September 09, 2005

Why aren't Blanco & Nagin under arrest?

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ignored information he received from officials with the National Hurricane Center as early as Friday, 8/26, regarding the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina. Nagin had the capability to commandeer municipal buses and school buses to evacuate those who could not afford to leave the city. Yet the buses he did use, took people to "shelters of last resort," including the New Orleans Convention Center and the Louisiana Superdome, both of which became virtual representations of hell on earth in the ensuing days.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco was also warned well in advance of Katrina's landfall about the power of the storm. She was asked by the Bush Administration if she needed aid -- in advance of the storm's arrival, an unprecedented move in this nation's history. Blanco demurred, saying that the help would not be necessary.

Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, actually telephoned Blanco and Nagin -- at home in Nagin's case -- Saturday night, imploring them to evacuate New Orleans, and once again, emphasizing the power of this storm.

Still the two did not go on the air until Sunday morning, advising people to evacuate -- yet neither one made provisions outside the city for those who could not afford to leave. Both Blanco and Nagin, when questioned on the air that Sunday morning, said that those who could not afford to leave should go to the Superdome or several other "shelters of last resort."

As Katrina cut a swath across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on that Monday morning, water began to breach the seawall and levee system protecting New Orleans from the waters of Lake Pontchartrain to the north. The waters undermined the 17th Street Canal's seawall, sending water cascading into the city. The water ultimately began to overwhelm the massive pumps used to pump out water, prompting a warning from Nagin that the city would flood to a depth of up to 12 feet or more.

Yet, nothing was done to evacuate those in the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center.

Hundreds of buses were in the city, yet were not used to evacuate those people.

Additionally, the city's own disaster plan calls for the use of school and city buses to evacute those who could not afford to leave the city on their own -- yet it was apparently ignored.

Governor Blanco denied access to the city by the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, both of whom were prepared to bring relief supplies, including food and water, to the people ensconced in the Superdome and 'Convention Center.

Even more damning, the Crescent City Connection, a high-span bridge carrying US 90 across the Mississippi River, remained unobstructed. The bridge goes from downtown New Orleans to the West Bank area of the city, and westward into the Airline Highway, and from there westward away from New Orleans. US 90 remained as an access route for the press and ultimately for rescue vehicles that finally arrived in New Orleans.

There are other issues: President Bush, on arrival in Louisiana, met with Nagin and Blanco. Blanco asked for a 24-hour period to consider Bush's offer of additional aid and resources.

When asked about the buses, Nagin's staffers have refused comment.

Nagin and Blanco have both pointed the finger at each other regarding blame for the disaster.

All of this points toward one overriding question: Why aren't Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin under arrest? They deserve to be charged with multiple counts of manslaughter at the very least -- through their ineptness, malfeasance and incompetence, the pair of them are directly responsible for the deaths of literally hundreds, if not thousands of men, women and children in Orleans Parish and the city of New Orleans.

As opposed to permitting them to continue to posture and play partisan games with each other and with the press (fueling fanatic assertions of blame against the Bush administration in the process), they both should be arrested and detained pending an arraignment hearing and trial.

Posted by mhking at September 9, 2005 12:17 PM | TrackBack

As a command and control vetern i can tell you that the federal goverment can never make up for a local and state goverment that lets thir people down the way it did in New Orleans.

Posted by: Roderick Ferroggiaro at September 9, 2005 12:51 PM

Police in surrounding jurisdictions are culpable as well:

Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, said:

"There was no food, water or shelter" in Gretna City, Lawson said. "We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people. "If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged."

Nah, that doesn't sound racial, at all...

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at September 9, 2005 01:16 PM

(Reuters - 09/09/05) - "The number of dead in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina may not be as high as first feared, the top Homeland Security official there said on Friday.....The numbers so far are relatively minor as compared with the dire predictions of 10,000."

The 10K NO death toll projections were made by the NO Mayor and LA Governor. This begs the question... Were these projections purposely inflated to make as much political hay as possible? Based upon what appears to be an orchestrated effort from the left to lay this entire catastrophe on Bush's head, it does seem a likely possibility.

Of course, the DNC posters that follow this will likely try to spread their current talking point that FEMA is purposely not allowing news agencies in the show the dead because they're conspiring to cover-up the total death toll and ultimately covering for Bush. How long will it take Jesse Jackson, Crazy Al or Mikey Moore to appear before the cameras and make that lunatic allegation? I'm betting less than a week. And of course the wackos on the left will lap it up without question.

Posted by: OddBrian at September 9, 2005 01:28 PM

I have opened and then closed this Comments window three times before I finally had the courage (or gall) to write this comment. And it really bothers me to write it now.

As to "Why aren't Blanco & Nagin under arrest?", I only have this: They won't be arrested. (1) Liberals rarely get punished. (2) Both of them "represent" minorities, and any attempt to hold these two accountable will be met with strong national resistance by their respective "protection" groups.

And it's sad, because if either of these two had been competent in their jobs many dead people would be alive today. They scream about Bush being personally responsible for all deaths in our freeing of Iraq, but when there's death in their own back yard they fall over themselves pointing fingers at anyone and everyone else.

Posted by: Shamalama at September 9, 2005 03:35 PM

You are being irrational. An evacuation on that scale is unprecedented in the U.S., and there is no place in the country with a population of that size that can properly house than many displaced people.

If there are fewer than 10,000 deaths, it mean that despite all the mishaps, the authorities managed to get most of the people out of harms way.

Posted by: brotherbrown at September 9, 2005 04:30 PM

Excuse me? Brotherbrown, did you say that "dispite the mishaps, the authourities managed to get most of the people out of harms way?!"
It would appear that the authorites did precious little to get anyone out of harms way. Based on the number of parked city and school busses, I would say that the authorities failed miserably in even trying to get the people out of harms way.
Although you are right that an evacuation of this magnitude is unprecidented, that is exactly why citys have disaster plans in place. It is not for the small scale disasters, but for those that by the sheer magnitude require a workable plan be devised, implimented and followed. Large scale evacuations should never (and are not) left to the pure chance that someone might have enough spontanous bright ideas to handle it on the fly. Every large city has disater preparedness workshops, planning, drills, etc., which are orchestrated by that plan.
Granted, no plan is perfect and there is always much to be learned after a disaster forces it's implimentation, but to simply ignore the plan is criminal.
I do not think it in the slightest bit irrational to expect that any city in America utilize it's established plan, especially when given as much warning as a major hurricane affords.

Posted by: arboribabe at September 9, 2005 06:23 PM

I think the phrase you are looking for is "depraved indifference:" being unwilling to bother to do what you should have, and having people injured or die as a result. Could apply to any or all of Nagin, Blanco, Brown, Bush, . . . .

Posted by: wj at September 9, 2005 06:49 PM

I don't like Bush all that much, and I'm damn sure not a Republican - nor a Liberal, or any of the rest of those things.

I pray to God that this business about the Local and State leadership (more accurately, lack thereof) will someday come to light. It sickens me that these incompetent politicians caused so much dispair and loss of life because they failed to execute a plan. They had time. They had the resources. They had plans. Sure, it's a huge disaster - and no one expects things to be perfect.

And now, in the aftermath, they're awfully quick to start casting blame...too quick, if you ask me. It stinks of them trying to divert attention away from what appears a horrible lack of action on their part.

Blaming Washington, when you clearly didn't do squat to protect your own constituents...Mr. Nagil, you need to resign, and then pray to your God for forgiveness. You, sir, are an absolute idiot.

Posted by: Cliff at September 10, 2005 01:31 AM

"On the state of Louisiana website you can find this letter Gov. Blanco sent to President Bush on August 28th, that was last Sunday, just on the eve of the hurricane's landfall. (Here's the PDF and here is a text transcription.) Basically the letter is a laundry list of requests for aid and assistance from the federal government, invoking various laws, and so forth.

Some of the key passages include ...

Under the provisions of [the relevant federal law], I request that you declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26, 2005, and continuing ... In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on August 26, 2005 in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act. A State of Emergency has been issued for the State in order to support the evacuations of the coastal areas in accordance with our State Evacuation Plan ... Pursuant to 44 CFR ยง 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster ...
The referenced state declaration of emergency was apparently declared on August 26th, that is, the Friday before landfall.

There's also this Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana, which appears on the White House website dated August 27th, which begins: "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing."

Key excerpts include ...

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe ... Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.
Now, it seems to me there are three points that make sense to raise with all this data.

The first is the importance of keeping an eye on the big picture and that is the fact that this whole conversation we're having now is not about substance, but procedural niceties, excuses which is it is beyond shameful for an American president to invoke in such a circumstance. We don't live in the 19th century. All you really needed was a subscription to basic cable to know almost all of the relevant details (at least relevant to know what sort of assistance was needed) about what was happening late last week. The president and his advisors want to duck responsibility by claiming, in so many words, that the Louisiana authorities didn't fill out the right forms. So what they're trying to pull is something like a DMV nightmare on steroids.

Second, as long as the White House wants to play this game, there are various invocations of federal statutes in this proclamations. And we'd need a lawyer with relevant experience to pick apart whether the right sections and powers were invoked.

Third -- and this is key -- even on its own terms, the White House's claims seem false on their face. The plain English of this documents shows that states of emergency had been declared on both the state and federal level before the hurricane hit and that at the state's request the president had given FEMA plenary powers to "identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."

This is Bush and his cronies passing the buck--this is an incompetent
administration that has functioned to fill the pockets of a few people
and worse. As far as I'm concerned they are the worst sort of right
wing, conservative Christian capitalists who use any tools,
including racism, sexism, and xenophobia, to accomplish their aims.

Posted by: JJ at September 22, 2005 04:15 PM

Preparing for an emergency and performing initial emergency response is at the local level. Anyone who has had any dealings with emergency response plans, knows this. Federal does not take over the local or state authority nor would you want them to. Federal is there to support state and local. LA and NO had emergency plans in place. Go look at them on their website for yourself. They did not properly implement them and people suffered. It is NOT the government's responsibility. It is local and state's responsiblity. Always has been and always will. God willing.

Posted by: pad at September 27, 2005 02:38 PM
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