The Fifth Horseman: Katrina in The News

Monday, September 05, 2005


Katrina in The News

Hurricane Katrina has spawned some interesting television moments over the past week. Perhaps most entertaining of all was Kanye West's outburst during a fundraising telethon on live TV. (I analyzed it here)

But that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about the Sunday political talk shows.

Perhaps most interesting was yesterday's Meet The Press. Of Russert's guests for the day, the two most interesting were Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff and the President of Jefferson Parish Louisiana, Aaron Broussard. (Full transcript here)

Mr. Broussard became quite emotional on the show, blasting the Administration's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina. At one point, a tearful Broussard proclaimed:

"We have been abandoned by our own country."

You can see a video excerpt here at Crooks and Liars.

Almost as interesting as Broussard was Mr. Chertoff, who immediately began doing what the Chickenhawk Brigade does best: denying responsibility for their fuckups. In fact, rather than helping to coordinate the rescue effort, Chertoff spent his time on Sunday making the rounds of the political talk show circuit, trying desperately to shift blame from the Administration on each show.

After Meet The Press, Chertoff began subtle on Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: How is it possible that you could not have known on late Thursday ... that there were thousands of people in the Convention Center who didn't have food, who didn't have water, who didn't have security, when that was being reported on national television?

CHERTOFF: Well, Chris, you know, that's one of the issues we have to look at.

I mean, we were in constant touch with what was going on in the field, getting information from state and local officials.

As it happened on that very Thursday, I was in a videoconference with state officials and didn't get any information about this.

And one of the things we will look at is, why it is in the middle of this emergent crisis there was kind of a conflict in the information.

Chertoff later dropped the subtle approach to his blameshifting on CNN's Late Edition:

The very day that this emerged in the press, I was on a video conference with all the officials, including state and local officials.

And nobody -- none of the state and local officials or anybody else was talking about a Convention Center.

Apparently, according to the Administration, local and state officials hold all of the responsibility for the disastrous response to Katrina.

Disaster response isn't the main responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security. Right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. Let's examine the Mission Statement for the Department of Homeland Security:

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.

The DHS knew that there was no food stockpiled in New Orleans...yet they did nothing about it. They knew that the levees wouldn't hold, yet they refused to evacuate the 200,000 car-less poor folks from the city. And yet, it failed to respond significantly until almost a week after the levees broke.

Not only did Chertoff fail the people of this nation, but the entire Administration failed us. This entire response was a failure on virtually every level of the Administration, all the way up to Mr. Bush himself.

They have failed us, and heads need to roll for that failure.

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