Video footage taken just hours before Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast shows that federal officials delivered stark warnings to President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that the storm could lead to massive loss of life.
“We are fully prepared,” Bush responded.
In the event, the president’s response was slow and sluggish in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin admitted that he was shocked by video showing U.S. President George W. Bush being told that New Orleans protective levees could fail. The tape contradicts the president’s statement four days after the hurricane struck: “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”
However, as regular readers will know, the president’s slow response in the aftermath of Katrina was due to one thing. As detailed by the Voice of the White House February 13, 2006:
“Bush was, and is, a so-called “binge drinker.” This means that from time to time, often when under pressure, he goes to Crawford for privacy and during his visit, gets royally drunk. During this time, it has been proven impossible to communicate anything to Bush, and his aides and his wife not only shield him from hostile eyes but endeavor to fill in until he is back amongst the living again. In this case, the White House staff in Washington, horrified by the mounting news stories and well aware of the President’s chronic drinking problems, compiled a DVD containing urgent television programs on the progress of the disaster and sent it by courier to Crawford to play for the President.
Three days after the levee collapse and the mounting chaos in New Orleans, Bush apparently regained some degree of sobriety and then decided to leave Crawford…for a fund-raising dinner in Arizona and a photo opportunity in California!.
In spite of the frantic attempts on the part of his staff and senior advisors, he refused to either go to New Orleans or return to Washington. If nothing else, Bush will not be told what to do by anyone and this was the situation here. He duly flew over the flooded city, pointed at the mess for the press cameraman and then relaxed with a nice lunch with his staff.”
Above: a still from a government video shows President Bush, center, in a room at his vacation ranch in Texas, Aug. 28, 2005, taking part in a government wideo briefing the day before Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29. (AP Photo)