The WaPo has a big piece called in Katrina’s Wake that you should read, complete with the following headline:
Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting: White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials
Within the piece is this:
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. “Quite frankly, if they’d been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,” said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
The hurricane hit Monday morning. The levee broke Monday evening.
And the headline of the story is the ‘White House Shifts Blame.’ Go figure. An enterprising journalist might examine when Lt. Gen. Honore was dispatched, and what unit and where the convoy that reached the Superdome came from and when they were dispatched.
When the final story is written, and all the facts are known about this catastrophe, the reflexive Bush haters are going to be less gleeful than they are right now. And yes, I know. I am horribly politicizing this event by quoting parts of this story, so spare me the righteous idignation in the comments.
*** Update ***
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco doesn’t want the buck to stop in her office, either. “We don’t get into the blame game,” Blanco said. “We just work with what we got.” As the state’s chief executive, she could have had fleets of buses ready to evacuate a clearly vulnerable population, temporary shelters identified outside the city and emergency supplies at the ready. So there’s a good reason Blanco doesn’t want to assign blame; she would be pointing at herself.
And for all the people taking contention with the Saturday declaration, they are talking about Saturday a week ago. What is shocking is the fact that it took until Wednesday to ask for the compact. I was in the National Guard. I know how these call-ups work. It takes a little bit of time to get your unit together, and shipped off to the location in need.
*** Update #2 ***
Not that it will stop the ‘Bush is to blame’ orgy for this cock-up at all levels, there is this:
Contact:Denise Bottcher or Roderick Hawkins at 225-342-9037
Governor Blanco Announces Executive Order
Baton Rouge, LA— Governor Blanco today announced the following Executive Order:
Executive Order NO. KBB 2005- 31- provides that pursuant to the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., grants emergency powers to the governor, where, she has in consultation with school superintendents, utilized public school buses for transportation of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. As you are aware most public school districts will not begin school until Tuesday, September 6th 2005.