Thursday, March 02, 2006

a streetcar named denial

When I was writing earlier about Bush’s problems with reality—as exhibited by his statements about violence in Iraq and the response to Katrina in an interview with ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas—I had no idea that I would be provided with such stunning backup by the AP:

WASHINGTON - In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

The tape, which now can be seen over at Crooks and Liars, shows the President, sitting quietly in Crawford, as FEMA and NOAA officials explicitly warn Bush and Chertoff (via video link) of virtually everything that actually happened once Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

So, now, Shrub can’t even claim that he lacked “situational awareness,” as he has done with every other breath, of late. He was told of the situation. Clearly. Graphically. With urgency and anxiety and shit like that.

So, what are we to understand from this? Either, Bush was completely disengaged during the briefing (and uttered the “fully prepared” bullshit only after someone kicked him under the table), he is totally incapable of grasping the responsibilities of his position, he is too stupid to understand what the experts were telling him, he has a psychological problem that prevents him from processing bad news or contrary thought, or he just flat out lies a whole heck of a lot (like when Bush told Diane Sawyer four days after this briefing “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of those levees.”).

Update: I think I might have to go with lying. Jane at fdl has word that the White House has leaked a transcript of the daily noontime briefing of August 29 to Newsweek in order to overshadow the AP story. Problem is, during congressional investigations into Katrina, the administration said that this transcript didn’t exist. Yes, you read that right. Read more here.


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