This has been known for some time but through FOIA’s CREW has uncovered the extent to which the Bush administration delayed, declined and failed to collect foreign aid pledged after Katrina.The Washington Post reports that CREW obtained over “10,000 pages of cables, telegraphs and e-mails from U.S. diplomats around the globe” and made them available to the paper. It is damning evidence of yet another Katrina failure by the administration of which CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “It’s clear that they’re trying to hide their ineptitude, incompetence and malfeasance.”
Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold
for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster
victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors.
Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil.
Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the
Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic
limits on how it can be spent.
In addition, valuable supplies and
services — such as cellphone systems, medicine and cruise ships —
were delayed or declined because the government could not handle them.
In some cases, supplies were wasted.
In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to
tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical
supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina’s landfall on
Aug. 29, 2005, and were destroyed. “Tell them we blew it,” one
disgusted official wrote. But she hedged: “The flip side is just to
dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded.”
In another instance, the Department of Homeland Security accepted an
offer from Greece on Sept. 3, 2005, to dispatch two cruise ships that
could be used free as hotels or hospitals for displaced residents. The
deal was rescinded Sept. 15 after it became clear a ship would not
arrive before Oct. 10. The U.S. eventually paid $249 million to use
Carnival Cruise Lines vessels.
And while television sets
worldwide showed images of New Orleans residents begging to be rescued
from rooftops as floodwaters rose, U.S. officials turned down countless
offers of allied troops and search-and-rescue teams. The most common
responses: “sent letter of thanks” and “will keep offer on hand,” the
new documents show.
Overall, the United States
declined 54 of 77 recorded aid offers from three of its staunchest
allies: Canada, Britain and Israel, according to a 40-page State
Department table of the offers that had been received as of January
There is more and I highly recommend reading the whole article.
It is gut wrenching to learn that offers of troops and search and rescue teams were declined when they were so badly needed. Since last April the remains of at least 25 bodies have been discovered in New Orleans. Just this week the Orleans Parish coroner stated he expects more will be found and there are still homes that are untouched since Katrina. There were people who returned home months after Katrina to find the decaying remains of family members. And then there was Kimberly Polk. She had been searching months for her missing 5 year old daughter Sarena. She knew her search had ended when she learned from news accounts that a child’s body had been found in debris on March 24, 2006 still wearing a backpack. Sarena always wore her blue backpack. Her body had been found by a search and rescue team. Bless the individuals and dogs who did this work. But the backing of the leaders in the federal government was not there to back them. To say the Bush administration mismanaged it would be too kind. Theirs was an abject neglect of responsibilityand the suffering incurred as a result is unquantifiable. When the history is written it will be considered a shameful stain on America.
Just think what almost a billion in foreign aid could have done for the Gulf Coast. But it was simply turned down or lost to those in such great need then and now by an incompetent and arrogant administration. I hope someone has to go before Congress and explain but I’d rather each and everyone of them explain to Kimberly Polk…