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Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina
By MARGARET EBRAHIM and JOHN SOLOMON
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 2, 2006; 1:00 AM


WASHINGTON -- In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

The footage _ along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press _ show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Linked by secure video, Bush expressed a confidence on Aug. 28 that starkly contrasted with the dire warnings his disaster chief and numerous federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

The White House and Homeland Security Department urged the public Wednesday not to read too much into the video footage.

"I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing," presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said, citing a variety of orders and disaster declarations Bush signed before the storm made landfall. "He received multiple briefings from multiple officials, and he was completely engaged at all times."

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said his department would not release the full set of videotaped briefings, saying most transcripts _ though not the videotapes _ from the sessions were provided to congressional investigators months ago.

"There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," Knocke said. "We actively participated in the lessons-learned review and we continue to participate in the Senate's review and are working with them on their recommendation."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a critic of the administration's Katrina response, had a different take after watching the footage Wednesday afternoon from an AP reporter's camera.

"I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right now," Nagin said. "I was listening to what people were saying _ they didn't know, so therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware."

For the complete article see:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...AR2006030101996.html
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "I have not always been right, but I have always been sincere." ~ W.E.B. Du Bois ~~~~~~~~~~~
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This was major news down here of course. I saw the clip and I saw Nagin's reaction to the tape, he was speechless at first damn near in tears. Everyone down here had been feeling the white house knew what could happen but didn't care to react to it and with this clip those opinions were simply validated. Bush was warned but took it with a grain of salt.Mike brown's leaving makes even more sense to me now. he should feel just as guilty as bush.
What I find absolutely amazing is that Brown expressed concern about the Super Dome and its location and its roof. I run a Emergency Operations Center for the Army and if I told my boss that I knew a particular location where we were going to send people was equally unsafe as their present, he would throw my ass out the door and he should.

If someone tells you that levees holding back a freaking lake are suspect in this hurricane, then it seems to me and every freaking emergency manager I've talk to, you pre-position equipment to deal with the flood and the resulting results. Its one thing to react when you are taken by surprise, its criminal to react after something happens when you were warned.
quote:
What I find absolutely amazing is that Brown expressed concern about the Super Dome and its location and its roof. I run a Emergency Operations Center for the Army and if I told my boss that I knew a particular location where we were going to send people was equally unsafe as their present, he would throw my ass out the door and he should.


I'm having a slow moment here. Are you saying that if you, as operational manager, warned your superior of a possible disaster, you would expect to be punished?

I'm hoping that I mis-read that.
I guess that time I spent in Alabama last week effected my proof reading skills, what I meant was that if after I warned my boss about how unsafe the location was and then I still sent people to that location despite how dangerous the location was, yes he should fire my stupid ass. At the very least knowing my boss he would ask me what the freak was I doing. Its kinda like throwing folks from the fire into the frying pan.

Common sense should be that if your primary evacuation location is compromised, then you switch to an alternate or you evacuate the people. You don't send them to an equally dangerous and unsafe location and then throw your hands up in the air and declare I did my best.

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