Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Orleans--"THE BIG IFFY"

New stuff is coming out all the time about Katrina and the Federal government's mis-handling of that disaster. Think Progress has an article detailing the latest revelations, namely that FEMA had a very comprehensive plan in placeway before the hurricane hit, but never used it. Key personnel didn't even have copies of the plan. Also, they awarded $2.4 billion in cost plus contracts, which are basically a license for the contractors to steal. Also, the EPA waited 8 months to warn residents of the dangers of exposure to asbestos resulting from the demolition of damaged housing. Here are links to the Think Progress article, the report from CREW (Citizens for Responsibilty and Ethics in Washington) detailing the FEMA plan and what went wrong, and a report from The Center for Public Integrity on the contracts. I'm also including a link to my last post on this freakin' genocide.

Between all of the links, there is enough evidence of incompetence, waste, fraud, and criminal disregard for the people of New Orleans, to bring felony indictments for an awful lot of people, and grounds for mass firings of hundreds more. As you see the way Katrina has been handled, and look at the current dismal conditions in New Orleans, you have to wonder--What if?

What if the Republican Congress hadn't cut the funding from Bill Clinton's budget that was supposed to go to the Corps of Engineers so they could finish rebuilding the levees?
What if the Bush administration hadn't replaced highly trained and competent experts heading various agencies (i.e. FEMA,EPA) with political appointees who had no training or real experience?
What if FEMA had not abandoned the disaster plan they had prepared? If they had even distributed it?
What if FEMA hadn't been folded into the Department of Homeland Security and lost much of its ability to act independently?
What if the executives in those agencies even gave a damn about their responsibilities?
What if FEMA had immediately notified the governments of Louisiana and New Orleans that Katrina had breached the levees, instead of waiting over a full day?
What if FEMA had any idea how to distribute all of the relief supplies that poured into the area?
What if the Federal Government had spent more than of the fraction of aid money they had promised?
What if the contracts that Fema awarded to their well-connected friends actually required accountability and performance?
What if the Federal Goverment had accepted the approx. $800 million in foreign aid offered in the aftermath of Katrina?

The list goes on and on, but my fingers are cramping.There's enough here to give you the idea.
If our government had done one damned thing right, New Orleans inhabitants would have been spared much of the pain and agony they have been forced to endure, and New Orleans would be well on the way to reclaiming its place as on of America's greatest cities.


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