Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The New Orleans hostage crisis

From an important posting in Dispatch from the Trenches (emphasis in the original):

"OK, let's get this straight: Michael Brown is most likely an incompetent stooge but the fact of the matter is that when he refused to release supplies, National Guard troops, and construction equipment, and then ordered the Superdome locked and checkpoints set up along the roads leading out of New Orleans to turn back anyone trying to escape the destruction, he was following orders. None of it was accidental, none of it was a matter of poor decision-making or the wrong priorities. It was a deliberate attempt by the Bush Administration to blackmail the state of Louisiana into handing the city over to the Federal government.

On Friday, four days after Katrina hit, National Guard troops finally arrived, supposedly bringing food and water to those trapped in the Superdome. It's true that there was an initial delivery of emergency supplies, but it was hardly adequate. Everyone assumed more would be coming. But the NG came armed, supposedly to defend itself against bands of looters with handguns and rifles. Soon after, it became clear that the NG's real orders were to lock down the Superdome and prevent anyone from leaving.

Between Wednesday morning and Friday night, ships loaded with food, water, and medical supplies arrived. FEMA refused to allow them to be off-loaded. Michael Brown then ordered the communications lines cut that tied emergency workers together.

Shortly before midnight, the Bush Administration essentially delivered an ultimatum to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco: before they released the emergency supplies, they wanted her to sign the city of New Orleans over to the Federal government."


Note that the link is to the infamous article in the Washington Post, the one in which the Post reprinted the lie told to them by a 'senior administration official' (presumably Karl Rove or someone working for him), that Blanco had not declared a state of emergency as of Saturday, September 3, when in fact, as the correction at the top of the article says, Blanco had declared the state of emergency on August 26 (many feel the Post has an ethical obligation to reveal the name of the 'senior administration official', as any promise of confidentiality was rendered inoperative by the lie, and the fact of the lie is now part of the news). The spinning that is going on is part of the blame-shifting exercise by the White House, but, as Dispatch from the Trenches points out, has a darker purpose as well. Based on Bush's supposed authority to use the National Guard to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act, Bush wanted to declare martial law and take over the city of New Orleans. Why? Dispatch from the Trenches gives four reasons, the most important ones being the third and fourth (emphasis in the original):

"Declaring martial law would give the Federal government total control of the city: the Army would be brought in to police it and - perhaps most important to this corporate president - the Federal government would have charge of all the rebuilding contracts, giving it $$$billions$$$ to hand out to its corporate sponsors.

There's also the little matter of taking decisions about how and what to rebuild out of the hands of the people of New Orleans and putting them into the hands of people who see New Orleans as 'Sin City', effectively ensuring that New Orleans would never again be the Big Easy."


Bush used the starving people of New Orleans as hostages to blackmail the Governor into turning the city over to his troops so he could:

  1. hand out all the reconstruction contracts to friends of the Bush Crime Family such as Halliburton; and

  2. use his soldiers to control the exit and return of the inhabitants of New Orleans, to ensure that 'undesirables' - blacks and poor white race traitors who like living in a predominantly black culture - never come back so he can rebuild the city as an amusement park for white tourists.


The lie told to the Washington Post was just part of the pressure put on the Governor. Bush's plan explains why available troops were left out of the city when they could have been useful and were only installed as the city was being evacuated (they now serve as overarmed security guards), and why FEMA took active steps to prevent aid and aid workers from getting to the city. It also explains why the mainstream press spent so much time reporting on looting, rapes and murders, all in an attempt to force Blanco to agree to Bush's demands. The looting stories were almost entirely cases of people foraging for the food which Bush had ensured they couldn't have, and the rape and murder stores were largely fictional. The entire scenario was an attempt by the Bush Administration to make money off the tragedy caused by Katrina, an attempt that was partially foiled by Blanco's refusal to be blackmailed into handing the city over to Bush.


The struggle continues, and we must not allow them to get away with their evil plans. It would be a social, architectural, and cultural crime to let Bush destroy New Orleans. New Orleans needs to be brought back to life in its existing buildings, most of which can be saved, and with its former inhabitants. Did the Italian government contemplate rebuilding Florence someplace else after the 1966 floods? Does anyone ever seriously contemplate moving Venice, a very similar ecological disaster of a city that is also slowly sinking? The idea is laughable. Let's face it. There are only five culturally important places in the whole country: New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and . . . New Orleans. You just can't give New Orleans up so that some rich Republicans can make money. If the American political system were working properly, Bush's attempt to use the lives of the starving and dying citizens of New Orleans as hostages should lead to his impeachment and removal from office. This wasn't just total incompetence and negligence; it was a criminal act.

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