Simple Incompetence? Ethnic Cleansing? Some Of Each?
Regardless, It's Another Trough-Fest For Halliburton, Of Course!
By Winter Patriot on 9/8/2005, 7:28pm PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

In the past few days I have seen an amazing number of reports indicating that, in the wake of Katrina, things are not as they seem. On the surface, they seem awful. But behind the curtain they may well be much worse.

What else is new?

In this post I will share a few of those articles with you; if you have seen similar reports and wish to share them, please do so.

The reports that caught my eye seem to fall into three more-or-less related categories. For want of better terminology, let's call the categories "Secrecy", "Incompetence", and "Vague Suspicions".

Secrecy

The constant demand for secrecy is hardly surprising, given the track record of the current administration. No other administration in American history has spent so much money classifying so many documents, and even taking previously unclassified information out of the public domain.

Federal Government Secrecy at All Time High

Facing a severe budget deficit, the United States federal government last year spent a record amount of money keeping information from the public, according a recently released report conducted by a coalition of civil liberties and open-government advocacy groups.

In total, Washington spent at least $7.2 billion classifying records in 2004. The amount does not reflect spending by the Central Intelligence Agency.

In comparison, the 41 agencies studied spent only $1 declassifying records for every $148 spent keeping them out of reach, the OpentheGovernment.org report concluded. The year before, the government spent $120 to classify documents for every $1 spent making others publicly accessible. According to the compiled records, it cost taxpayers $460 to maintain each classified document last year.

And of course, this makes us wonder what's being hidden.

In the aftermath of Katrina, photographers are not being allowed on the scene, journalists are being hassled, intimidated, roughed up, and in at least one case, apparently, targeted.

Photojournalists Covering Katrina Fall Victim To Growing Violence, Chaos

Two veteran photojournalists - NPPA member Rick Wilking of Reuters and Getty's Mark Wilson - were robbed of cameras and computer equipment today while on assignment in a neighborhood in New Orleans, and a photojournalist and a reporter were confronted at gunpoint and slammed against a wall by police following a shoot-out between looters and cops that left at least one person dead.

Another photojournalist - Lucas Oleniuk of the Toronto Star - was knocked to the ground by police, his gear taken from him initially, when he photographed them shooting at looters and then beating one. In response to the growing violence and an increasing sense of despair among the stranded survivors, some television networks have hired armed private security firms to protect their journalists as they work to cover the story.

Brian Williams of MSNBC: Making the Quarter rounds

An interesting dynamic is taking shape in this city, not altogether positive: after days of rampant lawlessness (making for what I think most would agree was an impossible job for the New Orleans Police Department during those first few crucial days of rising water, pitch-black nights and looting of stores) the city has now reached a near-saturation level of military and law enforcement. In the areas we visited, the red berets of the 82nd Airborne are visible on just about every block. National Guard soldiers are ubiquitous. At one fire scene, I counted law enforcement personnel (who I presume were on hand to guarantee the safety of the firefighters) from four separate jurisdictions, as far away as Connecticut and Illinois. And tempers are getting hot. While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of Guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States.

At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.

Meanwhile, FEMA is asking that no one publish pictures of bodies.

FEMA Wants No Photos of Dead

The U.S. agency leading Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts said Tuesday that it does not want the news media to photograph the dead as they are recovered.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, heavily criticized for its slow response to the devastation caused by the hurricane, rejected journalists' requests to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims.

U.S. agency blocks photos of New Orleans dead

"We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry.

The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.

Incompetence

The tales of Incompetence are so startling, it's almost unfathomable:

Navy Pilots Who Rescued Victims Are Reprimanded

Two Navy helicopter pilots and their crews returned from New Orleans on Aug. 30 expecting to be greeted as lifesavers after ferrying more than 100 hurricane victims to safety.

Instead, their superiors chided the pilots, Lt. David Shand and Lt. Matt Udkow, at a meeting the next morning for rescuing civilians when their assignment that day had been to deliver food and water to military installations along the Gulf Coast.

Crew of Navy ship ready to play larger role in relief effort

While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underutilized and waiting for a larger role in the effort.

The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch U.S. Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It can also make its own water - up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore.

The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents.

But today the Bataan's hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty. A good share of its 1,200 sailors could also go ashore to help with the relief effort, but they haven't been asked. The Bataan has been in the stricken region the longest of any military unit, but federal authorities have yet to fully utilize the ship.

Guardsmen 'played cards' amid New Orleans chaos: police official

A top New Orleans police officer said that National Guard troops sat around playing cards while people died in the stricken city after Hurricane Katrina.
...
"We expected a lot more support from the federal government. We expected the government to respond within 24 hours. The first three days we had no assistance," he told AFP in an interview.

Had enough yet? BenFrank.net has an archive of reports detailing unbelievable negligence...

Beyond Incompetence

Reading the news after the Katrina Hurricane and the lack-of-response disaster, a pattern began to emerge.
...
Airboaters stalled by FEMA
...
A "floatilla of aid" TURNED BACK from New Orleans
...
Fearing riots, Guard rejects food airdrops
...
Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food
...
US won't let Canada help Katrina victims
...
On BBC: Northern Command was in position, waiting for Presidential orders
...
Confirmation of BBC report: Navy Ship still unused 6 Days after Katrina!
...
Daley 'shocked' as feds reject aid
...
Virgina Team turned away- others efforts wasted
...
FEMA prevents water, fuel delivery- cuts communication lines!
...
Paperwork from DC late to arrive- prevents National Guard from helping
...
Guardsmen 'played cards' amid New Orleans chaos: police official
...
FEMA Chief Brown caught in a LIE.
...
Who's Responsible?
Bush reorganized the government specifically to give the Feds more power in an emergency.

Bush’s Criminal Ignorance: "I don't think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees."

How could we possibly have so much negligence? ... unless it's not 'negligence' at all ... unless the 'incompetence' is deliberate, in which case all these reports begin to make sense...

FEMA Deliberately Sabotaging Hurricane Relief Efforts

Numerous credible sources have come forward with examples of how the Federal Emergency Management Agency is deliberately sabotaging Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans. This represents a ruthless attempt on the part of FEMA to impose a federal takeover of the area for their own benefit amid a tragedy that has already claimed anything up to 10,000 lives.

The mainstream media has picked up on this story but is whitewashing it as just another 'failure' of the federal government in dealing with the crisis.
...
The mission of FEMA has never in reality been to bring people food and water and help in times of crisis. Alex Jones has attended numerous FEMA drills where the whole point of the exercise is to round people up, break up families and institute a brutal police state crackdown.

FEMA need to create a chaotic atmosphere in New Orleans so they can legitimize what they are doing.

We now have multiple reports of police being ordered to guard key infrastructures in order to defend them from FEMA federal agents. Sheriffs in numerous different counties are guarding highways to keep FEMA out. FEMA is being treated as the enemy because they are sabotaging key facilities in an effort to intentionally worsen the already desperate scenes of horror in New Orleans.

Vague Suspicions

I've had a very sick feeling, full of vague suspicions, ever since the beginning of last week, but I haven't been able to put my finger on anything. Prior to today, the best analysis I'd found was from Kurt Nimmo.

Criminal Plot Underway in the New Orleans Swamp

It is mighty suspicious the New Orleans "refugees" (as the corporate media call the Americans removed from the disease-ridden swamp left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) are being relocated far and wide. Most of them will probably never return and will end up in ghettoes in Baton Rouge, Houston, and elsewhere (it appears Baton Rouge is being groomed as an expansive slum, since the rebuilt New Orleans will be a casino and tourist destination with time-share condos and luxury housing). It should be noted that the usual suspects will "remove debris" and supposedly "restore electric power" and "repair roofs" (an absurd declaration, considering many if not most of the homes in the New Orleans swamp will be condemned). "The Navy has hired Houston-based Halliburton Co.," the Houston Chronicle reported on September 1, well before the current effort to "rescue" and "evacuate" those not killed outright during the storm and afterwards, as Bush was on vacation and FEMA twiddled its thumbs, allowing as many residents as possible to die before people who actually have a conscience and are not neoliberal sociopaths began to scream and demand Bush be impeached for criminal negligence. "Halliburton subsidiary KBR will also perform damage assessments at other naval installations in New Orleans as soon as it is safe to do so," that is to say after the "refugees" have been relocated in distant slums. "FEMA privatized hurricane disaster recovery planning for New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana. The firms that received the contract are big GOP contributors," writes Wayne Madsen. For some reason I am not surprised.

The piece quoted above was written five days ago, and some readers may have found it disgusting. Not all, though. Not by any means. This was made abundantly clear in an article posted today at Raw Story in which John Byrne quotes Christopher Cooper of the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ: White rich elude Orleans chaos, don't want poor blacks back

The power elite of New Orleans --- whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. --- insist the remade city won't simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."

I could go on and on and on ... and I often do. But this is enough, I think. Enough quotes, enough links, enough counterspin, enough outrage. Read 'em and weep. Or better yet, read 'em and think. Read 'em and do something.

Stand up for your country before it's too late. If it's not too late already.

Or better yet, Decide that it's not too late! Stand up for your country! and Do something!

Did somebody say "Impeach Bush"?