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Anatomy of a Disaster

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Tempest
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« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2007, 11:44:43 pm »

Firms with Bush-Cheney ties clinching Katrina deals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration´s first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Joe Allbaugh, seen here working on the Bush 2000 campaign, has at least two corporate clients with Katrina deals.

By Paul Whyte, USA TODAY file

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President Bush´s former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.

One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

Bechtel National Inc., a unit of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel´s CEO to his Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Experts say it has been common practice in both Republican and Democratic administrations for policy makers to take lobbying jobs once they leave office, and many of the same companies seeking contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have already received billions of dollars for work in Iraq.

Halliburton alone has earned more than $9 billion. Pentagon audits released by Democrats in June showed $1.03 billion in "questioned" costs and $422 million in "unsupported" costs for Halliburton´s work in Iraq.

But the web of Bush administration connections is attracting renewed attention from watchdog groups in the post-Katrina reconstruction rush. Congress has already appropriated more than $60 billion in emergency funding as a down payment on recovery efforts projected to cost well over $100 billion.

"The government has got to stop stacking senior positions with people who are repeatedly cashing in on the public trust in order to further private commercial interests," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.

Allbaugh formally registered as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root in February.

In lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Senate, Allbaugh said his goal was to "educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues affecting Kellogg Brown and Root."

Melissa Norcross, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said Allbaugh has not, since he was hired, "consulted on any specific contracts that the company is considering pursuing, nor has he been tasked by the company with any lobbying responsibilities."

Allbaugh is also a friend of Michael Brown, director of FEMA who was removed as head of Katrina disaster relief and sent back to Washington amid allegations he had padded his resume.

A few months after Allbaugh was hired by Halliburton, the company retained another high-level Bush appointee, Kirk Van Tine.

Van Tine registered as a lobbyist for Halliburton six months after resigning as deputy transportation secretary, a position he held from December 2003 to December 2004.

On Friday, Kellogg Brown & Root received $29.8 million in Pentagon contracts to begin rebuilding Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi. Norcross said the work was covered under a contract that the company negotiated before Allbaugh was hired.

Halliburton continues to be a source of income for Cheney, who served as its chief executive officer from 1995 until 2000 when he joined the Republican ticket for the White House. According to tax filings released in April, Cheney´s income included $194,852 in deferred pay from the company, which has also won billion-dollar government contracts in Iraq.

Cheney´s office said the amount of deferred compensation is fixed and is not affected by Halliburton´s current economic performance or earnings.

Allbaugh´s other major client, Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, has updated its Web site to say: "Hurricane Recovery Projects — Apply Here!"

Shaw said on Thursday it has received a $100 million emergency FEMA contract for housing management and construction. Shaw also clinched a $100 million order on Friday from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Shaw Group spokesman Chris Sammons said Allbaugh was providing the company with "general consulting on business matters," and would not say whether he played a direct role in any of the Katrina deals. "We don´t comment on specific consulting activities," he said.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-09-10-katrina-contracts_x.htm

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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2007, 11:48:24 pm »

President's Approval Rating Dips Below 40
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
Sat Sep 10, 8:37 AM ET




WASHINGTON - President Bush's job approval has dipped below 40 percent for the first time in the AP-Ipsos poll, reflecting widespread doubts about his handling of gasoline prices and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Nearly four years after Bush's job approval soared into the 80s after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Bush was at 39 percent job approval in an AP-Ipsos poll taken this week. That's the lowest since the the poll was started in December 2003.

The public's view of the nation's direction has grown increasingly negative as well, with nearly two-thirds now saying the country is heading down the wrong track.

"As a nation, we are pretty well stretched," said Barry Allen, a political independent from Reed City, Mich. "I approve of some of the things the president has done, and disapprove of others. Overall, I disapprove."

Allen said he liked some of Bush's economic steps during his first term but has been dissatisfied with the president's economic moves in his second term, his Iraq policy and his handling of gasoline prices.

Allen worries Hurricane Katrina has taken the wind out of an economy that was moving in the right direction.

With gasoline racing past $3 a gallon, Bush's standing on dealing with those prices may be one of his biggest problems — seven in 10 said they disapprove.

And just over half in the poll, 52 percent, said they disapprove of the president's handling of the hurricane.

For Bill Kane of Kingsland, Ga., the government's slow response to the hurricane "was terrifying to see in our own country. It made you mad, because it made you think where's our money going?"

More evidence of problems with the storm response surfaced Friday when the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would discontinue a 2-day-old program to issue debit cards worth to displaced families.

The administration also dumped FEMA Director Michael Brown, who had come to symbolize the stumbling early days of the hurricane response, as commander of Katrina relief efforts.

Brown once served as the judges and stewards commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association. 

"Bush puts people in jobs who don't know what they're doing," said Shirley Carignan, a retiree and a political independent from Weymouth, Mass. "I think he's picking friends for these jobs. My girlfriend raises Arabians. You know horses, so what? Horses and people are different things."

The number of people who think the country is on the wrong track grew from 59 percent last month to 65 percent this month. Tumbling consumer confidence after Hurricane Katrina may be contributing to that sense of pessimism.

The RBC CASH Index, based on polling by Ipsos, showed that consumer confidence sank in September to the lowest level since early March 2003 before the start of the Iraq war.

Economic woes and a continuing war in Iraq have been complicated by the continuing hurricane recovery crisis.

"A lot of Americans don't pay attention to their leaders on a day-to-day basis," said Robert Blendon, a public opinion analyst at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "They measure presidents, governors and mayors on how they handle big events like a hurricane. This event is not over because the bodies are going to be discovered day by day."

___

On the Net:

Ipsos: http://www.ap-ipsosresults.com

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050910/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_ap_poll
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2007, 11:51:10 pm »




Nonpartisan congressional research report finds Louisiana governor took necessary steps
John Byrne



The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report Tuesday afternoon asserting that Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco took the necessary and timely steps needed to secure disaster relief from the federal government, RAW STORY has learned.

The report, which comes after a request by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to review the law and legal accountability relating to Federal action in response to Hurricane Katrina, unequivocally concludes that she did.

"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration's attempts to evade accountability," Conyers said in a statement. "The Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."

The report found that:

All necessary conditions for federal relief were met on August 28. Pursuant to Section 502 of the Stafford Act, "[t]he declaration of an emergency by the President makes Federal emergency assistance available," and the President made such a declaration on August 28. The public record indicates that several additional days passed before such assistance was actually made available to the State;

The Governor must make a timely request for such assistance, which meets the requirements of federal law. The report states that "[e]xcept to the extent that an emergency involves primarily Federal interests, both declarations of major disaster and declarations of emergency must be triggered by a request to the President from the Governor of the affected state";

The Governor did indeed make such a request, which was both timely and in compliance with federal law. The report finds that "Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco requested by letter dated August 27, 2005...that the President declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period from August 26, 2005 and continuing pursuant to [applicable Federal statute]" and "Governor Blanco's August 27,2005 request for an emergency declaration also included her determination...that 'the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of disaster."

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Nonpartisan_congressional_research_report_finds_Louisiana_governor_took_nece_0913.html
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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2007, 11:53:44 pm »


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Right-Wing Myths About Katrina, Debunked
There are a lot of right-wing myths about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. ThinkProgress has created this guide to help you set the record straight.

CLAIM — STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS WERE MOSTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR FAILURES: “White House Shifts Blame to State and Local Officials” [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

FACT – BUSH PUT FEMA IN CHARGE OF EFFORT BEFORE KATRINA STRUCK: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” [White House, 8/27/05]

FACT — FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ABLE TO ACT WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM STATES: The Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Chertoff activated the National Response Plan last Tuesday by declaring the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina an ‘Incident of National Significance.’ The plan, which was rolled out to much fanfare in January, essentially enables Washington to move federal assets to the disaster without waiting for requests from state officials.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/13/05]

CLAIM — NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED BREACHED LEVEES: On ABC’s Good Morning America, Bush said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Good Morning America, 9/1/05]

FACT — LEVEE BREACH PREDICTED REPEATEDLY: Responding to Bush’s comments on Meet the Press, Dr. Ivor Van Heerden of the LSU Hurricane Center “I didn’t buy that because, you know, we had discussed on numerous occasions that a worst-case scenario would be if we had one of these major hurricanes and then we lost the levee systems.” A White House advisor sat in on the “Hurricane Pam Exercise,” a computer simulation of the possible effects of a Category 3 hurricane on New Orleans. The exercise found that “…a storm like Hurricane Pam would: cause flooding that would leave 300,000 people trapped in New Orleans, many of whom would not have private transportation for evacuation.” [Meet the Press, 9/11/05]

CLAIM — GOV. BLANCO DELAYED STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARATION: In a Sept. 4 Washington Post article, which was corrected hours later, an anonymous Bush administration source claimed Governor Blanco had not yet declared a state of emergency in Louisiana. The Post reported, “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.” [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

FACT — GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA ON AUGUST 26: Three days prior to when Katrina made landfall. [Office of the Governor, 8/26/05]

CLAIM — GOVERNORS WANTED FEMA TO BE WEAK: Brit Hume: “FEMA, first of all, is not a first responder. FEMA is basically a tiny little agency that has been kept weak. And you know why it’s been kept weak? The governors want it that way.” [Fox News Sunday, 9/11/05]

FACT — STATE OFFICIAL COMPLAINED ABOUT WEAKENING OF FEMA UNDER BUSH: “State and local disaster-relief officials have been complaining about the lack of federal involvement in emergency response for some time. Trina Sheets, the executive director of the National Emergency Management Association, which represents local emergency personnel, told Salon that “since the Department of Homeland Security was established there has been a steady degradation of the capabilities.” [Salon, 9/7/05]

CLAIM — RESIDENTS WHO REMAINED IN NEW ORLEANS ARE TO BLAME FOR NOT EVACUATING: Sen. Rick Santorum said, “I mean, you have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.” [Associated Press, 9/6/05]

FACT — MOST RESIDENTS WHO REMAINED COULDN’T AFFORD TO LEAVE: New York Times: “The victims, they note, were largely black and poor, those who toiled in the background of the tourist havens, living in tumbledown neighborhoods that were long known to be vulnerable to disaster if the levees failed. Without so much as a car or bus fare to escape ahead of time, they found themselves left behind by a failure to plan for their rescue should the dreaded day ever arrive.” [New York Times, 9/2/05]

CLAIM — BUSH “STRUCK THE RIGHT BALANCE” BETWEEN HIRING POLITICAL CRONIES AND EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS: Vice President Cheney said Bush had “struck the right balance between political appointees and career professionals to oversee the relief efforts.” [AP, 9/8/05]

FACT — MOST TOP FEMA OFFICIALS WERE POLITICAL HACKS: “Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters.” [Washington Post, 9/9/05]

CLAIM — MAYOR NAGIN LEFT 2,000 SCHOOL BUSES BEHIND IN THE FLOOD: Sean Hannity said, “You would have thought that the 2,000 buses, school buses, that sat in the yards would have been used to help those people that were incapable of getting out on their own, but none of that had happened locally.” [Hannity and Colmes, 9/6/05]

FACT — NEW ORLEANS HAD LESS THAN 300 WORKING SCHOOL BUSES: “The [Orleans Parish school] district owns 324 buses but 70 are broken down.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9/5/05]

CLAIM: LOCAL OFFICIALS DESERVE BLAME FOR LACK OF EVACUATION BUSES : Rick Santorum claimed, “Many didn’t have cars … And that really was a failure on the part of local officials in not making transportation available to get people out.” [Times Leader, 9/6/05]

FACT: LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD REQUESTED 700 BUSES FROM FEMA FOR EVACUATIONS, FEMA ONLY SENT 100: The Boston Globe reported, “On Sunday, the day before the storm, the Louisiana National Guard asked FEMA for 700 buses to evacuate people. It received only 100.” [Boston Globe, 9/11/05]

CLAIM — MILITARY NOT STRETCHED THIN BY IRAQ: President Bush said, “We’ve got plenty of troops to do both. Let me just — let me just talk about that again. I’ve answered this question before, and you can speak to General Honore if you care to. He’s the military man on the ground. It is preposterous to claim that the engagement in Iraq meant there wasn’t enough troops here, just pure and simple.” [White House, 9/12/05]

FACT — MILITARY LEADERS SAY IRAQ HAMPERED THEIR EFFORTS AFTER KATRINA: National Guard Chief Lt. Gen. Steven Blum said, “Had that (Mississippi and Louisiana) brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear.” The Washington Post reported “In Louisiana and Mississippi, civilian and military leaders said the response to the hurricane was delayed by the absence of the Mississippi National Guard’s 155th Infantry Brigade and Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade, each with thousands of troops in Iraq.” [AP, 9/10/05, Washington Post, 9/10/05]

CLAIM: NEWSPAPERS REPORTED NEW ORLEANS HAD BEEN SPARED SIGNIFICANT HURRICANE DAMAGE: Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said, “I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, ‘New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.’” [Meet the Press, 9/4/05]

FACT: HEADLINES ACROSS THE COUNTRY ANNOUNCED “CATASTROPHIC” DAMAGE TO NEW ORLEANS: The Tuesday, August 30th edition of the Times-Picayune led with a banner headline reading, “CATASTROPHIC: Storm Surge Swamps 9th Ward, St. Bernard; Lakeview Levee Breach Threatens to Inundate City.” Dozens of other major newspapers led with headlines describing Katrina’s horrifying aftermath. [Times-Picayune, 8/30/05; Newseum via Wonkette]

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/13/katrina-myths-debunked/
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