An IEM press
release in June 2004 boasted legendary expert James Lee Witt as
a member of their team. That was impressive. It was also a
lie. In fact, Witt had nothing to do with it. When I asked IEM
point blank if Witt's name was used as a fraudulent hook to get
the contract, their spokeswoman said, weirdly, "We'll get back
to you on that."
Back at LSU, van
Heerden astonished me with the most serious charge of all.
While showing me huge maps of the flooding, he told me the White
House had withheld the information that, in fact, the levees
were about to burst and by Tuesday at dawn the city, and more
than a thousand people, would drown.
Van Heerden said, "FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o'clock that the
levees had breached… They took video. By midnight on Monday the
White House knew. But none of us knew ...I was at the State
Emergency Operations Center." Because the hurricane had missed
the city that Monday night, evacuation effectively stopped,
assuming the city had survived.
It's been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in
FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city's
former residents, remain in temporary refuges. "The City That
Care Forgot" -- that's their official slogan -- lost a higher
percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would
be more accurate to call it, "The City That Bush Forgot."
Should they come home? Rebuild? Is it safe? Team Bush assures
them there's nothing to worry about: FEMA won't respond to van
Heerden's revelations. However, the Bush Administration has
hired a consulting firm to fix the failed evacuation plan. The
contractor? A Baton Rouge company named "Innovative Emergency
Watch this special investigative report about Katrina on
Democracy Now! this morning or hear it on your
local Pacifica or NPR station. You can also download it at
And catch the one-hour special report, "Who Drowned New
LinkTV, with Greg Palast in New Orleans plus an exclusive
interview with Amy Goodman. (Get it on Direct TV
channel 375 and Dish TV channel 9410. Or check your cable
listing at LinkTV.com.)
And for more on IEM and Katrina, read Greg Palast's new NYT
Madhouse" (Penguin 2006).
A Jacquie Soohen
BigNoise Films Production, produced by Matt Pascarella.
And very, very, special
thanks to our
on this particular story -- without their generosity and
financial support this report would not have been possible.
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