There have been a lot of excuses put forth as to why it took five (5) days for the residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to receive help from the federal government. There were several offered in Spike Lee’s documentary “When the Levees Broke” — something about states rights, not enough information from the ground, inadequate resources, etc. I’m sure we will hear more as the anniversary of the Katrina disaster nears.

Soledad O’Brien, news correspondent, points out in “When the Levees Broke” that it only took 2 days for the U.S. to provide material assistance in remote Banda Aceh in Indonesia in the wake of the December 2005 tsunami. I would posit to you that every word out of every Bush administration official’s mouth after the levees broke was a cold, bald lie. Why?

Read this U.S. Dept of State eJournal account — offered on an official U.S. Government website no less — of the heroic aid that the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Government at their best provided to Indonesian tsunami victims. Here are a few excerpts:

Significantly important in the U.S. military support was the availability of almost 60 U.S. helicopters, which flew over 2,200 missions, shuttling relief supplies from U.S. ships and other staging areas to hard-hit towns and villages. U.S. fixed-wing aircraft, mostly C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft, flew another 1,300 plus missions shuttling much-needed relief supplies and equipment into and throughout the affected regions. In Indonesia, which bore the brunt of the damage, the first fresh water many survivors saw was delivered by U.S. military units that rushed to the region even before the full extent of the damage was known. All told, through mid-February the U.S. military had delivered over 24 million pounds of relief supplies and equipment.

Six Maritime Preposition Ships from Guam and Diego Garcia also were dispatched to the area to provide critical drinking water: each can store about 90,000 gallons of fresh water and is capable of producing 36,000 gallons daily. Adequate fresh water supplies helped prevent widely-predicted, but largely avoided, outbreaks of malaria and other diseases.

American ambassadors in the stricken countries immediately offered financial and technical assistance and called upon U.S. military and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) experts to begin assessing the damage. U.S. ships were given orders to begin deploying to the region within hours of the tragedy—well before the extent of devastation was clear or any government had officially requested their assistance —in order to be there if and when called upon. Within 24 hours, U.S. Navy P-3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft began flying missions over the affected areas to help assist in the search and rescue effort and to assess the extent of the damage. This, despite the fact that U.S. military forces continue to be severely over-extended and many had seen recent duty in Iraq. (The forces, rather than complaining, willingly and eagerly came to the rescue, despite in some cases having their holiday rest and recovery curtailed.)

Let me get this straight — before there was full information and without governmental request, the Bush administration and the military took action! Soldiers on leave from Iraq were enlisted in the effort! But wait there’s more!

Within 48 hours of the tragedy, with news reports still estimating that “20,000 people are feared dead,” the U.S. Pacific Command was already establishing a joint task force to coordinate and conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Access approval was requested, and quickly obtained, from the Thai government to allow its massive Utapao Air Base to serve as the regional hub for the relief effort. Meanwhile, U.S. defense attaches were arranging overflight and landing rights and making initial contacts to allow U.S. forces, if and when authorized to assist, to more effectively interact with their regional counterparts. As Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz subsequently testified, “the ability of the Department of Defense to respond so quickly would not have been possible without the relationships developed over many years with the militaries of countries in the region, particularly with Thailand.” The joint force (denoting the involvement of more than one military service) quickly became a combined force as other militaries became involved in the coordination effort. The task force also transformed into a non-doctrinal support force.

So apparently Americans in need did not merit this incredible level of coordination, cooperation, organization and resource allocation. It took international shame and national approbation to motivate any action or aid whatsoever, which when it arrived, was less that it should or could have been. The Canadian Mounties arrived in New Orleans before the federal government in the midst of the worst disaster our nation has seen to date. Doesn’t that make you angry. Or concerned.

The BlackProf recommends that folks bring friends and neighbors together around the anniversary of Katrina and host events. That’s a good idea because if there is one thing we should all take from what happened last year and what continues to happen to the victims of Katrina — it’s that the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have no intention of protecting American citizens. We need to organize in order to bring about some “regime change” that will ensure the safety of all Americans, not just the privileged few. Yet a special mention for Democratic LA Governor Blanco has to be reserved. In what ways could she have done more or acted more decisively? Should she also be held accountable?

As Harry Truman said famously, “The Buck Stops Here.” President Bush himself bears the greatest responsibility for the tragic and needless loss of life during Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. He ran and hid during 9/11 when the planes first struck our national landmarks and he did the exact same thing during Katrina. When — when will this person be held accountable and why is it not as much of an election rallying cry as Iraq? The Bush adminstration was fully capable of providing significant aid and comfort to American citizens during an hour of dire need immediately — and did not. Everything else they say is simply an insulting lie.

Related Posts with Thumbnails