More on the Katrina Fall-Out

First up, the NY Times, discussing the problems between federal and state coordination:

While combat troops can conduct relief missions without the legal authority of the Insurrection Act, Pentagon and military officials say that no active-duty forces could have been sent into the chaos of New Orleans on Wednesday or Thursday without confronting law-and-order challenges.

But just as important to the administration were worries about the message that would have been sent by a president ousting a Southern governor of another party from command of her National Guard, according to administration, Pentagon and Justice Department officials.

“Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?” asked one senior administration official, who spoke anonymously because the talks were confidential.

Officials in Louisiana agree that the governor would not have given up control over National Guard troops in her state as would have been required to send large numbers of active-duty soldiers into the area. But they also say they were desperate and would have welcomed assistance by active-duty soldiers.

“I need everything you have got,” Ms. Blanco said she told Mr. Bush last Monday, after the storm hit.

In an interview, she acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers. “Nobody told me that I had to request that,” Ms. Blanco said. “I thought that I had requested everything they had. We were living in a war zone by then.”

I simply find it hard to believe that these sorts of legal issues have not been resolved post 9/11. Maybe they will be now. In addition, the WaPo has another piece about the backgrounds of top FEMA officials:

Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

FEMA’s top three leaders — Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler — arrived with ties to President Bush’s 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska and a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.

Meanwhile, veterans such as U.S. hurricane specialist Eric Tolbert and World Trade Center disaster managers Laurence W. Zensinger and Bruce P. Baughman — who led FEMA’s offices of response, recovery and preparedness, respectively — have left since 2003, taking jobs as consultants or state emergency managers, according to current and former officials.

Because of the turnover, three of the five FEMA chiefs for natural-disaster-related operations and nine of 10 regional directors are working in an acting capacity, agency officials said.


More here from a different angle. And just bonus points for Andrew Sullivan’s brass balls for claiming Instapundit misquoted Blanco. I like Sully and have defended him in the past, but it would be a full-time job counting all the things he has just gotten wrong or quotes he has taken out of context this week .

Flight 93 Memorial

Via Malkin, here is the proposed Flight 93 Memorial:

For obvious reasons, this has sparked an immediate controversy, and Malkin has the link round-up. I am a little nonplussed, and really don’t know what to think- was this just an accident, and oversight, a lack of awareness of the importance of the crescent as a symbol?

Bryan Preston’s reaction will probably be more typical:

“What next–a holocaust memorial in the shape of a swastika?”

Your thoughts?

Legal Problems

Another effect of the hurricane I hadn’t really thought about otherthan what they were going to do with the prisoners from New Orleans:

At Rapides Parish Detention Center 3 in Alexandria, which normally holds convicted felons, there are now 200 new inmates who arrived hot, hungry and exhausted on buses this week after being evacuated from flooded jails in New Orleans.

They have no paperwork indicating whether they are charged with having too much to drink or attempted murder. There is no judge to hear their cases, no courthouse designated to hear them in and no lawyer to represent them. If lawyers can be found, there is no mechanism for paying them. The prisoners have had no contact with their families for days and do not know whether they are alive or dead, if their homes do or do not exist.

“It’s like taking a jail and shaking it up in a fruit-basket turnover, so no one has any idea who these people are or why they’re here,” said Phyllis Mann, one of several local lawyers who were at the detention center until 11 p.m. Wednesday, trying to collect basic information on the inmates. “There is no system of any kind for taking care of these people at this point.”

Along with the destruction of homes, neighborhoods and lives, Hurricane Katrina decimated the legal system of the New Orleans region.

More than a third of the state’s lawyers have lost their offices, some for good. Most computer records will be saved. Many other records will be lost forever. Some local courthouses have been flooded, imperiling a vast universe of files, records and documents. Court proceedings from divorces to murder trials, to corporate litigation, to custody cases will be indefinitely halted and when proceedings resume lawyers will face prodigious – if not insurmountable – obstacles in finding witnesses and principals and in recovering evidence.

What a mess.

More here about the arrests of suspected looters:

More than 220 looting suspects and others accused of violence in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have been taken to a makeshift city jail known as “Camp Greyhound,” the New Orleans bus terminal, to await transfer to out-of-town prisons.

The arrests and transfers are being monitored by the Justice Department and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office to ensure that proper legal procedures are being followed, law-enforcement authorities said.

Another 1,000 inmates already in jail in Louisiana when Katrina hit are being moved by the U.S. Marshals Service to prisons in other states, including 460 inmates who were transported by airplane yesterday to a federal prison in Florida. Another 460 inmates will make the same trip today.

Many of the jail facilities in New Orleans were flooded after the storm.

U.S. Attorney David Dugas in Baton Rouge yesterday said a majority of those arrested were taken into custody in Jefferson Parish, where law-enforcement authorities have rounded up dozens of looters who raided houses and businesses.

Prisoners at the New Orleans bus terminal are being guarded by corrections officers from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola — one of the toughest prisons in the country. Sixteen bus stops have become hastily constructed cages of chain-link fencing and razor wire, each filled with men or women arrested on the flood-ravaged streets of New Orleans during a rampage of looting and violence that overtook the city.

While the vast majority of those being processed through the terminal are accused of looting, one of the men brought to the site was Wendell L. Bailey, charged with shooting at a rescue helicopter seeking to aid people trapped at the Superdome. Others were named on charges of attempted murder and attempted rape.

So I guess there were significant arrests made, and they have the guy accused of shooting at the rescue helicopter. This is news to me.


Hurricane Katrina refugee Valerie Bennett, of Slidell, La., presses her face to her dog, Lady, after they were reunited at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005. She and her husband, Lorne, had to leave behind four of their pets when Lorne, a liver transplant patient, had to be evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to a liver specialist for supervision. (AP)

I just don’t think I could leave Tunch behind. If you want to give to help the animals, contribute to Noah’s Wish however you can.

And how about a moment of silence for Stormy’s kitty, who had be put down yesterday.

Nuclear- Now More Than Ever

The price of natural gas could soar 71% this winter, making home heating costs rise sharply:

Natural gas prices could rise as much as 71% in places, the largest increase in projected energy costs as a result of Hurricane Katrina, the Energy Department says
The department’s statistical agency, the Energy Information Administration, says price hikes will depend on how quickly oil rigs and Gulf coast refineries damaged by Hurricane Katrina can be repaired.

In its report, the agency said natural gas prices for the Midwest will increase as much as 71%, while heating oil prices in the Northeast could rise 31%. Electricity prices in the South could jump 17%.

But barring an unusually slow pace of repairs, the agency said domestic oil production should return to just under 5.4 million barrels a day in November, where it was in August before Katrina disrupted most Gulf production and knocked out 10 refineries.

While this is being blamed partially on Hurricane Katrina, prices for natural gas have been soaring for years (I think a five-fold increase), in large part because the vast majority of new plants designed to generate electricity are fueled mostly or in large part by natural gas.

We really need to revisit nuclear, and now, not later. Your thoughts? And if you can find the graphs charting the price increase in natural gas, that would be appreciated. I am relying on memory.

An Incoherent Position

This position makes no sense whatsoever:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced Wednesday night that he will veto landmark legislation that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger’s press secretary, Margita Thompson, said the governor opposes the legislation, passed Tuesday night by the California Assembly and last week by the state Senate, because he thinks the matter should be decided by California’s courts or its voters.

Schwarzenegger’s decision ends the prospects for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which passed along strict party lines after an impassioned debate in the California Assembly. The measure would have recast the state’s legal definition of marriage as a union between two people rather than a union between a man and a woman.

The vote marked the first time that a state legislature had approved a bill authorizing same-sex marriage without a court order. Massachusetts has passed regulations allowing gay marriage, but only after state courts ordered it to do so.

Don’t the voters select the legislators? Since when do we want the courts to decide these issues.

Given that anymore the election of a Republican statewide in California is an aberration, it will be interesting to see what happens if Arnold does veto this and a Democrat is elected to succeed him. Will the legislature pass it again, or will the bill suddenly not have the votes to be passed again?

*** Update ***

Patterico says this is the right thing for Arnold to do.

Politicizing Tragedy

MoveOn.Org up to their usual shenanigans:

To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor

Contact: Trevor Fitzgibbon, Kawana Lloyd or Alex Howe, 202-822-5200, all for Moveon.Org Political Action

News Advisory:

— Katrina Evacuees to Tell President Bush His Administration Let Them Down

— Request Meeting with President to Demand Accountability

— Why Was Federal Funding Cut For Levee Maintenance?

Hurricane Katrina evacuees flew into the nation’s capital to tell President Bush to stop blaming local officials for his mistakes and acknowledge that budget cuts and indifference by his administration led to the disaster in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

They intend to ask him why he diverted over 40 percent of federal funding between 2001-2005 away from New Orleans. Hundreds are expected to rally in front of the White House at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

“The President of the United States and his appointees let us down,” said Christine Mayfield, a New Orleans public school teacher and mother of three who was dislocated and now is staying in North Carolina…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Excellent Visuals — Signs reading “Shame” and “Help Hurricane Victims”

Shameless, and again, another reason why I have been beating down this levee funding bullshit from the instant it started.