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Katrina Did New Orleans
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And FEMA was a criminal accessory.

The Washington Post had an article this morning that nailed it down, I believe. Until now, the Bush administration had been able to shuffle the peas under the cups rapidly enough to confuse us all. But the following testimony makes it clear that FEMA knew, Brown knew and DID NOTHING.

For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday.

Marty Bahamonde, sent to New Orleans by Brown, said he alerted Brown's assistant shortly after 11 a.m. that Monday with the "worst possible news" for the city: The Category 4 hurricane had carved a 20-foot breach in the 17th Avenue Canal levee.

Five FEMA aides were e-mailed Bahamonde's report of "water flow 'bad' " from the broken levees designed to hold back Lake Pontchartrain. Bahamonde said he called Brown personally after 7 p.m. to warn that 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater and that he had photographed a 200-foot-wide breach.

"FEMA headquarters knew at 11 o'clock. Mike Brown knew at 7 o'clock. Most of FEMA's operational staff knew by 9 o'clock that evening. I don't know where that information went," said Bahamonde, a 12-year FEMA staffer....

Where was Brown at 11 a.m.? If he was out of contact with a Category 4 bearing down on New Orleans, that is unconscionable. If his staff refused to contact him, then they are guilty, too.

There should be criminal charges against these folks. The article goes on to cite increasingly frantic, increasingly angry messages: oxygen, food, water, toilet paper, Superdome, flooding, imminent deaths. All downplayed as they went up the food chain, it appears. Don't want to tell the big boss any bad news. Ordinary people paid the price with their lives and their homes.

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