The Associated Press had obtained footage from a videoconference on August 28, the day before Katrina struck. Bush, as well as many federal, state and local officials were participating. It also obtained the transcripts of seven days of briefings that followed.
The AP story says it all:
Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
Okay. Well there’s sin number one: rosy optimism and lack of intellectual curiousity. UPDATE: To be fair, other reports are saying that AFTER Katrina hit, Bush did become engaged and "ask serious questions".
"I’m concerned about … their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," [FEMA Chief] Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.
Brown was speaking about the ability to evacuate people from the Superdome. So even Brownie, who has been the major fall guy, was on top of this particular problem.
Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. …"I don’t buy the `fog of war’ defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."
Yup. I agree, Brownie.
Now comes the Bush lie:
Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.
White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.
"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He’s obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he’s asking questions about reports of breaches."
TBogg sez: "Now, since those of us suffering from BDS [Bush Derangement Syndrome] might be somewhat inclined to say, ‘People died, Bush lied’ what would be the appropriate wingnutty response?"
In fact, the whole video gives lie to what Bush said yesterday, to ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas:
"Listen, here’s the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren’t getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job."
Read the whole article. It will transform you vision about the response to Katrina. The blame can be shared, but it doesn’t exclude Bush.
UPDATE: Video link here.
UPDATE 2: Apparently, these are the transcripts that Bush refused to turn over to Congress, claiming executive privilege. But when word came out that AP had the video and transcript, the White House started leaking portions of the transcript to Newsweek to counteract criticism.