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Thursday 15 September 2005

Washington Post: Feds Meant To Kill People In New Orleans

The Washington Post today says that the intention of the federal government was to kill people and to cause suffering of innocents in New Orleans. Or so they seem to say, anyway.

Howard Kurtz, the Post media critic, is usually fairly good, but today he’s gone so far off the rails that I have to question his sanity. He compares the actions of the federal government in responding to the flooding of New Orleans to the government’s 1993 attack on the Branch Davidians in Waco:

With Bush still complaining about the “blame game,” and making a televised address tonight, I’ve been thinking about this finger-pointing business since the fallout over Katrina reached politically dangerous flood levels:

Was there a blame game when there was a monumental screw-up, involving lost lives, by a Democratic administration?

The answer is yes. In 1993, when the Clinton administration ordered the raid at Waco that led to 70 [sic] deaths, including those of many children, the blame-gamers immediately swung into action, and some of the accusers were Democrats.

Yeah, well, in that case, Howard, elected officials and other Constitutional officers of the United States positively gave orders that, whatever their intent, resulted in the deaths of 85 people and the utter destruction of a lot of private property, on the theory that the people on that private property might be breaking some laws.

On the other hand, this month the federal government actually exceeded its own guidelines in responding to Hurricane Katrina: the official word is that individuals, municipalities, and states should be prepared to tough it out on their own for five to seven days before the feds show up. Federal relief started showing up four days after the hurricane hit, and three days after the city flooded.

You see the similarity? That’s good, because I don’t.

Because many of the witnesses to, and much of the evidence of, whatever crimes may have been committed by the Branch Davidians at Waco were and was killed and lost in the attack, it’s hard to know precisely what was going on there. At best, the government acted in the best of intentions and with proper evidence and totally within the law, and wound up killing eighty-five people, many of whom might safely be presumed to have been innocent of any crime.

So unless you buy the conspiracy theories that the federal government deliberately blew up the levees for the express purpose of flooding the city — particularly the black parts of the city, because they’re racists, remember — this comparison is mind-bogglingly inapt.

Eight paragraphs later, Kurtz grudgingly admits:

Yes, the Bush team was responding to a natural disaster and the Clinton team caused the disaster at Waco after a long siege, but the underlying principle is the same.

What? What the fuck? What underlying principle? Is the Washington Post suggesting that the federal government deliberately set out to kill people in New Orleans? Because I can’t really see any other ‘principle’ behind firing incendiary grenades and .50-caliber machine guns into the Branch Davidian compound.

To suggest that the incidents at Waco — which are probably most charitably characterized as a police riot at the highest levels — and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina are in any way similar is utterly not just insane but insulting. And while I am not particularly surprised to see this coming from the Post any more, I am a bit surprised to see it under Howard Kurtz’s byline.

Posted by tino at 10:48 15.09.05
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I’ve always thought Howie is a putz. He seems to spend most of his column-inches making lame excuses for bad reporting by The Post and as gossip columnist for the political media set. Only occasionally can he be bothered to take politicians and the media to task for their too-cozy relationship. And even then he seems to pull his punches.

I’m not sure which is worse, his writing, or that The Post publishes it.

Posted by: RRP at September 15, 2005 12:54 PM