WASHINGTON – In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned
President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: “We are fully prepared.” […]
Linked by secure video, Bush’s confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.
A top hurricane expert voiced “grave concerns” about the levees and then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren’t enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.
“I’m concerned about … their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe,” Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.
Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:[…]
_Bush declared four days after the storm, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees” that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.
Wow. Score one for the Associated Press.