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Saturday, March 04, 2006
 
AP Acknowledges Breach Story Was Wrong

This of course won't get the play that the initial "Bush Warned of Breaches" story got.

An Associated Press story Thursday on this page incorrectly reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing among U.S. officials.

The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaching.


Run the story midweek; release the correction on Friday night. But as usual, stuff like this backfires on the media; the Washington Post, duped by the original, runs with an editorial today:

ON THE DAY before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, federal emergency officials warned President Bush that the hurricane could be "the big one," the storm the region had long feared; that the Superdome, the shelter of last resort in New Orleans, was below sea level and might well lose its roof; that medical and mortuary teams might not be prepared; and that the levees might not hold back the floodwaters.

Without a doubt, the tape provides evidence that the White House received ample warning of the catastrophe. Yet within days of that videoconference, Mr. Bush would excuse the federal government's extraordinarily poor performance by telling an interviewer that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."


Everybody had heard that Katrina might be the big one, so it's not as if the White House's defense was that nobody told them a serious storm was coming. Remember, that every news source was reporting Monday afternoon and evening that New Orleans had been spared the worst of the storm. The Post goes on to note that:

Another tape recently released to the AP reveals that Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) reassured the president that the levees had held -- three hours after they had broken.

Well, you know how it is; you have to rely on people who are actually close to the scene to tell you what's going on. But that doesn't excuse Bush in the Post's eyes:

On the tape, the president doesn't ask any questions about preparedness, and there is no evidence in documents since released that he was any more engaged before or after the conference. Had anyone called the Defense Department? Was the National Guard en route? Were local Army bases prepared to help? Were emergency food and water supplies in place? The president, like everyone around him, appears to have assumed that everything would run like clockwork, just as it was supposed to on paper.

There's a bit of deception in that paragraph. See the part about, "...there is no evidence in documents since released that he was any more engaged before or after the conference..."? Brown himself has indicated that Bush was indeed engaged after the conference; indeed many of the stories on this series of videotapes and transcripts have indicated just that.

Previously:

Levee Story

Breach in Levees Not Anticipated--Multiple Updates!

Hat Tip: Power Line
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