Friday, February 10, 2006

NYT: "White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm" (Eric Lipton)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.
But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.

[. . .]
Michael D. Brown, who was the director of FEMA until he resigned under pressure on Sept. 12, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he personally notified the White House of this news that night, though he declined to identify the official he spoke to.

The above is from Eric Lipton's "White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm" in this morning's New York Times. Don't get too excited. The Times can tell some of the truth on what's pretty much general knowledge and about to become more so. While at the same time?

Oh, you just know there's an Elisabeth Bumiller in here, don't you? You can sense it. It's that same feeling you get right before you vomit, isn't it? Well you're correct. Bumiller and David Johnston's "Bush Gives New Details of 2002 Qaeda Plot to Attack Los Angeles:"

President Bush offered new information on Thursday about what he said was a foiled plot by Al Qaeda in 2002 to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building west of the Mississippi, the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, as he sought to make the case for his record on national security.

Offered new information, did he? Let's go to Rupert Cornwell writing for London's The Independent:

President Bush claimed yesterday that the US and its allies had foiled an al-Qa'ida bid to follow up the attacks of 11 September 2001 by hijacking a commercial jet with the threat of shoe bombs and flying it into the tallest building in Los Angeles.

There's drinking the Kool-Aid and then there's using it as a body paint. Want to guess which option Bumiller and Johnston choose? (Hint, they're *donning* bikinis and attempting to dance around the national stage with none of the charm Goldie Hawn demonstrated on Laugh In.) Bumiller and Johnston get the run around from the White House but they're happy to be led by the rings in their noses. They do alert you to the this:

Mr. Bush and White House officials gave no reason for releasing details of a plot that they first disclosed last October. But Mr. Bush's speech came at a time when Republicans are intent on establishing their record on national security as the pre-eminent issue in the 2006 midterm elections, and when the president is facing questions from members of both parties about a secret eavesdropping program that he describes as pivotal to the war on terrorism.

It's a sort of wink-wink-nod, "read between my lines" aside -- which they may think that passes for "independent journalism." It doesn't. Elisabeth Bumiller continues to serve as the squad leader of the Elite Fluff Patrol, mainly because no one else regularly demonstrates their willingness to swallow so eagerly whatever official spin is being erected that day.

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