April 28, 2006

Who Blew the Big Blow - More Details Than You Can Shake a Stick At

Hatched by Dafydd

The easiest way to present the charges of incompetence, bureaucratic entanglement, and screw-ups from the Senate Homeland Security Committee's report on Hurricane Katrina is to post a couple of charts. Each of these charts was taken from the 20-page Executive Summary of the committee's report; I have included the page number of each "attaboy" or accusation entered on these charts, for those obsessive enough to double-check me.

The first chart, labeled "Cheers," comprises the few things about the response that the report praised.

Note an interesting fact that went unreported by the Associated Press's wretched hit piece on the president... in fact, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina was praised far more than were the responses of either the City of New Orleans or the states of Louisiana or Mississippi:

New Orleans Louisiana and Mississippi Fed. Agencies White House
Primary responsibility
(p. 3-4)
Secondary responsibility when city requests help
(p. 3-4)
Teriary responsibility when state requests help
(p. 3-4)
Declared emergency two days before landfall (p. 5)
  Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries did great job (p. 8) FEMA: videoconference to warn of risk; DHS warned of levee overtopping or breaching (p. 5) President Bush personally called Gov. Blanco to urge mandatory evacuation
(p. 8)
    FEMA pre-positioned "unprecedented amount of relief supplies" before landfall (p. 7)  
    National Guard and DoD mobilized before landfall
(p. 7)
    Largest National Guard deployment in U.S. history --50,000 troops from 49 states
(p. 11)
    DoD streamlined process for moving National Guard and active duty troops to area (p. 11-12)  

Not surprisingly, the second chart is labeled "Jeers," and it consists of all of the specific charges leveled at any level of government -- city, state, or federal. Omitted from this chart are both vague claims (that "leadership" was lacking, for example) and also any specific accusation that was applied equally to all levels of government -- for example, lack of funding for emergency-preparedness departments.

Notice first that the Jeers table is much longer than the Cheers table; the report was very negative. But second, far from "ripp[ing] the White House" or the "Bush administration," in fact the feds came in for slightly less roughing-up than did either the city or state authorities... and the Bush White House in fact was the only entity that received more praise than condemnation.

The boldface entries are those whose genesis is long-term, not specifically related to the individuals in office at the time of the disaster:

New Orleans Louisiana and Mississippi Fed. Agencies White House
Mayor Nagin failed to request help from state
(p. 6)
Gov. Blanco made no specific request for fed. help in evacuation
(p. 6)
FEMA "at no time in its history" able to handle storm of this size (p. 6) Directed fed response from Crawford until two days after landfall
(p. 8)
Unprepared to help people evacuate
(p. 8)
"Senior state official" said no unmet needs
(p. 6)
Michael Brown failed to properly direct pre-postitioned supplies (p. 7)  
Allowed hundreds of buses to be submerged
(p. 8)
State transportation secretary ignored emergency plan (p. 6) DHS head Chertoff failed to personally supervise before landfall (p. 7)  
Failed to arrange for drivers of buses that were available (p. 8) Widespread communications failures in Louisiana and Mississippi (p. 9) FEMA failed to provide boats for S&R teams (p. 9)  
Allowed police stations, vehicles, emergeny equipment, and ammunition to be destroyed (p. 8) Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development failed to follow state emergency plan (p. 10) Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC) failed to adequeately inform president and secretaries
(p. 9)
Fire department owned no boats; police only owned five (p. 9) Gov. Blanco unable to commandeer school buses
(p. 10)
Poor communication between DHS, DoD, and HSOC (p. 9-10)  
Mayor Nagin opened Morial Convention Center as a "second refuge of last resort," but failed to stock it with food or water
(p. 12)
Federal and state electronics equipment incompatible
(p. 10)
500 buses sent by FEMA arrived late
(p. 10)
Nagin did not communicate to state or federal agencies about Morial Convention Center
(p. 12)
Louisiana and Mississippi had trouble getting supplies "the last mile"
(p. 10)
FEMA lacked supply-tracking database
(p. 10)
Top city officials inflamed public perception of lawlessness by "erroneous statements"
(p. 12)
In Louisiana, National Guard could not carry supplies to those in need (p. 10) Federal and state electronics equipment incompatible
(p. 10)
Police presence on the streets inadequate
(p. 12)
Lack of portable toilets in Louisiana
(p. 10)
Federal law-enforcement assistance slow to arrive (p. 13)  
Office of Emergency Preparedness inadequate
(p. 13)
Louisiana unable to process offers of help from other states
(p. 11)
Rank and file cops unfamiliar with emergency-operations manuals (p. 13)      

Particularly noteworthy is the comparison of the "net evaluation" of each of the three branches of government; I define this as the number of accusations of failure combined with the number of accolades for success for a net failure or success score. Here are the figures:

  • City of New Orleans: 12 failures + 1 success = 11 net failures;
  • States of Louisiana and Mississippi: 11 failures + 2 successes = 9 net failures;
  • Federal agencies: 10 failures + 6 successes = 4 net failures;
  • White House: 1 failure + 2 successes = 1 net success.

Compare this record from the actual Executive Summary itself with the claim by AP that --

A Senate inquiry into the government's Hurricane Katrina failures ripped the Bush administration anew Thursday and urged the scrapping of the nation's disaster response agency. But with a new hurricane season just weeks away, senators conceded that few if any of their proposals could become reality in time.

The bipartisan investigation into one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history singled out President Bush and the White House as appearing indifferent to the devastation until two days after the storm hit.

By "appearing indifferent," it's clear that what AP really means is that Bush was directing the federal response from his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, TX, rather than from the White House itself. To the Associated Press, this is "indifference."

Need we say more?

This is perhaps the most egregiously biased and slanted Katrina story since the first days after the storm itself, when the antique media blithely repeated ludicrous and lurid rumors of rapes, murders, and cannibalism -- and laid it all at the doorstep of the White House.

Media "madness" is indeed the proper phrase for it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 28, 2006, at the time of 5:33 AM

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Tracked on April 28, 2006 7:48 PM

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Tracked on April 28, 2006 9:29 PM


The following hissed in response by: MTF

Great post Dafydd. You put the whole issue into one nice little review package and well arm those of us looking for quick debating points. The problem is that the press, especially the NYT and the AP, are spreading the opposite view in blanket fashion, purposely taking a "big lie" approach as outright propagandists. The administration has really been stupid in letting the oppo grab the microphone so often without fighting back. Truth isn't winning out yet.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 28, 2006 10:14 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

I've worked with FEMA on projects, and I really hate how they the media has actively misrepresented their role in disasters. They are not first responders, and never have been. Fema has always said that essentially, you're on your own for the first three days of any disaster. Those days are a state and local responsibility, or god forbid, up to the individual. This is why the response in Mississippi was great and Louisiana terrible.

What is lost in the news reports is that this was possibly the most complete FEMA response to any disaster ever.

But you know, this is liberal Democrats. people are helpless, and only the government can help them.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 28, 2006 10:20 AM

The following hissed in response by: tincan sailor

How long are they going to beat this dogg????
I suggest folks read the March 2006 Popular
Mechanics!! Debunking the Katrina Myths,what
really happened and what to do next time...Its
a good read..If the Coast Guard,navy,army,Air
Force and Fish and Game Helicopters were
flying in the first hours of the storm in 80
mph wind doing rescues that sounds like a lot
of Fedreral response to me and if that still
doesn't convince the critics, go tell the Pilots
and Air Crews face to face they were out for a
Joy ride....

The above hissed in response by: tincan sailor [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 28, 2006 11:38 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

BigD said

What is lost in the news reports is that this was possibly the most complete FEMA response to any disaster ever.
But you know, this is liberal Democrats. people are helpless, and only the government can help them.
...Actually, that should read "only a Democrat-controlled government can help them."

I think we all know that if Kerry had won the election our stalinist media would be reporting Katrina as the worst hurricane ever -- a disaster that would have been far, far worse without the Stakhanovite efforts of our national heroes at FEMA. Any dissatisfaction with FEMA would either be dismissed as extreme right-wing carping or explained as sadness that Gore wasn't elected in 2000 so that his five-year "plan to make the world perfect" could have prevented the hurricane altotether.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 28, 2006 12:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

The deliberate lying by the DuNCe/MSM on this is appalling. I thought we only got this kind of bad reporting and poisoned public discussion in tyrannical states like cuba or NK.
That the MSM still carries the water for Nagin, Blanco, et al is a lessno for history in the fact that 'freedom of the press' does not equal 'honesty of information'.
The lefty ahcks in this nation realized that Katrina could have been yet another time for great unity and good faith help for all people of this nation. The self-ablsorbed left could only see one problem with that: that some benefit would have accrued to President Bush.
The left knows that if African Americans ever realize that conservatives not only have good faith towards all citizens, but have effective programs to help when times are tough, the DNC plantation will empty out. Without racial block voting, the DNC is a dead party. The DNC relies on ethnic voting more than Iraqi politics to maintain their power, and they know it. Lying about Katrina steadily was simp[ly the price the left was willing to pay to keep their voting plantation well manned. The MSM, too lazy, too corrupt and too leftist to care, is happy to echo the dnc scam no matter the cost in integrity.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 30, 2006 9:20 AM

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