Saturday, September 10, 2005

Righties should pay attention to this Republican. I do.

Last month I wrote a post on Colin Powell entitled, Trading Honor for a Pack of Lies in which I described the admission by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's assistant that Powell had been fed intelligence which was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."

In the post I wrote

To this day, I believe that Colin Powell believed what he said, and if one could ask him I believe he would regret his propagation of a lie. As Secretary of State, he had an absolute right to know what anyone else in the administration knew, yet they knowingly fed him lies, and therefore fed him to the wolves.


Well, it happens that this week, Powell answered that question, and many others, in an wide-ranging interview he gave to ABC news.

In addition to his role in the run-up to the Iraq war, Powell discussed the response to Hurricane Katrina.

His insights are valuable, because they are correct. In fact, he also verified everything I wrote in the initial post when he said,

He told Walters that he feels "terrible" about the claims he made in that now-infamous address — assertions that later proved to be false.

When asked if he feels it has tarnished his reputation, he said, "Of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now."


Although he does not blame former FBI director George Tenet, he says,

"There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me."

Addressing the Katrina response, Powell said, "I think there have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels — local, state and federal. There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done. I don't think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don't know why."

Exactly right. The dangers to New Orleans have been documented in article after article, report after report, and yet requests for funds to maintain levees, build higher levees, and upgrade and build pumps and other drainage systems were routinely ignored by Congress, except to be cut. (see, the US news article, Why Didn't Anyone do Anything about the Warnings?. Al Naomi, a senior project manager for the New Orleans district of the Army Corps of engineers, told U.S. News in June that his proposal entitled, 'Benefits of category 5 Protection: Loss of Life Prevented; Makes evacuation manageable," (to upgrade protection in the city to withstand a level 5 hurricane) is still awaiting federal funding--for a feasibility study.

Powell also said, "When you look at those who weren't able to get out, it should have been a blinding flash of the obvious to everybody that when you order a mandatory evacuation, you can't expect everybody to evacuate on their own. These are people who don't have credit cards; only one in 10 families at that economic level in New Orleans have a car. So it wasn't a racial thing — but poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans in this country. And it happened because they were poor,"

Right again.

He also said that he was reluctant to go to war in Iraq, but once the President made the decision to do so, he supported it.

Now, there are some things I disagree with Mr. Powell strongly about, including his insistence that we must remain in Iraq, but clearly he stood, as I perceived him then, head and shoulders above the rest of the Bush administration.

And I was wrong about one thing in my August post. I ended by saying, To paraphrase MacArthur, (Powell)...is now just an old soldier fading away.

Apparently he isn't fading away after all. And that is a good thing.

7 comments:

Chuck said...

You know what all of the neo-cons will be saying about him now. It's inevitable.

Powell is right- there's a tarnish to his record now. A big one. He's guilty by association in the big picture.

We know he's intelligent. We know he had to have seen through the propaganda and lies he was about to argue for. What we don't know is what really went on behind the scenes. How hard did he rebel against it internally before going (being sent) to the U.N.?

I think deep down, he's a decent man, but the politics just got "over on him". And now he feels remorse. His best move was leaving that den of neo-cons after the first term.

In short, they turned him out.

Good, informative entry Eli.

dorsano said...

Another great post Eli - well done

**** said...

Yes, it's very sad to see these lies being spread at such a high level in our government; however, it gives a shard of hope when someone is willing to admit that they were wrong.

I don't think Colin Powell thinks that we should stay in Iraq solely for the sake of doing so. If I remember correctly he said that he is glad Saddam Hussein is gone, but now that the US government has made such a mess over there, we need to stay and support the Iraqis until
they are ready for us to go, which I think should be by the end of the year when the new constitution is ratified.

Anonymous said...

IDIOT
Here's a thought provoking article about what happened in New Orleans and the Gold Coast ..

Was President Bush Forced to Use the Insurrection Act? Written by Barbara J. Stock Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricanes do not sneak up on people. Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes don’t just reach down out of the dark storm clouds to wreak havoc on humanity. Hurricanes are tracked, named, have warning flags dedicated to them, and all coastal cities have long-standing plans for dealing with them. Nearly everyone in the world knew Katrina was going to hit Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and yet so many have died in New Orleans. Why? Hurricane Katrina struck the tip of southern Florida as a category 1 hurricane and made a beeline for the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. For three days Katrina churned her way across the Gulf, growing in size and strength until it was a monster storm. With sustained winds of over 175 mph, Katrina bore down on the city of New Orleans. Literally, at the last possible moment, Katrina was pushed, ever-so-slightly, by dry air from the Midwest, off to the East and dropped from a category 5 to a high category 4 with sustained winds of 150 mph. Katrina was still a killer storm by anyone’s description. For three long days, the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans watched Katrina bear down on their state and city respectively but took very little action to protect their citizens other than to state the obvious: “Leave town.” No assistance was offered to the poor or elderly. Aerial views of New Orleans have shown pictures of hundreds of buses, left parked and unused. Why didn’t the mayor of New Orleans activate those buses to move the people out of the city those who wanted to leave but had no way out? Why was this golden opportunity to save lives left parked, only to be lost to the floodwaters? This from the Louisiana disaster plan, pg. 13, paragraph 5, dated 01/00: “The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating'...” Why was the city’s own disaster plan for using those buses to evacuate people not implemented? Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin had three days to evacuate the poor and elderly from New Orleans but they did not. Why? While the governors of both Mississippi and Alabama put in a formal request for federal assistance before Katrina even made landfall, the governor of Louisiana refused to relinquish any of her power for the good of the people. Now she and her party point the finger of blame at the White House. Liberal blogs and websites are pointing to the Department of Homeland Security’s website which states that it can take control in any disaster, natural or otherwise, but this is not true. The Department of Homeland Security can only work with the state and local officials in organizing relief efforts such as food, water, and shelter. There is no military arm of the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the military is what was needed and everyone knew that. Instead of asking why the Democratic leaders of Louisiana failed the people, these sites post disgusting pictures of floating bodies with the message: “George Bush did nothing.” The truth is, the Democratic governor wouldn’t allow Bush to do anything. That floating body belongs to Governor Blanco. She is the one who “did nothing.”

Roving bands of violent criminals quickly took control of the streets. While Mayor Nagin did declare martial law, it was a toothless declaration. The New Orleans police department was instantly overwhelmed. Many policemen just threw up their hands and walked off the job. Some joined the looters and were videotaped by MSNBC “shopping” in the local Walmart. The handful that was left on the job did their best but the best they could do was try to stay alive in a now lawless and dying city. Because there was no one in charge, the initial rescue operations were feeble at best and there was chaos. The scope and magnitude of the disaster, which covers an area the size of Great Britain, still had not been realized by Governor Blanco who steadfastly refused to declare martial law and officially request that the federal government “send in the troops.” It has come to light that all during the night on Friday, September 2, the president of the United States was forced to “negotiate” with Governor Blanco for the lives of the suffering and dying people of New Orleans. She feared that allowing the federal government to take control would make her administration appear as though it had failed. How she would be judged was more important to her than the lives of those people who were dying in the squalor. How many died as Blanco maneuvered to protect her reputation? The Posse Comitatus Act prevents, by federal law, the president of the United States from sending federal troops into any state without the direct request of the elected governor of that state. A frustrated President Bush could only stand by and watch as the horror unfolded until he received the request for help. Despite the finger-pointing at President Bush, there was little that he could do until he was formally asked for assistance. No matter how loudly the liberals scream, they know full well that the president was helpless to do much of anything.

As the death toll rose and the animalistic behavior of some of those who chose to remain within the city became public knowledge, it was obvious that authorities needed to regain control. As the scenes from New Orleans, now a national disgrace, were being beamed around the world, a shameless Governor Blanco only cared about her own political image. There is reason to believe that President Bush, running out of patience with Blanco by Saturday morning, used the only option that remained to him. It is being reported that Bush went around Blanco and utilized the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard and send in active military troops to take over the rescue and put down the lawlessness that had taken over New Orleans. The forces that Bush had poised to move into the city, swung into action. It was no accident that the major, organized rescues began when the sun came up on Saturday morning. At 6:30 AM, when the sky over New Orleans was suddenly filled with military helicopters and military convoys poured into the streets, they were there because of President Bush, not Governor Blanco. The largest military evacuation the world has ever seen moved with the precision and efficiency that is only seen within the military. With men like Lt. General Russel Honore, 1st Army Commander and Army Brigadier General Mark Graham in charge, law and order was quickly restored, and an endless line of helicopters and boats began removing the stranded people and taking them out of the hell-hole called New Orleans. Those forces were ready to act because the President of the United States had positioned them to be ready. Everyone demands answers and everyone wants to put the blame for this catastrophe on someone. The most convenient person to blame is President Bush. In truth, he is the least responsible on the local level. While the liberals feel this is the perfect time to make political hay because so many African-Americans are involved, the first line of defense for those people, the mayor of New Orleans, and governor of Louisiana, both Democrats, are the leaders that failed them. The people of New Orleans were abandoned by an arrogant governor and a hapless mayor as both struggled to save their own political careers. But, because they are both Democrats, the leftists want these ineffective leaders seen as helpless victims of a thoughtless and racist Bush who ignored their repeated pleas for help. Mayor Nagin has been reduced to babbling about how the CIA is out to kill him because he “spoke his mind,” and Governor Blanco has become the invisible woman hoping that no one will notice that her gross incompetence and arrogance cost lives. But the left marches on, blaming President Bush because it knows it can. Most Americans are not aware of the laws preventing the federal government from “taking over” a city or a state. The Democrats have closed ranks around their incompetent members and blame the president who was forced to “deal” with an inept governor. Governor Blanco’s thanks is to point the finger of blame back at the president when she knows the fault is her own. The Democratic Party could not possibly sink much lower than it has this past week. The mayor, the governor, and all those liberal websites, blogs, and shrieking leftist politicians should jump into the sewer water that now flows in the streets of New Orleans. That’s where they belong, with the rest of the floating waste. The Democratic or “Progressive” Party should be buried with the dead. Cause of death: Gross incompetence, asphyxiation from lies, and the failure to accept responsibility for the deaths of thousands of American citizens because power meant more to them than lives.

Eli Blake said...

Anonymous:

OK.

Are you quite over your ranting?

Let's take this a point at a time:

1. This is a post about the Colin Powell interview. What has this got to do with him?

2. True enough that the Mayor failed to use the buses, and were slow to respond. And Powell was right about that, as I quoted in the article. However, that does not let the President off the hook. He was even slower. I know this because I have my Arizona Republic from Tuesday, August 30 right here. Bush was here, and he was stumping for his Medicare prescription drug 'benefit' (you know, the trillion dollar boondoggle passed last year that sends a ton of tax money to the drug companies, and now he is trying to shore it up since it turns out that only half of seniors are even signing up for it at all). In the speech, he talked about pharmaceuticals, Iraq and energy policy and made a two line reference to Katrina. Now, granted, this what he said on Monday while the storm was hitting. But, on the NEXT day, while it was clear what the tragedy was (in fact this was also in Tuesday's paper, published in the wee hours of the morning), he was in California giving exactly the same speech about drug coverage. So, by that time, it was well known that a major American city had been destroyed and he was out running around talking about Medicare.

3. FEMA took six days to get much aid into coastal Mississippi, too (and it wasn't even below sea level). And, two hundred are confirmed dead there. Oh, but the governor there is a Republican, so I guess you will conveniently ignore the slow pace of relief efforts there.

4. As to the buses not being used (and yes, they should have) the point needs to be made that the designated shelters were already full and there was no place for them to go (so clearly the billions spent on Homeland Security were spent poorly-- the same problem would have cropped up in case of a nuclear attack). Had they left, and simply travelled north on the highway, and had the hurricane not flooded the city but had caught a convoy of buses on the open road and killed hundreds that way, you would be all over the mayor now for HAVING ordered them used.

5. And now the big one: The biggest indictment of Bush and conservatives has to do with something that was done, in some cases, years before the hurricane. The 2001 FEMA report that identified a hurricane New Orleans as the most likely catastrophic disaster in America recommended that in addition to evacuation procedures being drawn up and enabled, that the city's levees and drainage systems be strengthened. Were they? NO, their budgets were CUT! CUT! CUT! Every year they were cut. Now I have heard people say that the 17th street levy was not one of the projects presently on tap. True, but one reason is that due to the budget cuts the pace of projects has slowed to a snails pace. Further, upgrading the drainage system by means of putting in more and new pumps in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes WAS scheduled and was postponed due to budget cuts. So, however poorly the emergency was handled, it was conservatives who made it worse than it had to be by cutting the budgets and therefore not having as many pumps (especially new pumps) in place as there would have been.

**** said...

I'm surprised I actually read "anonymous's" posting. Honestly, he or she needs to get out and do something.

You know, Eli, you can delete comments that are off-topic, or in this case, just plain stupid.

That's a comprehensive response on your part though. :)

Eli Blake said...

I know I can, Daniel.

But I prefer to let posts stay up. The only ones I have deleted are ones that are either 1) spam, or 2) use offensive language or personally attack another poster. (I want to keep the debate civil). Yeah, I know he called me a name, but I usually consider that a sign that he can't come up with something more intelligent to say.