Thursday, September 15, 2005

The New Orleans catastrophe is inexplicable, or is it?


Another e-mail from the Yale list. I report, you decide (again, not blockquoted due to length - not a single word is mine):

This is the clearest summary I've seen about why New Orleans was left
to suffer.

Lawlessness provides the cover for profiteering via the Kelo ruling
(with John Roberts as Chief Justice, of course) and for military rule.

It starts out with nothing new, but keep reading. It's a concocted
militarization of civil society.

p.s. Not mentioned below, but remember that the same private mercenary
company (a.k.a. Blackwater) that's in Iraq is now also in New Orleans.
**************************************************

From Federal Failure Arises More Federal Power

The response of federal emergency management was delayed until
survivors desperate for food and water (and some for a drug fix) began
looting. The lawlessness provided cover for the federal government to
violate the Posse Comitatus Act and send in regular military troops to
police civilian populations. Lawlessness, the eruption of which was
guaranteed by delayed relief, provides cover both for martial law,
which suspends constitutional protections, and for the confiscation of
legally owned private firearms in violation of the Second Amendment to
the US Constitution. Many readers see a concocted militarization of
civil society. They insist that these new precedents, together with
the recent federal appeals court ruling that the White House has the
power to seize American citizens and to hold them indefinitely on mere
suspicion or accusation without charges or presentation of evidence
against them, mean the overthrow of liberty and accountable government
in the United States.

The New Orleans power elite sees in the recent US Supreme Court Kelo
decision, which permits the use of eminent domain to serve private
interests, a chance to rebuild New Orleans in their own image. In the
September 8 Wall Street Journal, Christopher Cooper ("Old Line
Families Plot the Future") quotes members of the power elite, who
admit they are mapping out a new city that will not restore the old
order: "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in
a completely different way: demographically, geographically and
politically," says James Reiss. The Journal's report brings to light
that the "teeming (black) underclass," which guarantees Democratic
control of New Orleans, is one part of the old order that is not
slated for renewal. In other words, federal failure in New Orleans
plus Kelo equals ethnic cleansing of a large historic American city.

by Paul Craig Roberts

The New Orleans catastrophe is inexplicable


FEMA's slow response is a mystery.

Never before has federal funding for work by the US Corps of Engineers
on the New Orleans levees and for the congressionally authorized
Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) been curtailed
in the face of dire expert warnings of the consequence.

The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA knew days in advance that
Hurricane Katrina was threatening the Gulf coast of the US. Yet, the
normal advance preparations were not undertaken.

At the request of the Louisiana governor, President Bush declared a
federal emergency for Louisiana on Saturday August 27 prior to
Katrina's arrival in New Orleans on the following Monday. The
declaration specifically authorized FEMA "to identify, mobilize, and
provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to
alleviate the impacts of the emergency." However, FEMA took no action
until 3 days after the hurricane, delaying the arrival of effective
help until 5 days after 80% of New Orleans was under water.

Compare this inexplicable delay with the rapid response to the Florida
hurricanes last year.

Cynics note that Florida's governor is President Bush's brother, a
Republican being groomed for a run for president, while the Louisiana
governor and New Orleans mayor are expendable Democrats. However, the
New Orleans disaster is too great to be attributed solely to crass
party politics.

Funding for the New Orleans levees and for SELA were drastically
curtailed despite experts' protests and warnings, including the
hurricane simulation project (Hurricane Pam) conducted in July 2004
when 270 experts spent eight days assessing the impact of a major
hurricane hitting New Orleans. The simulation predicted that state and
local officials would be overwhelmed, that flood waters would overcome
the levees and cover most of the city, that more than one million
people would be uprooted for a year or longer, and that deaths would
number in the tens of thousands.

The report reads: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and
the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (LOEP) believe that the
gravity of the situation calls for an extraordinary level of advance
planning to improve government readiness to respond effectively to
such an event.

Despite these expert warnings, the Bush administration made the
decision to redirect the funding for hurricane protection to the "war
against terrorism." As Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for
Jefferson Parish, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune (June 8, 2004):
"It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to
handle homeland security and the war in Iraq."

As the decisions to deny funding for the Corps of Engineers' levee
projects and SELA and the delayed federal response to Katrina are
inexplicable, the Bush administration, realizing its criminal
negligence, quickly took steps to blame state and local officials.

A senior Bush administration official planted on the Washington Post
the disinformation that FEMA could not act because the Louisiana
governor had not declared a state of emergency. Hours after printing
this disinformation, a red-faced Washington Post issued a retraction,
which reads: "A Sept. 4 article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
incorrectly said that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) had
not declared a state of emergency. She declared an emergency on Aug.
26."

Nevertheless, the disinformation was widely spread by Brit Hume and
other Bush shills who operate out of Fox News (sic), and it continues
to be spread via rightwing talk radio and pro-Bush Internet sites. Fox
News (sic) host Bill O'Reilly spread similar disinformation. Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff added to the disinformation
against Gov. Blanco. Most Republicans cling tightly to the
orchestrated disinformation as it coddles their state of denial about
the failure of leadership in the White House.

One cause of the Bush administrations' catastrophic failure is
obvious: its single-minded focus on its "war on terror." In order to
justify its invasion of Iraq (which has gone badly both for the US and
Iraqis) and the nullification of our essential civil liberties, such
as habeas corpus, that are the foundation of our political and social
order, the Bush administration has made terrorists into a greater
threat than cold warriors were able to make the Soviet Union. The
over-hyped threat of terrorism has become a greater threat than
terrorists themselves.

Readers have insisted to me that Bush administration incompetence,
even at the level of criminal negligence, cannot explain the New
Orleans disaster. They insist there must have been willful intent as
the disaster is too large and was too predictable to be the result of
mere incompetence.

Readers cite the following circumstantial evidence in behalf of their views:

The response of federal emergency management was delayed until
survivors desperate for food and water (and some for a drug fix) began
looting. In keeping with James Q. Wilson's "broken window" analogy,
looting for survival quickly spread into general lawlessness on the
part of some elements.

The lawlessness provided cover for the federal government to violate
the Posse Comitatus Act and send in regular military troops to police
civilian populations. (Both the New York Times on September 8 and the
Washington Post on September 4 and September 11 report that federal or
active duty troops are being used along with National Guard and
police.)

Lawlessness, the eruption of which was guaranteed by delayed relief,
provides cover both for martial law, which suspends constitutional
protections, and for the confiscation of legally owned private
firearms in violation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
Everyone has by now seen the images of troops and police breaking into
New Orleans homes and pointing weapons in the faces of residents. US
military even described survivors as "insurgents." (At time of writing
news reports are confused whether martial law exists in New Orleans.
Some reports have the mayor declaring martial law; others report that
the state has declared its version of martial law. Most constitutional
experts believe martial law requires an act of Congress or a
presidential order or both.)

Many readers see a concocted militarization of civil society. They
insist that these new precedents, together with the recent federal
appeals court ruling that the White House has the power to seize
American citizens and to hold them indefinitely on mere suspicion or
accusation without charges or presentation of evidence against them,
mean the overthrow of liberty and accountable government in the United
States.

These suspicions are widely held. They demand careful investigation
both by Congress and the news media. If there are valid grounds for
the suspicions, our remaining liberties are at risk. Even if the
suspicions are groundless, they are highly corrosive of many
Americans' belief in their system of government.

All Americans should be distressed that federal judges increasingly
defer to powers, asserted by the executive branch, which nullify
constitutional rights in the interest of some "higher" cause, such as
the "war on terror." This is a certain path to tyranny. Once gained,
unaccountable powers become permanent and can be used against whomever
by future administrations. Are Republicans content for such powers to
be in the hands of a President Hillary Clinton?

Whether or not there are grounds for suspicion of the extraordinary
federal failure in New Orleans, it is certain that federal
bureaucracies will take advantage of the situation to grab more powers
in behalf of their own agendas.

Private parties already are doing so. The New Orleans power elite sees
in the recent US Supreme Court Kelo decision, which permits the use of
eminent domain to serve private interests, a chance to rebuild New
Orleans in their own image.


In the September 8 Wall Street Journal, Christopher Cooper ("Old Line
Families Plot the Future") quotes members of the power elite, who
admit they are mapping out a new city that will not restore the old
order: "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in
a completely different way: demographically, geographically and
politically," says James Reiss. "I'm not just speaking for myself
here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again."

The Journal's report brings to light that the "teeming (black)
underclass," which guarantees Democratic control of New Orleans, is
one part of the old order that is not slated for renewal. In other
words, federal failure in New Orleans plus Kelo equals ethnic
cleansing of a large historic American city.

With 40 members of the New Orleans power elite having seized the
opportunity to meet in Dallas on September 9 "to begin mapping out a
future for the city," you can bet federal agencies will use the same
opportunity to grab heightened powers. The rights that protect US
citizens from government power are rapidly disappearing if not already
lost. This is the real crisis faced by the vast majority of Americans
who are not a part of the power elite.

In the end not even the power elite will be safe. Hitler exterminated
his own Brownshirts before he went to work on the Jews, and Stalin
exterminated the Bolshevik heros of the Russian Revolution. Once power
is unaccountable, it becomes the possession of the most ruthless.
Loyal party membership protected neither the Brownshirts nor the
Bolsheviks. And it will not protect Bush's Republican apologists.

September 12, 2005

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute
for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent
Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal,
former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant
secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of
Good Intentions.


Copyright (c) 2005 Creators Syndicate

Conservative bio, huh?


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