Train Wreck Advisory: Kerik to appear tonight on Lou Dobbs.
We've already gotten a stack of submissions and additions for our timeline project. So please, keep them coming.
But I have another request.
As we discussed last night, there are now clear signs of an administration attempt to invoke a press blackout on what is happening within the disaster zone.
With thousands of bodies under the water in New Orleans, I will not be so myopic as to say that this is the story to focus on. In fact, though, it's close. Because if the attempt succeeds the public will lose the ability to know the facts about what happened in this tragic episode -- the facts about what happened, how it happened, why it happened. As I said last night, having failed to ameliorate the tragedy as it occurred, the administration now seems dead-set on sanitizing and concealing the details of what transpired.
So, if you see press reports of bans on press access of any kind, please send them in to us. Second, if you're a reporter on the scene -- or anyone on the scene who has relevant information, for that matter -- and you have more details you can share about what's happening, please send them in. Your anonymity will be assured.
The Shame: Congress opts for GOP-controlled Katrina investigation, calls for independent investigation rejected.
Give to worthy charities, like for instance, my reelection campaign.
From the Dallas Morning News ...
Gov. Rick Perry, in hurricane relief tours around the state, in news releases and on his official state Web site, has urged Texans to contribute to three groups: the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the OneStar Foundation.
The last of those is a volunteer-coordinating effort founded by Mr. Perry. His prominent promotion of his own foundation has prompted some to question whether the governor is trying to benefit politically from the outpouring of sympathy and good works in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"One thing about politicians, you can never overestimate their shamelessness," said Fred Lewis, director of Campaigns for People, a group that favors greater disclosure of political donations and limits on the influence of large donors.
Mr. Perry created OneStar as a nonprofit charitable organization in January 2004 to coordinate faith-based initiatives and promote volunteerism. Its chief executive is Susan Weddington, who left the state Republican Party chairmanship to run the organization.
At first the evidence was scattered and anecdotal. But now it's pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush administration's takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press access to report the story.
First, there were the FEMA orders barring members of the press from photographing anything to do with the recovery of the bodies of the dead.
Perhaps there could be guidelines about photographs which in any way clearly identified the deceased. No one wants to get first confirmation of the death of a loved one by seeing their body on the nightly news. But a blanket ban serves only to prevent the public from knowing what really happened last week. And the right of FEMA or any branch of the federal government for that matter to issue such a ban on American soil seems highly dubious to me. It's one thing with military casualties: the military operates under its own legal code and not under normal civilian rules. But this is happening on American soil. This isn't a war zone. Nor is it any longer a situation where police or National Guard troops are in the midst of retaking control from mobs or looters. This is a recovery from a natural disaster.
Now comes this post from Brian Williams, which suggests a general effort to bar reporters from access to many of the key points in the city.
Take a moment to note what's happening here: these are the marks of repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism. The crew that couldn't get key aid on the scene in time last week is coming in in force now. And one of the key missions appears to be cutting off public information about what's happening in the city.
This is a domestic, natural disaster. Absent specific cases where members of the press would interfere or get in the way of some particular clean up operation, or perhaps demolition work, there is simply no reason why credentialed members of the press should not be able to cover everything that is happening in that city.
Think about it.
WARNING: Do Not Read the Following Post If You Are Now Or Are About to Consume a Beverage. This <$NoAd$> Post Reveals High-Level BS, Which May Not Be Appropriate For Some Readers Prone to Spit-takes. Proceed With Caution ...
Allbaugh flew to the Gulf Coast last week. His spokeswoman, Patti Giglio, said he went to coordinate private-sector relief, but did not give specifics.
âHe is putting his shoulder to the wheel to mobilize the private sector, getting stuff in, getting what needs to be done done,â she said, adding that he is not there to help his clients secure government contracts. âThe first thing he says when he sits down with a client is, âDonât hire me if youâre looking for a government contract.ââ
For all that went wrong the last couple weeks down on the Gulf Coast, there's still at least one thing to be grateful for: Bernard Kerik could have been DHS Secretary instead of Michael Chertoff. And as poor a performance as Chertoff may have put in, I doubt he has too many mob cronies and he's clearly got some managerial experience. And, heck, we don't even have to get into Judith Regan, which is more than you can say for Kerik.
But now it seems they've brought Kerik out of mothballs to float some new Bush talking points. Heck, maybe they'll make him head of FEMA. I hear that job's opening up. And for all I know maybe he went into a public corruption 12 Step Program after last fall. So who knows? Maybe he can keep his nose clean this time.
Anyway, TPM Reader JU tells me that Bernie was on Keith Olbermann last night and floated this line.
They knew five days, six days in advance there was a category 5 storm. In a post-9/11 world, did they have protocols to evacuate? Was there a mandatory evacuation call? Did they have buses lined up? Did they have food and water lined up? These are all things that crisis managers had this day and age have to have. And I think there may be a question whether that was done or not.
A collaborative project.
I had hoped to get this posted earlier today. But better late than never, I guess. Here's a bare-bones Katrina timeline we've just posted, with links to key events and developments over the last two weeks.
What we're going to do over the coming days is build the timeline out, collaboratively, with our readers. Take a look at the timeline. There are many key events that still aren't listed.
Identify the key events, as many crucial details possible and a link or links to very the key facts. Send them to us at the email address at the top of the timeline. Our crack research team will verify them and add them to the timeline. If you see errors or additions that should be made, let us know that too.
We hope to start updating this evening.
Rudy gets his card punched.