Shifting The Blame

Karl Rove Orchestrated Plan “To Contain The Political Damage” And “Move The Blame For The Slow Response To Louisiana State Officials.” According to the New York Times, “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina. It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan. The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides.” [New York Times, 9/4/05]

Bush “Blamed State And Local Authorities” For “Unacceptable” Response To Katrina. According to the Washington Post, “Tens of thousands of people spent a fifth day awaiting evacuation from this ruined city, as Bush administration officials blamed state and local authorities for what leaders at all levels have called a failure of the country’s emergency management. […] Bush, who has been criticized, even by supporters, for the delayed response to the disaster, used his weekly radio address to put responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government. The magnitude of the crisis ‘has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities,’ he said. ‘The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable.’” [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff Said The Governor Was The “Primary Authority” And Claimed He Had “Full Confidence” In FEMA Director Michael Brown. According to the Washington Post, “In a Washington briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said one reason federal assets were not used more quickly was ‘because our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state with the governor.’ Chertoff planned to fly overnight to the New Orleans area to take charge of deploying the expanded federal and military assets for several days, he said. He said he has ‘full confidence’ in FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, the DHS undersecretary and federal officer in charge of the Katrina response.” [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

“Senior Bush Official” Falsely Claimed Gov. Blanco Failed To Declare State Of Emergency. According to the Washington Post, “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said. ‘The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana,’ White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. ‘The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana.’ Blanco declared a state of emergency on August 26. [Washington Post, 9/4/05; States News Service, 8/26/05]