Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Leaked memo on FEMA happens to contain the truth

The AP is publishing news stories based on a memo prepared by a congressional aide and leaked to that news organization. Ironically, they seem to fail to grasp the fact that the memo reflects the truth.

Embattled former FEMA director Michael Brown says he was initially unaware of desperate conditions at the New Orleans Convention Center because it was not a planned Hurricane Katrina evacuation site, according to a congressional memo.

After learning from television about the thousands of evacuees who gathered at the center, Brown ordered food and water be delivered there. But Brown, who on Tuesday faces a House inquiry into the government's slow response to the Aug. 29 disaster, told congressional aides that "there is no reason FEMA would have known about it beforehand."

In Katrina's aftermath, thousands of people gathered at the convention center, where adequate food, water and other supplies were lacking and where violence was common.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, was written by a Republican congressional aide who attended a 90-minute briefing Monday with Brown, who resigned as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sept. 12.

Those interested in looking at facts, instead of rehashing the rumors and falsehoods that ran rampant after Katrina, will recognize that the contents of this memo are the truth. We know now that the Convention Center was never designated as a shelter, and state and local officials never notified FEMA that it had become one.

We also know now that the AP story quoted above repeats one of the enduring myths of Katrina: the widespread violence at the convention center.

Contrary to widespread media reports, most of which have gone uncorrected, there were no piles of bodies, no mass rapes, no 40 incidents of gunfire involving swat teams, no armed mobs running wild at the convention center.

What there was at the convention center were a whole lot of folks who were never evacuated by state and local officials (yes, evacuation was THEIR job, not the federal government's) without supplies or relief workers because STATE officials (yes, STATE officials) refused to allow relief supplies or workers into the city (as confirmed by the Red Cross) in an atmosphere where it is surprising there wasn't more violence because the New Orleans cops were busy looting the Wal-Mart (as seen on film) or hiding out and the Governor refused to allow the 7,000 available Louisiana National Guard troops to enter the city.

I have yet to see any quantifiable, documentable facts which tend to show a SLOW federal response to Katrina.

Sure, lots of little anecdotal isolated incidents, like turning away Wal-Mart water trucks. But with an undertaking of any size, you're going to get those incidents. I have seen nothing that indicates the federal response overall was slow OR ineffective.

And if Governor Blanco had consented to federalize the National Guard response, there wouldn't have been any paperwork delays in bringing in Guardsmen from other states... although 7,000 Louisiana Guard troops should have been more than enough to maintain order in New Orleans, if she would have actually authorized them to do so.

Everybody's perception seems to be based on the Superdome, where the Governor refused to allow relief supplies to be delivered (FEMA had prepositioned 14 semi-trailer loads of supplies there...what became of that?) or relief workers to respond, while failing to provide any means of evacuation, and a whole bunch of hysterical, wild-eyed rumors that got reported over and over again as facts.

At some point during the 2004 election campaign, the MSM in this country abandoned all pretense at presenting news, and became an all-out propaganda machine for its own leftist agenda. That trend has continued, and is reflected in the grossly inaccurate coverage of Katrina.

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