Bush’s Smoldering Trousers

When are people finally going to realize that Bush lies? He doesn’t engage in innocent “white” lies or meaningless fibs to spare people’s feelings – the man prevaricates, dissembles, deceives, lies to achieve his goals and to cover his ass. Even if you don’t believe that he deliberately misled the nation on WMDs and Iraq’s status as an “imminent threat”(and if you are one of these poor, deluded souls, I know some prime real estate in Florida that would interest you), at this point you must admit that there is evidence out there to show categorically that George Walker Bush is a flat-out liar.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of [New Orleans’] levees.” That’s what Bush told reporters – and through them, his constituents – four days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the US Gulf Coast. The Associated Press reports that the day before the hurricane hit, Bush had been warned about the storm’s likely severity – including the strong possibility that the levees would not hold.

On the eve of Hurricane Katrina’s fateful landfall, President Bush was confident. His homeland security chief appeared relaxed. And warnings of the coming destruction – breached or overrun levees, deaths at the New Orleans Superdome and overwhelming needs for post-storm rescues – were delivered in dramatic terms to all involved. All of it was captured on videotape.

The Associated Press obtained the confidential government video and made it public Wednesday, offering Americans their own inside glimpse into the government’s fateful final Katrina preparations after months of fingerpointing and political recriminations.

“My gut tells me … this is a bad one and a big one,” then-federal disaster chief Michael Brown told the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.

The president didn’t ask a single question during the briefing but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: “We are fully prepared.”

Yeah, they were so prepared that it took days for the federal government to respond fully to the crisis. So prepared that four days after Katrina landed, Bush had the audacity to say that no one anticipated that the levee system would fail.

Was Bush told that the levees definitely would not hold? No. On Aug. 28, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center said to an audience that included Bush, “I don’t think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern.” Inarguably, the possibility that the levees would fail was anticipated – and an “engaged” Bush knew it.

This can not be sugarcoated: Four days after Katrina massacred the Gulf Coast, Bush said no one anticipated problems with the levees. Without question, he lied to the press, and by extension, to the millions of Americans he knew were listening to his every word.

Of course, the Bush Administration is doing its best to minimize the damage and downplay the video’s contents.

“I hope people don’t draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing,” Bush spokesman Trent Duffy told the AP. “He received multiple briefings from multiple officials, and he was completely engaged at all times.”

Indeed it would be unfair to draw conclusions from one briefing, but this isn’t about a single briefing. Bush received numerous warnings about the disaster’s potential scope – and about the inability of the levees to withstand a Category Five hurricane.

A Washington Post piece relates the facts regarding another pre-Katrina warning:

A 41-page assessment by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), was delivered by e-mail to the White House’s “situation room,” the nerve center where crises are handled, at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, the day the storm hit, according to an e-mail cover sheet accompanying the document.

The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina’s size would “likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching” and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain.

That same day – again, the day Katrina hit – then-Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown sent Bush and White House aides urgent reports that the city’s levee pumps were failing. Brown reported this to a US Senate panel in early February.

I’m not very impressed by New Orleans Mayor Ray “Chocolate City” Nagin, but I can agree with this statement of his: “I have kind of a sinking feeling right now in my gut. I mean, I was listening to what people were saying and I was believing them that they didn’t know. So therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. … From this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware.”

Including, according to the White House, the Deceiver-in-Chief. Georgie, you’re doing a heck of a job.

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