From India, White House Plays Defense on Katrina teleconference tape

SHARE From India, White House Plays Defense on Katrina teleconference tape
SHARE From India, White House Plays Defense on Katrina teleconference tape

In New Delhi, the White House puts out a “fact sheet” arguing the Aug. 28th Hurricane Katrina videoconference is old news.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: THE AUGUST 28TH HURRICANE KATRINA VIDEOCONFERENCE

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

(New Delhi, India)

___________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release March 2, 2006

Setting The Record Straight:

The August 28th Hurricane Katrina Videoconference

“The President’s participation in the August 28 videoconference was open

to the press, and the full transcript of this videoconference was

released to Congress and the public in the fall of 2005. President Bush

participated in briefings, phone calls and conversations throughout this

process, and his Administration was focused on making sure that the

Federal assets were in place to help the people of New Orleans. The

President has made clear – as recently as this Tuesday – that he was not

satisfied with the Federal response. That is why he ordered a

comprehensive ‘lessons learned’ report and plans to work aggressively to

implement improvements to our disaster response plans by the start of

hurricane season.”

– Trent Duffy, White House Deputy Press Secretary, 3/2/06

Setting The Record Straight On August 28th Hurricane Katrina

Videoconference.

Democrats Use August 28th Videoconference To Falsely Attack The White

House’s Hurricane Katrina Response. “Democrats said the tape shows Bush

being warned in urgent terms of the potential magnitude of the storm,

making it less defensible that the administration did not act with more

dispatch to be ready.” (Spencer S. Hsu and Linton Weeks, “Video Shows

Bush Being Warned On Katrina,” The Washington Post, 3/2/06)

But The White House Understood The Hurricane Katrina Crisis And Response

Magnitude.

*In August 28th Remarks, President Bush Discussed Hurricane

Katrina Preparations. THE PRESIDENT: “This morning I spoke with FEMA

Undersecretary Mike Brown and emergency management teams not only at the

federal level but at the state level about the – Hurricane Katrina. I’ve

also spoken to Governor Blanco of Louisiana, Governor Barbour of

Mississippi, Governor Bush of Florida, and Governor Riley of Alabama. I

want to thank all the folks at the federal level and the state level and

the local level who have taken this storm seriously. I appreciate the

efforts of the governors to prepare their citizenry for this upcoming

storm. Yesterday, I signed a disaster declaration for the state of

Louisiana, and this morning I signed a disaster declaration for the

state of Mississippi. These declarations will allow federal agencies to

coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials.

We will do everything in our power to help the people in the communities

affected by this storm. Hurricane Katrina is now designated a category

five hurricane. We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses

to Gulf Coast communities. I urge all citizens to put their own safety

and the safety of their families first by moving to safe ground. Please

listen carefully to instructions provided by state and local officials.”

(President Bush, Statement By The President On Hurricane Katrina And The

Iraq Constitution, Crawford, TX , 8/28/05)

*In August 29th Videoconference, Former FEMA Director Michael

Brown Said The President Was “Asking A Lot Of Really Good Questions I

Would Expect Him To Ask.” BROWN: “The President remains very, very

interested in this situation. … He’s obviously watching the television

a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he’s asking questions

about reports of breaches. He’s asking about hospitals. He’s very

engaged, and he’s asking a lot of really good questions I would expect

him to ask.” (Bill Walsh, “The Day Storm Hit, Bush Was Worried About

Levees,” The New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/1/06)

*August 29th Videoconference Shows White House Concern About The

Levees. “Later in the call, White House aide Joe Hagin asks

specifically about the condition of the levees.” (Bill Walsh, “The Day

Storm Hit, Bush Was Worried About Levees,” The New Orleans

Times-Picayune, 3/1/06)

In August 29th Videoconference, The White House Was Told The Levees Were

Not Breached But Knew Of Flooding And Focused On Saving Lives.

*In August 29th Videoconference, Gov. Kathleen Blanco Told The

White House “We Have Not Breached The Levee At This Point In Time.”

GOV. BLANCO: “We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is

coming over the levees. … I think we have not breached the levee. We

have not breached the levee at this point in time. That could change,

but in some places we have floodwaters coming in New Orleans East and

the line at St. Bernard Parish where we have waters that are 8- to

10-feet deep, and we have people swimming in there, that’s got a

considerable amount of water.” (Bill Walsh, “The Day Storm Hit, Bush

Was Worried About Levees,” The New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/1/06)

*Despite Conflicting Reports, The Administration “Knew Of The

Flooding.” MCCLELLAN: “There were conflicting reports coming in, in

the initial aftermath of the storm in regards to the levee system. Some

were saying it was overtopped, some were saying it was breached. And,

again, we knew of the flooding that was going on, that’s why our top

priority was focused on saving lives. The cause of the flooding was

secondary to that top priority, and that’s the way it should be.” (The

White House, Press Gaggle, 2/10/06)

*On August 29th, The Coast Guard Was Conducting Search And Rescue

Operations. FOX NEWS’ ANITA VOGEL: “Now, earlier the Coast Guard had

to step in or fly in using helicopters. They’re searching for residents

who are stranded, people literally stranded in their attics and they’re

fetching people from rooftops using baskets, making very dramatic and

heroic rescues and bringing them safely, dropping them onto I-10.” (Fox

News’ “On The Record With Greta Van Susteren,” 8/29/05)

*More Than 40,000 U.S. National Guardsmen And Women Performed

Lifesaving Search And Rescue Operations, Distributed Aid, And Helped

Evacuate Over 175,000 Citizens. THE PRESIDENT: “When Hurricane Katrina

struck the Gulf Coast last year, more than 40,000 Guardsmen and women

rushed to the impact zone – it was the largest stateside deployment in

National Guard history. They conducted search and rescue operations,

distributed food and water, provided emergency medical care, protected

communities from criminality, and worked around the clock to repair

homes and restore power. Guard units from all 50 states, three U.S.

territories, and the District of Columbia provided assistance – and

together, they saved lives and helped evacuate over 175,000 people

stranded by the storm.” (President Bush, Remarks On The Global War On

Terror, Washington, DC, 2/9/06)

The President Was Engaged In The Katrina Response And Mobilized Federal

Resources.

*In The August 28th Videoconference, President Bush Assured State

And Local Leaders The Federal Government Would Offer Continued

Assistance. “‘I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are

fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move

in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the

storm,’ Bush said, gesturing with both hands for emphasis on the digital

recording.” (Spencer S. Hsu and Linton Weeks, “Video Shows Bush Being

Warned On Katrina,” The Washington Post, 3/2/06)

*Before The Hurricane Hit, President Bush Called Gov. Blanco To

Urge A Mandatory Evacuation. GOV. BLANCO: “Thank you, Mayor. I want to

reiterate what the mayor has said. This is a very dangerous time. Just

before we walked into this room, President Bush called and told me to

share with all of you that he is very concerned about the citizens. He

is concerned about the impact that this hurricane would have on our

people. And he asked me to please ensure that there would be a mandatory

evacuation of New Orleans.” (CNN’s “Breaking News,” 8/28/05)

*The President’s Disaster Declarations Enabled The

Pre-Positioning Of Supplies And Teams. MCCLELLAN: “Well, the ones

yesterday enabled federal authorities really to pre-position supplies

and teams so that they were in close – in full coordination with state

and local partners. Today really allows FEMA now to start drawing down

or using federal funds to get resources to those areas to help with the

response and recovery from this disaster.” (The White House, Press

Gaggle, 8/29/05)

*The Federal Government Deployed Medical And Rescue Teams In

Preparation. MCCLELLAN: “The President, this morning, spoke with our

FEMA head, Mike Brown. Mike gave the President an update. Katrina

remains a dangerous storm. We are coordinating closely with state and

local authorities. We continue to urge citizens in those areas to listen

to local authorities. Medical assistance teams and rescue teams have

been deployed, and we’re continuing to coordinate all activities very

closely to make sure that the focus is on saving lives. That’s where the

top priority is right now, and that’s where it will remain.” (The White

House, Press Gaggle, 8/29/05)

# # #

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