FEMA Leaders Lacking Disaster
By Spencer S.
FEMA's top three leaders -- Director Michael D. Brown,
Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D.
Altshuler -- arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the
White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior
operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of
Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political
No Gas, No Food, No Lodging
Hurricane Victims Get a Taste of Life
in Occupied Iraq
By Ted Rall
No Gas, No Food, No
Hurricane Victims Get a Taste of Life
in Occupied Iraq
By Ted Rall
09/08/05 "ICH" -- -- SAN FRANCISCO--Taps run
dry. Food rots when the power goes out. Toilets overflow with waste.
Looters strip homes, businesses and public buildings. Armed bandits run
wild in the streets. Fires rage out of control. Terrified policemen
abandon their posts. Flies buzz over bloated corpses. People wave signs at
passing helicopters. "Please help us," they read.
"Help is on the way," their head of state
assures them. But the government sends soldiers instead of relief workers.
The troops treat the victims, who are taxpayers and citizens, as if they
were prisoners. Aiming weapons at the sick and dying, they herd thousands
into sports arenas where they receive neither water, nor food, nor safe
harbor. While indifferent soldiers man checkpoints to prevent the
detainees from leaving, babies starve, the elderly die from lack of
medicine and children are raped and murdered. They set up checkpoints to
prevent anyone from leaving.
Reuters reports from inside a
"Sitting with her daughter and other relatives,
Trolkyn Joseph, 37, said men had wandered the cavernous convention center
in recent nights raping and murdering children. She said she found a dead
14-year old girl at 5 a.m. on Friday morning, four hours after the young
girl went missing from her parents inside the convention center. 'She was
raped for four hours until she was dead,' Joseph said through tears.
'Another child, a seven-year old boy was found raped and murdered in the
kitchen freezer last night.'"
The horror of the aftermath is so extreme that
it nearly erases the memory of the initial disaster.
Water, food, housing, electricity: in the
modern era, society collapses without them. However, as I found while
reporting on the invasion of Afghanistan, they are not equally
I was surprised to discover that I hardly
missed food. On the other hand, thirst turns people mean within hours.
Water, orange cola and a rusty case of mid-'90s Qatari Pepsi got me
through for over a week. The lack of electricity, conversely, proved
inconvenient in unexpected ways. Laptops and even satellite
phones--essential technology whether writing from a war zone or organizing
rescue operations in a flooded American city--rely on rechargeable
batteries. Generators are expensive and cumbersome, and they run on gas.
But without electricity you can't pump out the fuel.
Shelter took a back seat to hygiene. Absent
rain (a safe bet in Afghanistan), I would have picked a hot shower over
housing. That had to go double for the newly homeless who have been wading
through filthy floodwaters in New Orleans. Whether for drinking or
bathing, clean water comes first.
American politicians and bureaucrats neither
know life without the basics nor talk to those who do, which is why they
failed to respond coherently to the humanitarian crisis caused by
Hurricane Katrina. Airlifting bottled water ought to have been FEMA's
first priority. Refugee centers ought to have featured rows of portable
showers. It is inexcusable that hospitals weren't outfitted with backup
generators and fuel reserves to run them. Police, firefighters and other
first-responders ought to be equipped with satellite phones powered by
Of course, the government's biggest mistake was
its decision to privatize the evacuation. Those who owned cars fled.
100,000 poor people, who ride New Orleans' streetcar system, were left
behind to die. Greyhound's nearly 2,000 buses could have gotten them all
out--but commandeering private property is the act of a civilized nation,
not the leaner, meaner, tough-break United States. Similarly, storeowners
should have distributed water and other emergency supplies under a FEMA
guarantee of reimbursement.
It only took a few days for New Orleans to
descend into anarchy, for the survivors of Katrina to lose hope, for
disgusted Americans to conclude that their leaders are too staggeringly
stupid, incompetent and uncaring to protect them from bad weather, much
less a terrorist attack. Now think about this: the citizens of cities
under U.S. occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan have been suffering under
similar conditions, exacerbated by an identical lack of planning by the
same U.S. officials, for nearly 900 days. New Orleans is Baghdad plus
water minus two and a half years.
Still wondering why they hate us?
Ted Rall, is America's hardest-hitting
editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, is an award-winning
commentator who also works as an illustrator, columnist, and radio
commentator. Visit his website http://www.tedrall.com/
Why America can't
There are deeper explanations for
the New Orleans catastrophe than anyone has dared suggest. The roots lie
in America's deluded self-image
While Vice-President Cheney was fly-fishing in Wyoming.
Condoleezza Rice, next in charge, was shopping for shoes at Ferragamo's
and watching Spamalot on Broadway and catching the US Open in New York;
while Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, who is supposed to keep
it all together, was taking in the sea breeze with much of the rest of the
Bush crowd in Maine. Continue
Reliable Is Brown's Resume?: A TIME investigation reveals
discrepancies in the FEMA chief's official biographies
Is This a civilized society? : What kind of country leaves the bodies of its
citizens to rot in the streets? -WARNING - Graphic
Is the Government Trying to Stem the Tide of Images From
New Orleans by Threatening Journalists?: Journalists covering New Orleans in the
aftermath of hurricane Katrina report that militarization in and around
the city has hindered their work and threatened their physical safety. We
hear from two journalists who were reporting in New Orleans recently.
Video and transcript. This is a
Bodies Won't Hide the Truth: When a lot of people see a lot
of dead bodies, politicians begin thinking of damage control.
of the week
the Dead Teach the Living : It is thought, that if the
American people cannot see death, they will come to believe it does not
Rhodes Show Exposes FEMA, Failures, Fraud & Florida
Post-Katrina Era: This is a failure of moral and political
philosophy -- a deadly failure. It is a truth that needs to be told,
starting now -- over and over. There can be no delay.
group to fly in temporary mass mortuary: The US confirmed on
Thursday that it is braced for the discovery of more than 10,000 bodies
following Hurricane Katrina.
Scott Ritter: It's Accountability Time: We were repeatedly told that a threat to our security
loomed on the horizon, a threat so grave we as a people needed to cede our
liberties to a benevolent federal authority that guaranteed the security
of a nation we now called our “homeland.”
Samples : Bush: The Man With A SNAFU Plan: "On August 15,
just two weeks before Katrina slammed into the U.S., the Pentagon boasted
of spending $6.4-billion -- so far -- on 2,705 Corps of Engineers
construction projects in Iraq, all but 200 of them started since June
End Of The New American Century : The mighty colossus that
aspired to stand astride the world has been unmasked as a feeble old man
unable to take care of his own people.
block efforts to amend relief bill, hold vote without providing copy of
bill: The Republican Leadership in the House of
Representatives limited floor consideration of the $52 billion Katrina
relief bill proposed by President Bush and voted to reject any Democratic
efforts to amend the bill to include a wider array of relief measures
Orleans Begins Confiscating Firearms as Water Recedes:
Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police
officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered
firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of
the residents still living here.
Amendment Nixed in New Orleans: In the new New Orleans, there
are no constitutional rights. Not only are soldiers allowed to break down
doors (as they do in Iraq) in violation of the Fourth Amendment and even
“shoot to kill” if they believe they are threatened (as soldiers in Iraq
“shoot to kill” grandmothers and kids at Israeli-styled checkpoints), now
the Second Amendment no longer exists.
Unconfirmed report: I just got back
from a FEMA Detainment Camp: Jesse Jackson was right when
he said "refugees" was not the appropriate word for the poor souls
dislocated due to Katrina. But he was wrong about why it is not
appropriate. It's not appropriate because they are detainees, not
Green Zone: Under globalization, Baghdad and New Orleans
really are interchangeable. It’s not just the American worker, but the
American citizen, who is being brought down to the same level as a citizen
of the Third World. Apparently, human rights are only for those with the
money to buy them -- and the price is going up, up, up, right along with
Seeks NATO Help for Katrina Victims: The United States turned
Thursday to its allies in NATO, to help bring in desperately needed food
and supplies for the hundreds of thousands of Americans left homeless by
Hurricane 'finally cleaned out public housing in New
Hurricane punishment for pullout : “There was a tsunami and
there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah
study… black people reside there (in New Orleans). Blacks will study the
Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.”
killed in spate of attacks : Four Iraqis, including two
policemen, have been killed and five others wounded in separate rebel
attacks, including a roadside bomb that targeted a US convoy in Baghdad,
security sources say.
kill policeman in western Baghdad : Gunmen attacked a police
patrol in western Baghdad Friday, killing a policeman and wounding three
others, the police said.
car bomb kills Iraqi woman, wounds 3 : A suicide car bomb
blew up near a US military convoy in southern Baghdad on Friday, killing
an Iraqi woman and wounding three people, police said.
to clear 'insurgent town' : US forces have carried out
bombing raids overnight on Thursday on the town, near Syria.
airport closed “until further notice’: In a press statement,
the company said it had not been paid for its services since March and
therefore decided cease operations as of 06:00 am (0200 GMT) on Friday,
effectively closing the airport to commercial traffic.
Powell admits he lied to UN on WMD: Well almost: Powell
calls pre-Iraq U.N. speech a 'blot' on his record: "I'm the
one who presented it to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my
record. It was painful. It is painful now," Powell said in an interview
with Barbara Walters on ABC-News. (Related story: The story of WMDs that