Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Hidden Agenda?

The Washington Post had a lengthy article on the governmental disaster that followed the natural disaster which befell New Orleans and the Gulf Coast last week.

Some have interpreted the article as being slanted toward the Administration's position that they couldn't do anything because they were not asked for assistance in time, and then didn't get the cooperation of the state and local governments.

Others have interpreted the article as being a backhanded slam against the Administration for rather clumsily trying to pin the tragedy on the victims.

That all of the federal agencies are dancing and scrambling to pin the blame on others, anyone, even the victims, is clear. Fortunately, enough in the blog world and even (gasp!)the mainstream media have shown such maneuvering for what it is, blatant avoidance of responsibility. Yes, mistakes were made at the state and local level, primarily because the assets required to move people out, to shelter those who wouldn't/couldn't evacuate, and to impose order during an impossible situation just weren't there. However, the federal government knew at least by August 27 when Governor Blanco filed the proper papers with FEMA that a disaster was looming and nothing was done for five days (and counting).

The article is lengthy, but one part early in the piece struck me as quite unusual:

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.
[Emphasis added]

I found that absolutely chilling for two reasons. The first reason was shared by one of my favorite erudite posters at Eschaton, GWPDA. The federal takeover of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with its enormous oil refinery and shipping capacities would give this administration enormous power over import/export and energy facilities. In other words, BushCo would have absolute control over two of the main engines driving this economy.

The second reason I was so shaken by this news is that it seems to presage the federal response to any troublesome event: a militarization that would send active duty troops (Posse Comitatus be damned, we have the Insurrection Act)to "keep order." I am not ready to live in a nation governed by military force.

I know, I sound like I've wound the tinfoil hat too tightly this morning, but I believe I have good reason. The President vacationed while intelligence screamed about an impending terrorist attack. He lied us into a misbegotten war, and then botched its execution. Most recently, he ignored the warning of a Category 4-5 hurrican poised to strike the US until after it hit. Thousands of Americans have died on his watch. And it's never his fault. I'm worried.


Blogger phinky said...

And that is why he should be impeached.

1:27 PM  

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