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From India, White House Plays Defense on Katrina teleconference tape

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In New Delhi, the White House puts out a ``fact sheet'' arguing the Aug. 28th Hurricane Katrina videoconference is old news.



Office of the Press Secretary

(New Delhi, India)


For Immediate Release March 2, 2006

Setting The Record Straight:

The August 28th Hurricane Katrina Videoconference

"The President's participation in the August 28 videoconference was open
to the press, and the full transcript of this videoconference was
released to Congress and the public in the fall of 2005. President Bush
participated in briefings, phone calls and conversations throughout this
process, and his Administration was focused on making sure that the
Federal assets were in place to help the people of New Orleans. The
President has made clear - as recently as this Tuesday - that he was not
satisfied with the Federal response. That is why he ordered a
comprehensive 'lessons learned' report and plans to work aggressively to
implement improvements to our disaster response plans by the start of
hurricane season."

- Trent Duffy, White House Deputy Press Secretary, 3/2/06

Setting The Record Straight On August 28th Hurricane Katrina

Democrats Use August 28th Videoconference To Falsely Attack The White
House's Hurricane Katrina Response. "Democrats said the tape shows Bush
being warned in urgent terms of the potential magnitude of the storm,
making it less defensible that the administration did not act with more
dispatch to be ready." (Spencer S. Hsu and Linton Weeks, "Video Shows
Bush Being Warned On Katrina," The Washington Post, 3/2/06)

But The White House Understood The Hurricane Katrina Crisis And Response

* In August 28th Remarks, President Bush Discussed Hurricane
Katrina Preparations. THE PRESIDENT: "This morning I spoke with FEMA
Undersecretary Mike Brown and emergency management teams not only at the
federal level but at the state level about the - Hurricane Katrina. I've
also spoken to Governor Blanco of Louisiana, Governor Barbour of
Mississippi, Governor Bush of Florida, and Governor Riley of Alabama. I
want to thank all the folks at the federal level and the state level and
the local level who have taken this storm seriously. I appreciate the
efforts of the governors to prepare their citizenry for this upcoming
storm. Yesterday, I signed a disaster declaration for the state of
Louisiana, and this morning I signed a disaster declaration for the
state of Mississippi. These declarations will allow federal agencies to
coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials.
We will do everything in our power to help the people in the communities
affected by this storm. Hurricane Katrina is now designated a category
five hurricane. We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses
to Gulf Coast communities. I urge all citizens to put their own safety
and the safety of their families first by moving to safe ground. Please
listen carefully to instructions provided by state and local officials."
(President Bush, Statement By The President On Hurricane Katrina And The
Iraq Constitution, Crawford, TX , 8/28/05)

* In August 29th Videoconference, Former FEMA Director Michael
Brown Said The President Was "Asking A Lot Of Really Good Questions I
Would Expect Him To Ask." BROWN: "The President remains very, very
interested in this situation. ... He's obviously watching the television
a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions
about reports of breaches. He's asking about hospitals. He's very
engaged, and he's asking a lot of really good questions I would expect
him to ask." (Bill Walsh, "The Day Storm Hit, Bush Was Worried About
Levees," The New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/1/06)

* August 29th Videoconference Shows White House Concern About The
Levees. "Later in the call, White House aide Joe Hagin asks
specifically about the condition of the levees." (Bill Walsh, "The Day
Storm Hit, Bush Was Worried About Levees," The New Orleans
Times-Picayune, 3/1/06)

In August 29th Videoconference, The White House Was Told The Levees Were
Not Breached But Knew Of Flooding And Focused On Saving Lives.

* In August 29th Videoconference, Gov. Kathleen Blanco Told The
White House "We Have Not Breached The Levee At This Point In Time."
GOV. BLANCO: "We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is
coming over the levees. ... I think we have not breached the levee. We
have not breached the levee at this point in time. That could change,
but in some places we have floodwaters coming in New Orleans East and
the line at St. Bernard Parish where we have waters that are 8- to
10-feet deep, and we have people swimming in there, that's got a
considerable amount of water." (Bill Walsh, "The Day Storm Hit, Bush
Was Worried About Levees," The New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/1/06)

* Despite Conflicting Reports, The Administration "Knew Of The
Flooding." MCCLELLAN: "There were conflicting reports coming in, in
the initial aftermath of the storm in regards to the levee system. Some
were saying it was overtopped, some were saying it was breached. And,
again, we knew of the flooding that was going on, that's why our top
priority was focused on saving lives. The cause of the flooding was
secondary to that top priority, and that's the way it should be." (The
White House, Press Gaggle, 2/10/06)

* On August 29th, The Coast Guard Was Conducting Search And Rescue
Operations. FOX NEWS' ANITA VOGEL: "Now, earlier the Coast Guard had
to step in or fly in using helicopters. They're searching for residents
who are stranded, people literally stranded in their attics and they're
fetching people from rooftops using baskets, making very dramatic and
heroic rescues and bringing them safely, dropping them onto I-10." (Fox
News' "On The Record With Greta Van Susteren," 8/29/05)

* More Than 40,000 U.S. National Guardsmen And Women Performed
Lifesaving Search And Rescue Operations, Distributed Aid, And Helped
Evacuate Over 175,000 Citizens. THE PRESIDENT: "When Hurricane Katrina
struck the Gulf Coast last year, more than 40,000 Guardsmen and women
rushed to the impact zone - it was the largest stateside deployment in
National Guard history. They conducted search and rescue operations,
distributed food and water, provided emergency medical care, protected
communities from criminality, and worked around the clock to repair
homes and restore power. Guard units from all 50 states, three U.S.
territories, and the District of Columbia provided assistance - and
together, they saved lives and helped evacuate over 175,000 people
stranded by the storm." (President Bush, Remarks On The Global War On
Terror, Washington, DC, 2/9/06)

The President Was Engaged In The Katrina Response And Mobilized Federal

* In The August 28th Videoconference, President Bush Assured State
And Local Leaders The Federal Government Would Offer Continued
Assistance. "'I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are
fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move
in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the
storm,' Bush said, gesturing with both hands for emphasis on the digital
recording." (Spencer S. Hsu and Linton Weeks, "Video Shows Bush Being
Warned On Katrina," The Washington Post, 3/2/06)

* Before The Hurricane Hit, President Bush Called Gov. Blanco To
Urge A Mandatory Evacuation. GOV. BLANCO: "Thank you, Mayor. I want to
reiterate what the mayor has said. This is a very dangerous time. Just
before we walked into this room, President Bush called and told me to
share with all of you that he is very concerned about the citizens. He
is concerned about the impact that this hurricane would have on our
people. And he asked me to please ensure that there would be a mandatory
evacuation of New Orleans." (CNN's "Breaking News," 8/28/05)

* The President's Disaster Declarations Enabled The
Pre-Positioning Of Supplies And Teams. MCCLELLAN: "Well, the ones
yesterday enabled federal authorities really to pre-position supplies
and teams so that they were in close - in full coordination with state
and local partners. Today really allows FEMA now to start drawing down
or using federal funds to get resources to those areas to help with the
response and recovery from this disaster." (The White House, Press
Gaggle, 8/29/05)

* The Federal Government Deployed Medical And Rescue Teams In
Preparation. MCCLELLAN: "The President, this morning, spoke with our
FEMA head, Mike Brown. Mike gave the President an update. Katrina
remains a dangerous storm. We are coordinating closely with state and
local authorities. We continue to urge citizens in those areas to listen
to local authorities. Medical assistance teams and rescue teams have
been deployed, and we're continuing to coordinate all activities very
closely to make sure that the focus is on saving lives. That's where the
top priority is right now, and that's where it will remain." (The White
House, Press Gaggle, 8/29/05)

# # #

1 Comment

Ahh yes, a "fact" sheet. It is true that most of this is old news, but now that theres actually video, Americans can really sink their teeth into the ineptitude of the Bush Administration.

Now we all get to see Chimpy sit there in a lost daze, never asking a single questions about the storm, and of course being warned outright about the very real possibility that the levees would break and that the Superdome would be overcapacitated.

"I don't think anyone anticipated the levees would break" - G W Bush, 2 days after Katrina hit and 3 days after he was told point blank that the levees may break.

Heckuva job, Chimpy!

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Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 2, 2006 2:30 PM.

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