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Friday, February 10, 2006
The Never-Ending Levee Story

This story is getting a lot of attention around the blogosphere this morning.

White House officials have confirmed to Congressional investigators that the report of the levee break arrived there at midnight, and Trent Duffy, the White House spokesman, acknowledged as much in an interview this week, though he said it was surrounded with conflicting reports.

But the alert did not seem to register. Even the next morning, President Bush, on vacation in Texas, was feeling relieved that New Orleans had "dodged the bullet," he later recalled. Mr. Chertoff, similarly confident, flew Tuesday to Atlanta for a briefing on avian flu. With power out from the high winds and movement limited, even news reporters in New Orleans remained unaware of the full extent of the levee breaches until Tuesday.

Liberal bloggers will of course try to spin this into "Bush Lied, Thousands Died" but the reality, as we have discussed extensively, is that almost all of the people who died in Katrina did not die from the levee failure, that the government could not have done much about the levee failure for several days. And the story acknowledges that:

Mr. Chertoff and White House officials have said that they were referring to official confirmation that the levee had broken, which they say they received Tuesday morning from the Army Corps of Engineers. They also say there were conflicting reports all day Monday about whether a breach had occurred and noted that they were not alone in failing to recognize the growing catastrophe.

Mr. Duffy, the White House spokesman, said it would not have made much difference even if the White House had realized the significance of the midnight report. "Like it or not, you cannot fix a levee overnight, or in an hour, or even six hours," he said.

See also Rick Moran's terrific dissection of this piece. Joust the Facts also takes his lance to the story.
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