It’s worth noting the article covers the specific issue of why there were delays sending in more troops. It doesn’t deal with the FEMA lapses. But the more I hear from readers who have some knowledge of the relevant law, the more I get the impression that the White House was making aid contingent on the governor declaring that a portion of her state was facing a domestic insurrection and turning it over to the authority of the president.
But like I said, I’d like to know more. The Times article left me with too little context or explanation from outside sources as to whether the claims of the administration sources were reasonably based in the law.
As long as we’re on the subject, here’s a note I just got from TPM Reader EJ on the Times article …
Hi, I’m regular reader. I’m writing regarding your 9/9/2005 1:05 AM post Re the story in the Times. A couple of things struck me reading this story. One is that it seems to present a narrative of kathleen Blanco resisting federal authority (and therefore timely aid) but if you close read the text it actually says that Federal officials were certain that she WOULD resist federal control (and that taking this control might have political consequences). The only quote from Blanco (and almost the only information sourced to Blanco)attests that she thought she had requested all possible aid. The article’s lede suggests negotiations between state and federal authorities, but unless i’m mistaken, it reads more like the feds were negotiating with themselves.
I’m not at all certain that I’m reading this correctly, and I am concerned. If Blanco did put up unnecessary impediments to aid then she certainly shares more of the blame than I had thought. But, if this is true it seems like it would have become the centerpiece of the adminstration’s blame deflecting strategy and as such would have gotten more play than the completely false (and easily disproven) “no state of emergency declared” tactic.
The Times clearly got some good access for that piece. But they need to follow up because their narrative was confusing and raised more questions than it answered.