Landrieu Implores President to "Relieve Unmitigated Suffering;" End FEMA's "Abject Failures"
[P]erhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.
I've also added a couple other tidbits to my previous post (such as the bit about the Navy/Marine group on the USS Bataan, that was present in the gulf and wanted to help by providing water, medical assistance -- they have 600 beds and the med staff to use them -- and a fighting force to help secure the streets; but FEMA didn't want them) and there's so much more... Mike Brown, head of FEMA, was fired from his last job, supervising judges for horse shows; he got his job at FEMA because he was the college roommate of the guy Bush put in originally, who was himself a political hack with no disaster-related experience. Also, FEMA interfered with an arrangement between Blanco and Bill Richardson (gov of NM) to send NM's Nat'l Guard units to NOLA... The headline "Bush visit halts food delivery" just about says it all, doesn't it?
It just goes on and on. There is no depth of stupidity, corruption, and incompetence to which they cannot sink.
Official meme of the month: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
ETA: More on the USS Bataan, from a US Naval officer interviewed by the BBC (note that the link will probably be slow, and may fail, since it's a largish MPEG and the site hosting it has been getting clobbered):
Northcom started planning before the storm even hit. We were ready for the storm when it hit Florida, because, as you remember, it crossed the bottom part of Florida, and then we were planning once it was pointed towards the Gulf Coast. So, what we did was, we activated what we call "defense coordinating officers" to work with the states to say, "OK, what do you think you will need?" And we set up staging bases that could be started. We had the USS Bataan sailing almost behind the hurricane so that after the hurricane made landfall, its search and rescue helicopters could be available almost immediately. So, we had things ready. The only caveat is: We have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion*; we have to wait for the president to give us permission.
* This is because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from engaging in civilian duties under most circumstances -- which is usually good, because it helps prevent military coups. In this case, however, it seems that the President was asleep at the switch, delaying the engagement of the Bataan -- with its millions of MREs, ability to produce 100k gallons of drinking water per day from seawater, and its 600 hospital beds -- for days. (The officer in question, Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, has sent email to some of the people who've posted this info, trying to step back from the gaffe -- a gaffe being, of course, when somebody accidentally tells the truth. I imagine he's taking a lot of heat for embarrassing the Commander in Thief.)