Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tape Shows Bush Lied About Katrina Knowledge

Are you sitting down? Because I have one hell of a shocker for you. George W. Bush has been caught in another lie.

This time, we look back at his feigned ignorance – which may be the only time in his life Bush has faked that characteristic – that Hurricane Katrina was going to do the damage that was done and that the New Orleans levee system would ultimately fail.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that transcripts and recently-released video tape show that both President Bush and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff were fully aware before Katrina hit that the massive storm would likely breach levees in the city and overwhelm rescue efforts. The tape, from Bush’s final briefing with Michael Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was recorded 19 hours before Katrina struck land and shows that Team Bush had a good idea how bad it would be.

You can see the tape at Crooks and Liars.

Referring multiple times to Katrina as “the big one,” Brown also told Bush that the Louisiana Superdome, sitting 12 feet below sea level, might also fall apart and create, in the ex-FEMA chief’s words, “a catastrophe within a catastrophe.”

Bush asked no questions during the briefing – can you imagine Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter sitting silently with something of this scope about to happen in our country? – and showed no evidence of grasping the magnitude of the hit New Orleans was about to take.

Then, four days after Katrina struck, Bush appeared on television and acted as if the hurricane’s potential for severe damage was a surprise to everyone. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," Bush said in an interview with ABC News.

Really? Despite the fact that even someone with “Brownie’s” lack of disaster experience could see what was coming and expressly warned the president?

And what about the clear warnings given by Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center in the same briefing?

“This is a Category Five hurricane very similar to Hurricane Andrew in the maximum intensity, but there’s a big, big difference: This hurricane [Katrina] is much larger than Andrew ever was,” warned Mayfied. “I also want to make absolutely clear to everyone that the greatest potential for large loss of life is still in the coastal areas from the storm surge.”

Finally, Mayfield adds that the topic of the levees being breached was “…obviously a very, very grave concern.”

While many of us in the media tend to get a sense of “lying fatigue” from listening daily to new things that the Bush administration has mislead the American people about, I’m sure this latest revelation only adds to the pain felt by the families of the 1,330 people killed by Katrina and the 2,300 still missing.

Oh, one more thing: Where was Chertoff during the briefing? Well, he was there remotely from the agency’s Washington headquarters. Then, having absorbed all the intense news from the grim meeting, he promptly flew to Atlanta for a bird flu event.

You guys are doing a heck of a job, Bushie.