.

As has been previously discussed on this site and elsewhere, the decision not to send the 7,000 available Louisiana National Guardsmen into New Orleans was Blanco’s call, as was the decision to refuse to allow relief workers, including the Red Cross, into the city. Particularly, the widely reported misery at the Superdome was not the result of any slow federal response, but the result of Blanco’s decision not to allow workers and supplies which had been prepositioned for that very purpose to go to the Superdome for fear that people would want to stay instead of being evacuated. (See my previous few posts for links and details.)

Furthermore, it has become clear, especially since her taped admission, that Blanco initially refused federal assistance and troops, instead turning to a Clinton-era former federal official to try to manage the disaster on a state level.

Caught with her hand in the cookie jar, Blanco, speaking to the Louisiana legislature last week, admitted her responsibility and dropped her repeated attempts to blame federal officials for her disastrous decision-making and failures to act:

Where earlier she and her aides had openly blamed the Bush administration for bungling Katrina rescue efforts, Blanco announced: "The buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility."

Just as surprising were Blanco's words of praise for the White House: "I want the people of Louisiana to know that we have a friend and a partner in President George W. Bush. I thank you, Mr. President."

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