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September 8, 2005

Can Michael Brown be tried for murder?
Posted by Teresa at 06:26 PM *

This morning’s news from New Orleans, reported in the Los Angeles Times:

Police May Force Out Residents
Bacteria Counts Off the Charts, U.S. Warns …

NEW ORLEANS � Police officials threatened Wednesday to resort to forced evacuations by the end of the week to clear out residents who had not left, pointing to environmental tests warning of dangerous bacteria levels in the floodwaters. …

Police and military officials were focused on saving the lives of those still holed up in the shells of eroding houses and apartments. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin is counting on a toughly worded evacuation order he signed Tuesday night to persuade thousands of residents to leave.

Nagin instructed police and National Guard troops “to compel the evacuation of all persons from the city of New Orleans, regardless of whether such persons are on private property or do not desire to leave.”

But partway through the story, you get this:

Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency—who is under fire for the agency’s slow response to the flooding—said Wednesday that scores of police and volunteer firefighters from around the nation, as well as trucks loaded with donated water, were even now being prevented from entering New Orleans while troops conduct house-to-house searches.

“They can’t just yet,” Brown said during a briefing in Baton Rouge. “There is going to come this natural time when we will release this floodgate of cops and firefighters who want to help. It’s the same for anyone who wants to volunteer—we have over 50,000 offers of donations from the private sector. It has to be coordinated in such a way that it helps.”

What “natural time”?!

The natural time for aid to come into the city was as soon as the hurricane had passed!

AND THAT WAS A WEEK AGO!

(Note: That was not “shrill.” That was a roar.)

A person who has no drinkable water will die in three days. The survivors of Hurricane Katrina have been stranded twice that long—and still Brown doesn’t think it’s time to send in aid! With the authorities now threatening to evacuate the city, the only “natural time” he can possibly be waiting for is the point where no one who needed help is still alive in New Orleans.

Brown has been actively prohibiting aid to the city. Under his direction, FEMA has repeatedly and unambiguously prevented aid of all kinds from getting into the city. There are no excuses for this delay. The survivors’ needs are apocalyptically simple: Rescue. Food. Water. Medical care. Transportation out of the city. Shelter. People have died and are still dying there for lack of basic assistance which Brown won’t let reach them.

The White House doesn’t think Brown’s doing anything wrong. They’ve put no pressure on FEMA to change its policies. While it’s true that Bush & Co. did come up with a big plan to address complaints about their response to Katrina, it had nothing to do with helping the survivors and cleaning up the wreckage. It was all about containing the political damage. This was a two-pronged plan: have high-ranking administration officials do meaningless photo ops in the Gulf Coast area (Bush does that a lot), and meanwhile try to shift all the blame for mishandling the situation onto local officials.

Elsewhere in the news, federal emergency teams have succeeded in delivering at least one batch of supplies to the Gulf Coast disaster area: 25,000 body bags. They’ve pulled more than thirty bodies out of one nursing home alone, at St. Rita’s in St. Bernard Parish. They found fourteen bodies in an abandoned hospital. Many, many more bodies are expected. Those death and casualty figures you’ve been seeing are risibly low, completely unrealistic.

How serious is it? FEMA is trying to keep reporters from taking pictures of the bodies of the dead. They’re claiming it’s in bad taste to show such things. They are wholly contemptible.

These guys are willing to let innocent refugees die in filth and misery. They let corpses lie unattended in the Superdome, some of them undoubtedly in the sight of the grieving relatives. Their body-hunting crews are tieing the corpses they find to trees and fences for later collection. One of the relief crews they wouldn’t let into the area was a bunch of professional morticians. FEMA didn’t want them. The Gulf Coast dead are going to be jumbled into body bags. Identifying them is going to be a nasty, nasty business. FEMA says people ought not find out that their loved ones are dead by seeing them in a news photo, but they’ve made almost no effort to identify the dead, and they’ve made it impossible for anyone else to find out that information.

Taste has nothing to do with it. They don’t want people looking at pictures of the helpless and pitiable dead.

Comments on Can Michael Brown be tried for murder?:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:27 PM:

FEMA says people ought not find out that their loved ones are dead by seeing them in a news photo...

Don't worry, FEMA. After a week in sub-tropical floodwater no one is going to recognize Granny from a photo.

#2 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:41 PM:

Heard Bush this morning on NPR letting "evacuees" know that the Fed is going to give them $2000 on a fucking debit card. All they have to do to get it is contact FEMA through a website (!) or an 800 number (!!). Next up, an interview with a mayor of a small town near NO. He said he hadn't seen or heard from FEMA and that when he called them, presumably to ask for assistance, he couldn't get through.

Surprise!!!!

Bring me the head of Michael Brown. Is this too much to ask? I know removing him from the scene will change little but it might make the administration a teeny bit uncomfortable to have to admit that the guy chosen by George Bush is such an incompetent asshole. I want them to have to admit to SOMETHING.

#3 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:41 PM:

Is there a natural disaster equivalent of a war crimes tribunal? Because we sure need one.

#4 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Well, I spent part of this morning talking to my very Republican sister. (She lives in Utah and is Mormon. She's voted for a Dem or two in her time, and she's willing to listen.) I said that the guys she had voted for had appointed Brown and Chertoff, I gave her examples of how they'd cut com lines or denied aid, and we discussed what would happen if a big earthquake struck Utah. She knows her house would get hit by flood waters if the Deer Creek Dam ever broke, and while she's had CERT training and maintains 72 hours kits and food storage, she says in the event of a flood, her food and supplies would be gone in a day or two, if not sooner. She's been told that if such a disaster would ever happen that the feds would take care of things. Naturally, after I'd shown her some links, she's a bit more dubious about that, and even more dubious since the local response teams are supposed to be CERT and CORE, but while they have trained and organised they lack much in the way of concrete assets. They wouldn't be able to evac people or feed them. She can see the fate of the New Orleans folk happening in Utah every time she imagines what a huge earthquake would do. She's been planning on helping with the refugees that are coming to Utah.

Anyway, we dicusssed this, and she's going to be writing to our state congressmen, one of whom she knows personally since our family worked on his campaign staff way back when. She's going to suggest that Brown and Chertoff be removed and held accountable for the deaths in the region. (She wants to know who she should suggest as a replacement that would be more competent? Giuliani? Witt?)

I know it doesn't sound like much, but my sis is really Republican in a really Republican state. I think her eyes are on the verge of being opened to the callousness of this administration.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:50 PM:

"I want them to have to admit to SOMETHING."

Tsk! You are obviously a member of the reality-based community.

Really, if these stupid fuckers actually once ever owned up to screwing up, that would be it, game over, to their most important audiance . . . their own minds.

They're like some kind of delusional self-help cult, or one of those multi-level marketing pyramid schemes where belief and drive and sticking to the program are far more important than actual results.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Witt would be good. James M. Shannon, President of the NFPA, would be a decent choice too.

#7 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 05:55 PM:

http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=8066 - here's a link to a page that has the lack of response patterns as they show up in other articles. It's a good trove for that sort of thing if you're looking for something to show more conservative family and friends why we're so upset about this.

http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=8066

#8 ::: Ali ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:00 PM:

Taste has nothing to do with it. They don’t want people looking at pictures of the helpless and pitiable dead.

More of the same. The Administration did not allow reporters to take pictures of the bodies coming home in flag-draped coffins from Iraq either.

Dead people are the ultimate evidence. If they don't show it, it isn't there, right? Right?

#9 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:13 PM:

Does anyone have a cite for the morticians being turned away? The only morticians group I've heard about is DMort.

#10 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:13 PM:

At the end of a business conference call with some guys in Columbia, SC today, we talked a little about the aftermath, and they were all saying how great the Red Cross was, how incompetent the government has been, and that "the Red Cross ought to run this country". They might not want to blame Bush just as yet, but they sure think the "government" - the Federal government - screwed up very badly.

#11 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 06:21 PM:

I wish I had kept the link, but yesterday or the day before I was reading an account of the political maneuvering, and one of the (anonymous, of course) 'Washington insiders' justified his shameless manipulation by asserting that Blanco politicized it first by hiring James Lee Witt.

Yes. Hiring Clinton's incredibly competent FEMA director to manage your state emergency is politicizing the situation.

These people have no shame, and no honor.

#12 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:15 PM:

I'm reminded of a quotation in the Guardian the other day, from Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard, via CBS news.

"Take whatever idiot they have at the top, give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/katrina/story/0,16441,1563650,00.html

#13 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:41 PM:

OG--

All I've seen is this article, in which one mortician mentions being turned away because he wasn't FEMA-certified. I haven't seen anything about groups being denied access -- but if they aren't FEMA-certified I guess they would be.

#14 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:58 PM:

FEMA blockading the city, preventing the Red Cross from dispersing aid because they want people to evacuate "voluntarily" -- I suddenly realize what this is. It's a siege. You prevent any supplies from entering the city, and eventually everyone's starving and will agree to whatever terms of surrender you care to impose.

What the heck. It worked for the Spartans.

#15 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 07:58 PM:

Waiting in the wings? The vultures:

Meanwhile, the president has suspended minimum-wage rules for the reconstruction effort, arguing in a proclamation that “The wage rates imposed by section 3142 of title 40, United States Code, increase the cost to the Federal Government of providing Federal assistance to these areas.”
#16 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:10 PM:

Kip, yuck.

And one imagines that fees to Haliburton and their ilk will NOT be lowered, because of this emergency?

As I've been saying for a long time, I'm not surprised by any of this bullshit, merely appalled.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:15 PM:

I don't know about murder, but Brown is for sure guilty of aggrevated esquivalience.

#18 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:24 PM:

If they want to repeal the Minimum Wage for reconstruction, how do they expect the money to trickle back into the economy and do any good in revitalising the area?

If they want to limit the costs to the federal government, then maybe they should let companies bid instead of giving contracts straight to Halliburton.

#19 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:42 PM:

Four predictions.

The refugees from New Orleans are permanently displaced; they have no right to return that the USG will recognize, and will be forcibly prevented from attempting to return if necessary.

The refugees will not be compensated in fact, though they might be legally. (All the aid you've already received is in return for you title to the land you used to own, sorts of swindle.)

There will never be an official body count, casualty estimate, or effort to identify the dead. As many of the dead as possible will be gator chow or bulldozed under with a layer of topsoil slapped over them. Attempts to produce casualty totals will be suppressed, as will attempts to provide services to identify the dead.

No one in the administration will ever be indicted, charged, censured, or otherwise held responsible for a deliberate policy of killing as disaster-stricken American citizens as possible.

#20 ::: Lori ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:53 PM:

Geez Graydon! Those predictions are so far out on a limb...whatever could you be thinking???/ By the way, my husband and I have been saying these same things for about a week now....Until I found this site today I just thought we were part of the paranoid conspiracy-theorists.

#21 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 08:58 PM:

God, I wish I thought you were wrong, Graydon.

The history of this country has been that the men in charge almost always get away with murder. I'm not saying that's very different from a lot of places, but the US is supposed to be different. It's because I am a patriot that this is driving me mad.

#22 ::: Lisa Hertel ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:05 PM:

My father died by drowning, and wasn't found for three days (boating accident). I can tell you as a matter of fact that it is virtually impossible to identify such a body; the people who found him initially though he was a sea turtle (he wasn't fat). Indeed, he had to be buried in a special, hermetically sealed coffin. They didn't bother bring my mother into the morgue to identify him; she did so by his jewelry and dental records. I supposed it helped that his was the only boating accident that week.

Those poor people floating around with the gators & mosquitoes & hungry pets will not be identifiable. Mass graves are a distinct possibility. People using this disaster--as they did 9/11--to hide or go underground will happen. There's no way to figure out what records we do have, and so yes, most of the dead will go unidentified.

I am uncomfortably reminded of the Holocaust--people being ill-treated, then shipped away against their will; anonymous mass graves; and the government making things worse.

#23 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:05 PM:

Mary Dell writes: I suddenly realize what this is. It's a siege.

That's what it's looked like to me for over a week now.

I live in San Francisco, where we are looking at a 20% chance of a major earthquake disaster in the next twenty-five years— and it's almost 70% if you expand your horizon to cover the whole Bay Area.

You bet I'm a little concerned.

When the big one hits Baghdad By The Bay— and it will; but, like the next hurricane strike on the Gulf Coast, we just don't know when— the last thing we'll need is to have to worry about the Federal Emergency Magnification Agency coordinating a siege of the City like they've just done to New Orleans.

And now I gotta add that to my list of disaster preparation problems? How to cope with an openly hostile Federal government determined to gentrify the City By The Bay at gunpoint in the wake of a natural disaster? That's just fscking great.

#24 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:15 PM:

Back behind the counter of the Red and Black somebody a long while ago taped up a postcard of the 1893 Cherokee Strip Land Run.

Plus ça change.

#25 ::: Richard ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 09:40 PM:

"I suddenly realize what this is. It's a siege."

Looks more like a hostage thing. They were held as leverage while the factions negotiated over how to divvy up the loot.

#26 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:00 PM:

Stefan, esquivarience, please!

Particularly since we're partly talking about the professional career of Michael Brown.

#27 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:06 PM:

j h: the new plan in case of an major quake on the San Andreas or the Hayward will be to get my girlfriend, her family, my cats and me out of the area before FEMA and the Guard show up.

#28 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:13 PM:

First of all, it's now fairly clearly established that it was the STATE Homeland Security types who kept the Red Cross out of New Orleans. The Red Cross said as much on its web page, and there's been no serious dispute regarding that fact. In retrospect, this was clearly a mistake on their part, though I suspect that the officials who made this decision had what they thought was a good reason. Note: the governor of Louisiana is a Democrat. It was a stupid decision, but not a nefarious Republican plot.

Second, it now turns out that the Bataan in fact was on station and began search-and-rescue operations as soon as it could do so. The reports that the ship was just waiting around for days are simply false. Even Kevin Drum seems to have reluctantly given up on that nonsense.

Finally, Graydon's apocolyptic paranoia serves to undermine legitimate critcisms of the administration. Look, it's pretty clear that FEMA has been staffed with political hacks. As a result, the agency has performed incompetently, and failed to respond rapidly enough. Even now its response is bizarre -- witness the reports of firefighters being given sexual harassment training in preparation for depolyment as "community relations" people for FEMA, rather than being sent to assist the New Orleans Fire Department in actual useful work. Furthermore, the massive expenditures for "Homeland Security" appear not to have been made very efficiently. (This is attributable to both Congress and the President, who is unwilling to veto even the most pork-laden spending bills.) Those are fair, reasonable points.

But paranoid, overwrought hyperventilations serve only to undermine those reasonable points. The American people simply don't respond well to people who seem demented.

#29 ::: John Doe ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:24 PM:

What if someone just offs him?

#30 ::: arto ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:29 PM:

Unless, of course, they're running on the Republican ticket.

#31 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:32 PM:

I'm afraid that for a change I don't find Graydon overly paranoid. I need to order another nutbar conspiracy shirt. (The cat peed on my first one.)

MKK

#32 ::: Ellen Fremedon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:37 PM:

Mary Kay: Have you tried baking soda?

#33 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:55 PM:

Well, Pete, Graydon’s been pretty darn specific in setting his benchmarks. Care to let’s you and him fight? You know, put up a stake and see what’s happened in 365 days?

I mean, I wouldn't put much more than a chocolate bar against each, but don't let that stop you...

(For the record, why, yes. I am feeling a bit of the ol’ moronic cynic.)

#34 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 10:59 PM:

PS: Michael Brown just got fifty very large.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:11 PM:

If Michael Brown is the Moe of FEMA, let's not forget the other two stooges:

Here's some information on them.

Larry is Patrick Rhode:

The Chief of Staff is a guy named Patrick Rhode. He planned events for President Bush’s campaign. Rhode has no emergency management experience whatsoever.

That leaves Shemp:

The Deputy Chief of Staff is Scott Morris. He was a press flak for Bush’s presidential campaign. Previously, he worked for the company that produced Bush’s campaign commercials. He also has no emergency management experience.
#36 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:20 PM:

The refugees from New Orleans are permanently displaced; they have no right to return that the USG will recognize, and will be forcibly prevented from attempting to return if necessary.

Oh, I think they will be allowed to return; they'll simply find that their homes have been condemned and bulldozed, and the land that hasn't been eminent-domained will be impossibly expensive to rebuild on.

The refugees will not be compensated in fact, though they might be legally. (All the aid you've already received is in return for you title to the land you used to own, sorts of swindle.)

I think they'll be compensated; just compensated in a relative pittance compared to the value of their land to the Disneyland New Orleans gentrifiers.

There will never be an official body count, casualty estimate, or effort to identify the dead. As many of the dead as possible will be gator chow or bulldozed under with a layer of topsoil slapped over them. Attempts to produce casualty totals will be suppressed, as will attempts to provide services to identify the dead.

I still don't believe that the death count will be as high as some think, so I think they won't suppress the body count with mass graves. But I do believe that there will never been autopsy or investigation to discover how many of them drowned in the storm and flooding, and how many died waiting for help.

No one in the administration will ever be indicted, charged, censured, or otherwise held responsible for a deliberate policy of killing as disaster-stricken American citizens as possible.

This one I think we can count on. Michael Brown's reward for one of the most murderous fuckups in American history? 50 billion dollars to distribute to his political pals.

#37 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:27 PM:

Pete --

Homeland Security is Homeland Security. Even for the giant schizophrenic drunken octopus agency, if the boss man in Washington says 'move', there will be movement.

The other thing is that accidents are evenly distributed; if things are falling all the same way, it's the product of effort, not accident. Not necessarily fast, and possibly kinda spasmodic, but there will be movement.

When the Federal Homeland Security won't let stuff in, the State Homeland Security won't let stuff or people or the Red Cross in, when the local cops won't let people out, when no one is reporting casualty figures with any specificity, and when the very top levels of the executive neither treat the disaster as important nor acknowledge any fault in the response, what's being seen isn't solely the results of local accidents or unfortunate ill-preparedness.

At best, it represents a general agreement throughout the executive branch in general and Homeland Security in specific that it is better that the poor die.

The "when it's time" and "act when there is sufficient force in place" statements which have been repeatedly made argue against that sort of general agreement being a sufficient explanation.

#38 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:41 PM:

Some thoughts about identifying the dead: they do not have to be recognizable to be identified. DNA from the dead can be safely stored for a long time and matched to those folks in Houston, Baton Rouge, wherever, who are missing family members. It's not a foolproof system but it works reasonably well. It doesn't work if there's no family member to match DNA to.

I think they will give us a body count, but I don't expect it will be a true count.

Has the spin machine figured out a way to blame Bill Clinton for the demise of FEMA yet?

#39 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:53 PM:

I'm in despair for my country and civil rights because of this man. When he started campaigning the first time, he reminded me of all those young men I hated when I was in college. Mostly fratnernity brothers of privileged backgrounds, they had a firm faith that their daddies could get them out of any trouble they got into, and it didn't matter if anyone else got hurt, no matter what. I thought they were hateful and destructive.

I love my journalist/typesetter that I found in college, because he's so not that. (Now 26 years after marrying him, 28 years after meeting him because I started a SF club there--he showed up at the first meeting!)

#40 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 11:56 PM:

"Has the spin machine figured out a way to blame Bill Clinton for the demise of FEMA yet?"

Why blame Clinton when you have all those poor black people to pick on?

#41 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:05 AM:

They don't want a real body count, they don't wish to face any kind of facts. They're 'Faith-based," remember? Facts don't matter when you KNOW you've got G!D on your side. (and disregard at least 50% of the NewTestament.)

#42 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:45 AM:

Remember how at least horse-whisperer Michael Brown had at some point in his career served as assistant city manager with emergency services oversight for a small town in Oklahoma, so at least he had had some disaster prep experience, howsomever slight?

Not so much, it seems.

#43 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:54 AM:

The telling point in the Americablog post Kip links to is that Michael Brown's early employer said "He was very loyal."

Loyalty uber alles, for the Bush administration, is the winning qualification for employment.


Oh, and just because I think I came up with a good zinger, here's a line I posted to one of Rox Populi's write-your-own-caption posts: "Situation normal? Chertoff, Brown, and Bush? They're about as normal as a calf born with two assholes and no head."

#44 ::: Alex Merz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:17 AM:

Two predictions.

One: if you have a missing relative FEMA will be willing to take a sample of your DNA for comparative identification purposes.

Two: there will be no twilight policy in place for the destruction of DNA samples so obtained, and in fact all such samples will be archived and made available to federal and state law enforcement in perpetuity.

#45 ::: Bill Woods ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:30 AM:

Graydon: Homeland Security is Homeland Security. Even for the giant schizophrenic drunken octopus agency, if the boss man in Washington says 'move', there will be movement.

That may be the way things are organized up north, but not down here:

• Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

• The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.

http://www.redcross.org/faq/
(Emphasis added.)

#46 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:47 AM:

Pete writes: ...The American people simply don't respond well to people who seem demented.

Gee, thanks for the clue, Pete... now if only somebody would explain to me how the Gretna sheriffs could get away with preventing storm refugees from walking across the bridge out of New Orleans by threatening them with gunfire. I can't wait to find out who the "American people" are going to decide are the ones that seem demented there. Probably, the people thinking they had any business arranging their own evacuation by foot rather than waiting for the buses at the Convention Center.

#47 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:34 AM:

Oh, and Michael Brown always wore a starched white shirt...

Great qualifications...

#48 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:00 AM:

Bill Woods --

Yes, the blockade is being maintained by the state guys.

That doesn't mean that the Feds couldn't get them out of the way if they wanted to -- having already invoked the Inserection Act, by threatening to roll tanks if that was what it took -- or that the Homeland Security chain of command doesn't extent to Washington and the feds.

What we're seeing is absolutely no inclination of any sort on the part of your federal government to do anything about that blockade.

Which means that they actively approve of it, because the political benefit to removing it is potentially enormous.

#49 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:11 AM:

Murder Two: Depraved Indifference. That's a plea bargain from his many-counts of premeditated murder.

#50 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 08:18 AM:

And did you hear that stupid whore Barbara Bush saying "I think we're seeing the same footage over and over that isn't necessarily representative of what's really going on" or words very much like that? This is the "same vase over and over" script.

That fucking bitch. She makes Nancy Reagan look like Mother Teresa.

#51 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 09:02 AM:

Graydon, I don't believe that the federal government has, in fact, invoked the Insurrection Act. Some journalists have made loose talk about it, but I don't think that it's actually been done. Nor should it be.

In any case, I think your Canadian origins are leading you astray. Our federal and state governments are wholly separate entities, with their own bureaucracies, their own chains of command, etc. The Louisiana Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is wholly separate from the US Dept. of Homeland Security in Washington, DC. "Homeland Security is Homeland Security" is a false statement. Now, presumably they're supposed to work together, but I've seen precious little evidence of that sort of coordination.

More to the point, you're positing the existence of a conspiracy -- or at least concerted action -- involving the federal government, a state agency in a state with a Democratic governor, the National Guard (again, controlled by the governor) and the Gretna, Louisiana Police Department, all put together in the space of a couple of days. People just aren't that competent.

More to the point, it doesn't even make any sense that they would do that. Suppose we posit the existence of such concerted action. Well, if Bush and his minions could do that, then they could have easily evacuated the whole city in a clean, orderly, efficient, coordinated manner.

If they'd done that, then CNN would have showed up at the Convention Center, only to report "everything going well here. Water is being distributed over there, helicopters are taking those in need of emergency care to hospitals, and buses have been arriving every hour to evacuate the rest. All Hail President Bush and Mike Brown!" Bush's sagging approval ratings would skyrocket to 80%, and he could use the resulting politcal capital to put through his nefarious plans without anybody noticing.

So why, given the capacities which you posit, would he do something that would cause his own political stock to plummet, and make him look like an idiot for appointing guys like Mike
Brown to positions of serious responsibility? Like many of the more overwrought conspiracy theories, yours requires a bizarre mixture of super-competence and utter stupidity.

Besides, if "they" can do that, then we're all fucked anwyay.

#52 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:21 AM:

The info from that Time investigation into Brown's resume was on one of the morning shows this morning, GMA I think. I saw bits of it while getting ready for work.

#53 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 10:54 AM:

Pete,

Two things. One is that if two, or three, or seven entities are all acting toward the same aim, using similar techniques, it doesn't matter whether they're conspiring together or just share motives or a worldview.

The other is that you're assuming that they wanted to save all the people of New Orleans, and as much of the property as possible. There is no evidence for that in their actions--if you wanted to keep New Orleans safe, you'd maintain the levees. If you wanted to keep people safe in a bad situation, you'd have water and food supplies in the pre-designated shelters. If you wanted to minimize loss of life, you'd have sent someone--either the Red Cross or trained government employees such as paramedics or, yes, the National Guard--in with food, water, and basic medical supplies right away. These are the people who took qualified volunteers from all over the country--over a thousand volunteer firefighters--and rather than using them for what they're good at, sent them out with leaflets and a toll-free number for FEMA, and no other information. Which is not a lot of help to a person whose home has been destroyed, who wants to know where to go, and who has no telephone service because of the hurricane.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Another opinion from a respected public figure:

Powell slams hurricane response

The interview should be interesting to watch.

#55 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 11:37 AM:

They're like some kind of delusional self-help cult, or one of those multi-level marketing pyramid schemes where belief and drive and sticking to the program are far more important than actual results.

So the Republicans are actually Scientologists. Both cult and big-money Ponzi scheme.

Or, which is historically more likely, the Ku Klux Klan. These are the descendants of the same authorities who permitted lynchings of blacks, as was posted on this blog some months ago.

Now the storm, and their inaction, did the lynching for them.

I hope that their delusional and criminal system will be exposed and explained to ordinary people by the members of the MSM who are waking up. That people really look at what's behind the party's marketing.


#56 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 12:11 PM:

Vicki, when you say "they," you're talking about multiple "theys," each acting independently, for different reasons.

At first the narrative was simple: the levees weren't maintained because Evil Bushitler cut the budgets. But more recent reports suggest that the overall spending levels were quite sufficient, but tended to go to pork barrel projects rather than flood prevention. This does indeed implicate the Bush administration, but it also implicates the state's congressional delegation and local officials, who controlled at least some of the money which should have gone to levee maintenance.

And "they" didn't allocate funds toward unsexy but useful maintenance and repairs for perfectly reasons perfectly explicable by public choice theory. Catastrophic failures of the levees are relatively rare events, but elections happen like clockwork, every few years. Politicians know that bringing home the bacon is of more immediate utility than putting funds into projects that don't get them elected.

They're not evil people, nor did they want New Orleans to be destroyed. But they responded rationally to the incentive structure of a liberal democracy.

The local officials didn't pre-position supplies (or at least enough supplies) at emergency shelters for the same reason that New Orleans had an absurdly-high murder rate, corrupt police department, and really bad schools. It was one of America's most poorly-governed poor cities.

The state officials kept the Red Cross out for reasons of their own -- they claim it was because they wanted people to leave rather than remaining in the city. Their failure to let Red Cross people in when it became clear that the situation was intolerable was most likely bureaucratic inertia.

The delay in getting either state or federal help to the Superdome and Convention Center was more of the same.

This is very shocking to you if you expect government to do a good job, most of the time. Since I think that "SNAFU" is the default state of most government programs most of the time, I'm not particularly shocked or surprised.

#57 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:13 PM:

sorry if someone's linked to this on another thread -- check out The Onion:

NEW ORLEANS—Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, leading a detachment of 7,500 relief workers, moseyed on down to New Orleans Monday afternoon. "Well, I do declare, it's my job to see if any of these poor folks need any old thing," Brown said from his command rocker on the command post porch, adding, "Mighty hot day, ain't it?"

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:30 PM:

BREAKING NEWS FEMA director Michael Brown being sent back to Washington; Homeland Security Director Chertoff to announce new leader for on-the-ground Katrina relief efforts, senior administration official tells CNN. Details soon.

Another campaign buddy, maybe? Can we get someone who actually has a clue?

#59 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 01:35 PM:

There -won't- be an accurate body count. If past Force 5 storms are any indicator, some of the dead will never be found.

More bad news -- DNA degrades under the conditions the bodies are currently exposed to -- and the longer the bodies decompose the worse the degradation.

My partner, whose degree is in Anthropology, and who reads about anything concerning forensics, reminded me of this last night.

So some folks will end up having to go to court and have their missing loved ones declared legally dead.

And this morning rescuers were discussing the howls and wails from animals trapped in some of the houses. WHY THE HELL DON'T THEY RESCUE THEM!

ah -- sorry about the loss of control -- I think I need to go do something else for a while...

Lori Coulson

#60 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:00 PM:

email from the head of Tulane's hospital, posted at GruntDoc's Blog

"This event is just below a nuclear catastrophe in its degree of magnitude, and it's clear we're not ready and if we don't do better the next time a really hard rain's a-gonna fall."

GruntDoc: Tulane Hospital

A letter that's making the EMS rounds (two quotes):

"our busiest day we off loaded just under 15,000 patients by air and ground"

"i have meet so many people while down here. people who were at ground zero at 9-11, people who have done tusanmi relief, tours in iraq and every one of them has said this is the worst thing they have ever seen. its unaminous and these are some battle worn veterans of every kind of disaster you can imagine."

Full text of letter at blogborygmi.

Blogborygmi has another dispatch from a rapid response team, perhaps based in NY:

"But there are good stories, too. Stories of amazing courage. We took a family off a roof - 4 kids and the mother, and there wasn't going to be room for the father. The woman didn't want to go, wanted to wait until somebody came with a bigger boat. The father whispered in my ear, "Go. Now. ". I looked at him, and he looked at me, both of us knowing that nobody else was probably going to show up. The NO cops talk about the "animals" they're trying to control. But here was this guy, probably one of the bravest guys I've ever seen. He had been on that roof for 4 days, and now he was going to be alone. I hope they're telling those stories on the news."

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:04 PM:

I'd like to think that Brown is being called back to DC because of his job performance, but I suspect it's because of his faked resume. You would think a background check would have caught that (as in normal FBI secret-clearance type check, not top-secret compartmented need-to-know level clearance). It doesn't say much for the Shrub's employment procedures.

#62 ::: Diane ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Here's a report from a doc working on recovery efforts:

I just talked with one of the recovery guys working the Convention Center. "There are hundreds of dead on the second floor of the CC."

Can't wait for the official body count.

#63 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:29 PM:

About a week ago I started saying that Michael Brown shoud just slip out of Louisiana quietly before the Orleans parish DA gets things set up again and gets an indictment against him. I cannot imagine what kind of federal immunity defense he would try and dream up.

I wonder if there is some federal lawyer working on that right now . . .

#64 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 02:42 PM:

Just checked the news, and Brown just got canned. It looks like he is getting out of town as fast as he can:

"I'm anxious to get back to D.C. to correct all the inaccuracies and lies that are being said," Brown said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Asked if the move was a demotion, Brown said: "No. No. I'm still the director of FEMA."

The DA better get that warrant ready fast . . .

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Apparently the "Hurricane Pam" people have just finished their work. The results:

Hurricane Simulation Predicted 61,290 Dead

They seem to be fairly close to what actually happened, although the current "news" from NOLA is saying there are a lot fewer bodies than the expected. That may be true, but the bodies may be out in the swamps or buried in the muck where they have yet to be found.

#66 ::: Peter H ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 02:23 AM:

The state officials kept the Red Cross out for reasons of their own -- they claim it was because they wanted people to leave rather than remaining in the city. Their failure to let Red Cross people in when it became clear that the situation was intolerable was most likely bureaucratic inertia.


According to these reports by CNN and The Times Picayune the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security requested that the Red Cross refrain from entering New Orleans for security reasons, not because it wanted to discourage people from remaining in the city. When you consider how chaotic things were at the Superdome on September 1st(the date that the Red Cross requested permission to go into New Orleans), this explanation seems plausible. By the time it was safe for the Red Cross to go into New Orleans, most people had been evacuated out of New Orleans.

I know the Louisiana state goverment has made some mistakes the past 2 weeks, but I find it hard to believe they would deliberately let people go sick and hungry to discourage them from remaining in emergency shelters. I mean, it was obvious by September 1st that everybody in the Superdome and the Convention Center wanted to get the hell out of there.

This report by the liberal media watchdog Media Matters suggests that the Red Cross has changed its story, and hints this is due to the ties of some Red Cross officers to the Bush Administration. Normally, I don't like to impugn other people's motives, especially when the Red Cross is involved, but it does seem that some of those involved with the Red Cross are spreading misleading accounts.

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 12:10 PM:

U.S. drops banning media from body hunt

CNN sued, and the government decided surrender was a good idea on this point.

#68 ::: Alex Merz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 08:33 PM:

Snark of the week:

[...]
Chertoff flashed impatience when a reporter tried to ask Brown if he would resign and if he would respond to a Time magazine report that he inflated his résumé. "Here are the ground rules: I'm going to answer the questions," Chertoff interrupted. "I've explained what we're doing. I thought I was about as clear as I possibly could be in English as to what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. Next question."

Although Brown was not allowed to answer, he later told an Associated Press reporter in an interview that it was not his idea to go back to Washington. Asked if he was being made a scapegoat, he said: "By the press, yes. By the president, no."

[Emphasis added.]

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2005, 08:44 PM:

The article mentioning Bush calling him 'Brownie' reminds me - what's happened to 'Kenny Boy' Lay? It sounds like, if the Shrub has a polite nickname for you, you will be left for the predators if you are caught in the act. Really nice guy. One-way loyalty.

#70 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 03:05 PM:

Michael Brown has resigned as head of FEMA!

Now let's see what we can do about getting his two stooge-assistant directors out of there too.

After that, we can indict him for murder.

#71 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:20 PM:

Ladies. Gentlemen. Other persuasions.

We now have a precedent.

#72 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:31 PM:

Maybe Brown can turn States Evidence on his boss. And more to his point, his boss's boss.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 07:07 PM:

A disturbing view from inside FEMA
Worker: Decision-makers lack disaster experience

"As Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast three weeks ago, veteran workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency braced for an epic disaster.

But their bosses, political appointees with almost no emergency management experience, didn't seem to share the sense of urgency, a FEMA veteran said.

'We told these fellows that there was a killer hurricane heading right toward New Orleans,' Leo Bosner, a 26-year FEMA employee and union leader told CNN. 'We had done our job, but they didn't do theirs.'

Bosner's storm warning came early Saturday, three days before Hurricane Katrina came ashore in eastern Louisiana."

Unforeseen? They were being told from every direction about what would happen!

#74 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 08:56 PM:

Michael Brown isn't going to be tried for murder:

Sept. 26, 2005 6:44 p.m. (CBS) — CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's response following Hurricane Katrina.

Story here.

#75 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 09:14 PM:

Owing to the henhouse being entirely occupied by foxes, Halliburton has been given a $600 million contract to string chicken wire. The enclosures will be electrified and mined to control the expected chicken-on-chicken violence.

Some of the chickens are to be given work with the FAA, in what is described as "an active role in aircraft safety improvement."

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2005, 09:19 PM:

Some of the chickens are to be given work with the FAA, in what is described as "an active role in aircraft safety improvement."

I think I'll give up airline flight completely. It's probably going to be safer on the highways.
I have heard, though, that people are raising questions about the Katrina contracts. Seems most of them were done no-bid and no-review, even in cases where they were supposed to be both. Halliburton was specifically mentioned in that context.

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