by Greg Palast Aug 24 2007 - 9:35am
"By midnight on Monday, the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breeched. Nobody."
"FEMA knew at 11 o'clock on Monday that the levees had breeched. At 2p.m. they flew over he 17th Street Canal and took video of the breech."
Question: "So the White House wouldn't tell you the levees had breeched?"
Dr. Van Heerden: "They didn't tell anybody."
Question: "And you're at the Emergency Center.'
Dr. Van Heerden: "I mean nobody knew. The Corps of Engineers knew. FEMA knew. None of us knew."
The charge is devastating: That, on August 29, 2005, the White House withheld from the state police the information that New Orleans was about to flood. From almost any other source, I would not have believed it. But this was not just any source. The whistle-blower is Dr. Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, the chief technician advising the state on saving lives during Katrina.
WHY? Why on earth would the White House not tell the state to get the remaining folks out of there?
The answer: cost. Political and financial cost. A hurricane is an act of God - but a catastrophic failure of the levees is a act of Bush. That is, under law dating back to 1935, a breech of the federal levee system makes the damage - and the deaths - a federal responsibility. That means, as van Heeden points out, that "these people must be compensated."