Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La: But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Two key U.S. senators said on Friday they will launch a bipartisan coverup of what they described as an "immense, but probably unavoidable failure" of the government response to Hurricane Katrina.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who heads the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the panel's other top-ranking Republican, said they hope to shift as much blame as possible to lower-ranking officials and career federal employees -- ideally at an obscure government agency that few Americans have ever heard of."
In keeping with recent congressional practice, we will try to shield the president and the senior members of his administration from directly responsibility for this fiasco, although a few token resignations may be required this time around," the pair said in a joint statement. "Our primary focus, however, will be on figuring out how to throw billions of dollars in additional funding to the very same agencies that failed so spectacularly this past week."
Bill Wattenburg said that he has lobbied the administration and the military to immediately begin [a food drop program as was done in Afghanistan, Bosnia and in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami.] He said he was told that the military was prepared to begin, but that it was awaiting a request from FEMA. "We know very well how to do this, and it's just incomprehensible that we're not," Wattenburg said.
Nine stockpiles of fire-and-rescue equipment strategically placed around the country to be used in the event of a catastrophe still have not been pressed into service in New Orleans, five days after Hurricane Katrina, CNN has learned. Responding to a CNN inquiry, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Marc Short said Friday the gear has not been moved because none of the governors in the hurricane-ravaged area has requested it.
A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck.
City personnel are willing to operate self-sufficiently and would not depend on local authorities for food, water, shelter and other supplies, he said.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.
Access 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.
Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control. "I just took the bus and drove all the way here...seven hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus." The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there.
Authorities eventually allowed the renegade passengers inside the dome. But the 18-year-old who ensured their safety could find himself in a world of trouble for stealing the school bus.
"I dont care if I get blamed for it," Gibson said, "as long as I saved my people."
They then specifically asked the DWF agent that they (and other citizens in the flotillia) be allowed to go to the hospitals and help evacuate the sick and the doctors and nurses stranded there. They offered to bring these people back to Lafayette, in our own vehicles, in order to ensure that they received proper and prompt medical care.
The DWF agent did not want to hear this and ordered them home -- ALL FIVE HUNDRED BOATS. They complied with the DWF agent's orders, turned around and headed back to Lafayette along with half of the flotillia. However, two friends were pulling a smaller 15ft alumaweld with a 25 hp. The DWF agents let them through to proceed to the rescue operation launch site.
Leroy Fouchea, [...] then offered to show reporters the dead bodies of a man in a wheelchair, a young man who he said he dragged inside just hours earlier, and the limp forms of two infants, one just four months old, the other six months old. [...] "They died right here, in America, waiting for food," Fouchea said as he walked toward Hall D, where the bodies were put to get them out of the searing heat.
A National Guardsman refused entry.
"It doesn't need to be seen, it's a make-shift morgue in there," he told a Reuters photographer. "We're not letting anyone in there anymore. If you want to take pictures of dead bodies, go to Iraq."
Laura Brown, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman in Washington, said she had no such report. "We're controlling every single aircraft in that airspace and none of them reported being fired on," she said, adding that the FAA was in contact with the military as well as civilian aircraft.
According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy Grishamn, a spokesman for the amphibious assault ship Bataan, the vessel kept its helicopters at sea Thursday night after several military helicopters reported being shot at from the ground.
[ They go on to describe it as an "insurgency"! What the fuck! ]
Halliburton hired for storm cleanup. So at least there's that.