Friday, August 3, 2007

Who was in charge at State?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has just released a matrix on foreign contributions that were accepted or denied in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Using FOIA requests, they were able to put together thousands of documents to create a unified look at the world's response to the disaster. They also collected e-mails from officials around the globe.

According to CREW

The matrix includes all international offers, whether they were rejected or accepted and the reasons why, if available. The documents reveal a number of disturbing responses to offers from 145 countries and 12 international organizations from around the world.

For example, an email from Jeffrey Goldstein, a U.S. Embassy official in Estonia, to several DOS officials, states:

It is getting downright embarrassing here not to have a response to the Estonians on flood relief. And now I see from the staff meeting notes that the task force may disband soon. We know that what the Estonians can offer is small potatoes and everyone at FEMA is swamped, but at this point even “thanks but no thanks” is better than deafening silence.

Another email responding to an offer from Argentina to DOS officials reads “All, The (sic) word here is that doctors of any kind are in the 'forget about it' category. Human assistance of any kind is not on our priorities list....It’s all about goods, not people, at this point.”

Another email describes how the transport of Israeli relief supplies loaded on a C-130 aircraft was delayed for over 48 hours on the tarmac while Israeli officials waited for clearance from the U.S. government. The unidentified author states: “I’ve been on the phone with the [Israeli] attache every couple of hours since noon . . . they’re patient, but not amused by our delay, obviously.” The documents do not reveal if or how the issue was resolved.

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director said today, “A review of the State Department documents reveals distressing ineptitude. Countries were trying to donate desperately needed goods and services, but as a result of bureaucratic bungling and indifference, those most in need of these generous offers of aid never received it.”

The State Department as you may recall, has been headed by Condoleeza Rice since the beginning of Bush's second term. Condoleeza Rice left for vacation on Wednesday, August 31, 2005. Get that? On the first two days of the hurricane crisis, Condi was on the job. But on Wednesday morning she woke up, said to herself 'all's well at the office' and flew to New York to buy some shoes and take in a Broadway show.


dguzman said...

Well, given the current up-is-down, sun-rises-in-the-west government we have, I'd say let's give Condi a medal.

Also--just read that Harry Reid is trying to get $250million for the reconstruction in Minnesota, although the yearly limit for such aid is $100million. Did anyone try to do this kind of thing for NOLA/Miss/Ala after Katrina? Ever?

Anonymous said...

Great post! I haven't seen this covered anywhere else!

At some point, I feel like it's got to be too much.

But the American people are numb, I guess.

We like to tell ourselves that we're too civilized for outright rebellion. Rebellion, real rebellion is so 1960s.

I don't think we're civilized, I think we're numb and lazy and so overfed we can't see a way to get off our lard asses to do anything.

Distributorcap said...

didnt they deliver ice to the wrong place and left it there -- didnt they have unused trailers, didnt they reject help from Cuba because it was well --- Cuba

they = Bush, Cheney, Condi and Brownie --- four horses asses of New Orleans apocalypse.

oh i hope Bush is enjoying a mint julep at the rebuilt mansion of Trent Lott and i also hope his dick falls off -- both of his "dicks"

Bubs said...

What a good, if infuriating and heartbreaking, post.

I spent a week working in New Orleans a few days after Katrina, and went back last spring to help gut homes. I'm still sickened by our government's response.