Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bush Defends Katrina Response

At yesterday's Press Conference he was of course asked if he had "made any mistakes" while in office. Lamest question of all time.

Bush made his reflective face and said he had "thought long and hard about Katrina" and admitted that "things could have been done better."

However, showing how clueless he really is, he denied any problem with the federal response to the disaster, insisting, "Don't tell me the federal response was slow." He actually became quite heated.

The fact is that the federal response was disastrously slow.

As the White House itself acknowledged in a February 2006 report, "the response to Hurricane Katrina revealed a lack of familiarity with incident management, planning discipline, and field-level crisis leadership."

This is not just the view of partisan bloggers, Republicans have also come to this conclusion. A 2006 report compiled by House Republicans slammed what it called "a failure of leadership," saying that the federal government's "blinding lack of situational awareness and disjointed decision making needlessly compounded and prolonged Katrina's horror." The report specifically blamed Bush, noting that "earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response" because the President alone could have cut through bureaucratic resistance.

In fact, despite a FEMA official's eyewitness accounts of New Orleans's levees being breached starting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29, the Bush administration "did not consider them confirmed" until 11 hours later.

Also FEMA did not order the evacuation of New Orleans until 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, two full days after Katrina made landfall. Bush even praised the rescue efforts as a "pretty good response."

CNN's Campbell Brown focuses on what was perhaps Bush's single most startling disconnect from reality: His insistence that the federal response to Katrina was not slow.

"Now, many people will disagree over many aspects of the Bush legacy," Brown said. "But on the government's handling of Katrina, it's impossible to challenge what so many of us witnessed firsthand, what the entire country witnessed through the images on our television screens day and night.

"New Orleans was a city that for a time was abandoned by the government, where people old and young were left at the New Orleans Convention Center for days with no food, with no water. We were there. The whole country saw what was happening."

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