White House Warned About Levees Before Katrina Struck

Bush pauses?In an article on Reuters by Richard Cowen, Americans have learned that there is a lot of truth behind the allegations that the White House had ample warning that Hurricane Katrina was going to cause substantial problems in New Orleans. President Bush and other White House officials have denied this.

I quote liberally from Mr. Cowen’s article below.

Former federal disaster chief Michael Brown told a U.S. Senate panel on Friday he warned President George W. Bush of impending catastrophe in New Orleans last summer and informed White House aides of dangerous flooding shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck.

Brown said on August 29, the day the hurricane hit, he relayed urgent reports that the city’s levee pumps were failing, contradicting White House officials who have said they were unaware on August 29 the levees were no longer functioning.

On September 1, Bush said in a television interview, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Yet Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the committee’s ranking Democrat, cited a report from the National Weather Service at 9:14 a.m. on August 29 that at least one of the levees protecting the city was breached.

Brown, who headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in his first detailed testimony about his contacts with Bush and top White House officials that he informed the White House that “we were realizing our worst nightmare.”

In addition to one or two direct talks with Bush before the storm, Brown said he talked with White House officials about 30 times once Katrina hit land. Those conversations included White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Brown said, adding: “Sometimes the president would get on the phone.”

In his testimony, Brown said Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff’s sprawling agency was making Katrina response decisions contrary to his own. “It became an absolutely unmanageable situation,” Brown said.

Brown emerged as the main scapegoat for the government’s response. He was forced to resign shortly after the disaster.

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