Beyond FEMA & Michael Brown: The Military Offered Assistance and Was Ignored


I am a bit sick to my stomach right now, taking the train from New York to D.C. and just got off the phone with a retired general and just prior to that one of the more senior military strategists in the country who happens to have deep Southern roots.
Both have been long-term Republicans — and both began denouncing Bush & Co. some time ago, one more publicly than the other.
But what has me sick is that the military had significantly more capacity for airlift and quick deployment on the levee break than has been publicly acknowledged.
Many reports — including those by TWN — had suggested that the Louisiana National Guard was stretched because of Iraq deployments — but the U.S. military was cognizant of the disaster Katrina was brewing and, according to some reports, planned for action.
To my knowledge, and I may just be poorly informed, I have seen very little public commentary about the fact that the White House’s failure was not only a sluggish response on the FEMA front — but also for ignoring assets that were offering themselves as the storm was unleashing its wrath.
FEMA and Michael Brown were not the only players informing the White House that immediate action was needed, apparently a number of senior military officials in the region “offered” immediate assistance, particularly with regard to the levee. I do not know if these appeals for action and offers of assistance by the military were formalized or informal.
However, the particular officers who had concerns about what was unfolding with Katrina felt as if they had no authority to take any kind of action in a domestic humanitarian relief and disaster effort without getting cleared by the White House.
Their concerns make sense to me — but while they waited and watched, and made appeals to the White House through, at minimum, informal channels, many people drowned who did not need to die.
— Steve Clemons