John Kerry Hits with Knock Out Punch on Documents Proving Bush Administration Failed to Heed Early Warnings on Katrinaby Pamela Leavey
Earlier today, I posted a piece about the news today reported by the WaPo and the NY Times that “48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm’s likely impact.”
John Kerry just released the following statement — a knock out punch, in my opinion — on the release of documents proving that the administration was fully and accurately briefed on the risks Hurricane Katrina posed to the Gulf Coast:
“How is it that the White House Situation Room received detailed warnings 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, that the National Hurricane Center was warning CNN and the world that Katrina could be The Big One, that FEMA reported two days before landfall that Katrina’s surge ‘could greatly overtop levees and protective systems,’ destroy nearly 90 percent of city structures, require ‘incredible search and rescue needs (60,000-plus),’ and displace more than a million people – and the President days later still insisted on national television, ‘I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees’ that left 1,300 dead and thousands more homeless?
“Where’s the accountability? Where’s the compassion?
“Hurricane Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed the true heart and nature of this administration. It showed Americans at their best – and our government at its worst.
“Sadly, there’s an enormous gap between what Americans deserve and what the government delivers. The shocking weakness of our government to deal with urgent challenges is tragically and dramatically underscored by the information that was being fed into the White House Situation Room, and the lack of response coming from a vacationing president on his ranch in Crawford.
“Beginning with the appointment of an Arabian horse executive to lead America’s emergency preparedness in the post-9/11 world, to a president who remained away from the heart of the hurricane’s devastation for five days, Katrina is the story of a failure of leadership and its very real human consequences.
“We wouldn’t be having this conversation if the people running our government in Washington had cared to listen. They didn’t listen to the Army Corps of Engineers when they insisted the levees be reinforced. They didn’t listen to the countless experts who warned this exact disaster scenario would happen. They didn’t listen to years of urgent pleading by Louisianans about the consequences of wetlands erosion in the region, which exposed New Orleans and surrounding parishes to ever-greater wind damage and flooding in a hurricane. They didn’t listen when a disaster simulation just last year showed that hundreds of thousands of people would be trapped and have no way to evacuate New Orleans. They didn’t listen to those of us who have long argued that our insane dependence on oil as our principle energy source, and our refusal to invest in more efficient engines, left us one big supply disruption away from skyrocketing gas prices that would ravage family pocketbooks, stall our economy, bankrupt airlines, and leave us even more dependent on foreign countries with deep pockets of petroleum. And now it’s a proven fact that they didn’t listen when everyone was warning that Katrina was The Big One Louisianans had long dreaded. They didn’t even abandon their vacations.
“The people of the Gulf Coast got more of the same hurricane force spin and deception when they needed action and compassion. To say it’s an outrage is the understatement of the year – right up there with Brownie and his ‘heck of a job.’”