Thursday, June 28, 2007

stop me if you’ve heard this one. . .

There are three new reports out on the failures of the Bush Administration to deal with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. . . wait, that sounds almost passive. . . let me rephrase: There are three new reports out on the willful disregard for public safety and health exhibited by the Bush Administration during and after the Hurricane Katrina disaster (that’s better). For instance:

A GAO report revealed that EPA publicly downplayed the risk of asbestos inhalation, which is often released during home demolition, to city residents and failed to deploy air monitors in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Furthermore, EPA waited nearly eight months to inform residents that short-term visits could expose them to dangerous levels of asbestos and mold.

Hmmm. . . downplayed risk of asbestos, downplayed risk of asbestos. . . where have I heard—oh, yeah:

Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), whose district includes lower Manhattan. . . cited a 2003 finding by the EPA's inspector general that Whitman's assertion the air was "safe to breathe," was falsely reassuring and lacked a scientific basis.

"In the six years since the attacks," Nadler said, "we have accumulated a mountain of evidence that tens of thousands of those exposed are suffering from chronic respiratory disease and, increasingly, a variety of rare cancers."

. . . .

Nadler and others also pointed to the vetting of EPA press releases through the White House. They cited one Sept. 13 draft that said preliminary EPA sampling indicated "no or very low levels of asbestos. However, even at low levels, EPA considers asbestos hazardous in this situation."

They noted the tone of the final release was reassuring rather than cautionary, saying, "EPA is greatly relieved to have learned that there appears to be no significant levels of asbestos dust in the air in New York City."

I don’t know, what do you think—just a coincidence?

Didn’t think so.

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