Hurricane Katrina, Four Years Later: Monday, August 29, 2005 will never be forgotten by those who were [un]fortunate enough to live through it.
[from the editor] After reading what Palast reports, Michael Chertoff’s statements are quite unsettling. Looking back, again.
by Greg Palast
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
There’s another floater. Four years on, there’s another victim face down in the waters of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Ivor van Heerden.
I don’t get to use the word “heroic” very often. Van Heerden is heroic. The Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, it was van Heerden who told me, on camera, something so horrible, so frightening, that, if it weren’t for his international stature, it would have been hard to believe:
“By midnight on Monday the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breached. Nobody.”
On the night of August 29, 2005, van Heerden was shut in at the state emergency center in Baton Rouge, providing technical advice to the rescue effort. As Hurricane Katrina came ashore, van Heerden and the State Police there were high-fiving it: Katrina missed the city of New Orleans, turning east.
What they did not know was that the levees had cracked. For crucial hours, the White House knew, but withheld the information that the levees of New Orleans had broken and that the city was about to drown. Bush’s boys did not notify the State of the flood to come which would have allowed police to launch an emergency hunt for the thousands that remained stranded.
“Fifteen hundred people drowned. That’s the bottom line,” said van Heerden.
He shouldn’t have told me that. The professor was already in trouble for saying, publicly, that the levees around New Orleans were no good, too short, by 18″. They couldn’t stand up to a storm like Katrina. He said it months before Katrina hit – in a call to the White House, and later in the press.
So, even before Katrina, even before our interview, the professor was in hot water. Van Heerden was told by University officials that his complaints jeopardized funding from the Bush Administration. They tried to gag him. He didn’t care: he ripped off the gag and spoke out.
It didn’t matter to Bush, to the State, to the University, that van Heerden was right— devastatingly right. Exactly as van Heerden predicted, the levees could not stand up to the storm surge.
Regaining Limited Federal Government By Holding Local Politicians Accountable
by John R. McAlister
City Councilman, Gahanna, OH
Would you like to see a limited federal government bound by the chains of the Constitution? Would you like to see politicians upholding their oath to the Constitution? It is possible to see these two principles of good government instituted. It all starts at the local level by confronting the politicians who live in your neighborhood. This essay points the way but it is up to “We the People”, i.e., you to make it happen.
Holding local politicians accountable to their oath to the Constitution
We all know that Congress and the President consistently violate their oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But did you know that every local politician, mayor, city or village council representative, township trustee, county commissioner, etc., also takes an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of their state?
As a City Councilman in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna, OH, (http://gahanna.gov) I decided that I would uphold that oath by voting NO on certain city ordinances funded by unconstitutional federal money. Before a city can spend money Council has to vote on a city ordinance authorizing the expenditure.
In order to uphold my oath I have had to vote NO on buying three police cruisers with “drug money” taken in a drug raid. Why? Because the “war on drugs” is a totally unconstitutional policy.
I had to vote NO on a “safe sidewalks to schools” grant. Why? Because there is no authority in the Constitution’s Article I, sec 8, the enumerated powers of Congress, which grants the federal government the right to give money to cities. All one has to do is look each month at how many money spending ordinances are being voted on by local politicians and see which ordinances violate Article I, section 8.
Why are these local politicians violating their oath? It’s because the average citizen is not calling them on it. What if two, then ten, then 20, then 40, etc, people started showing up at their local government meetings and started monitoring the unconstitutional votes of their local politicians? What if these citizens started voicing their opposition to these votes during the council’s “hearing of visitors” part of the meeting? What if these people started becoming as outraged over their local politicians dishonoring their oath to the constitution as NIMBY’s become outraged over a zoning issue?
If “we the people” are ever going to have a Constitution that has any teeth in it, then “we the people” will have to give it meaning by acting at the local level and confronting local politicians who violate their oath. When the next local election comes up, the Constitution can be made the issue by making it known how many times an incumbent violated his or her oath.
Thursday 20 August 2009
by: Jason Leopold,
Hat tip: t r u t h o u t
Back in March, when House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers announced that he and his staff had reached an agreement to have Karl Rove and ex-White House counsel Harriet Miers testify privately about their roles in the firings of nine US attorneys, he said his panel also reserved the right to haul the former Bush administration officials before Congress to testify publicly about the matter.
Conyers is now considering taking advantage of that prearranged agreement. He and his staff have been engaged in talks that could result in Rove and Miers being called to testify before his panel sometime in the fall, according to several congressional sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Their expected appearance would mark the first time that senior Bush White House officials will testify publicly about a scandal that resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top Justice Department officials. Rove and Miers defied numerous congressional subpoenas seeking their sworn testimony over the past two years about the roles they played in the firings of the federal prosecutors.
Both Miers and Rove were subpoenaed by Conyers’s committee numerous times and were held in contempt of Congress for refusing to appear before the panel. They said Bush administration attorneys advised them they were protected by George W. Bush’s assertion of “absolute immunity” and were told not to appear before the committee.
If Rove and Miers are called to testify before Congress and refuse to appear than the agreement the Judiciary Committee entered into with the former officials would be considered breached and Congress “can resume the litigation,” Conyers said in a statement his office issued March 4, after his panel reached a negotiated settlement to secure Rove and Miers’ testimony. The parties agreed to stay the contempt case “until at least the completion of the [private interviews,” The Constitutional Law Prof Blog noted. The agreement between the Judiciary Committee and Rove and Miers begins on page 4 of Rove Exhibit 1.
Attorneys for Rove and Miers did not return messages left at their offices nor did they respond to emails seeking comment.