Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Tonight I have two separate postings instead of one because I did not want to demean Mr. Greg Palast, author of “Armed Madhouse” by putting excerpts of his work on the same page as revelations about Tom DeLay and his FAMILY’S, mind you, astonishing hypocritical and soul selling corruption.

The article posted below is a series of excerpts from Mr. Palast’s new book on fraud in our government.

Mr. Palast's book reveals how the Bush GOP is determined to invade oil producing countries to both obtain and control the resource, how they intend to steal elections and how media biases keep Mr. Palast's findings unreported.

I posted Mr. Palast’s biography a few days ago. You can find it below. LS

Excerpts of excerpts:

The Rev. Pat Robertson got a piece of the action. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Web site encouraged those wanting to help victims to donate to the charities he controls. Within the week, the Navy penned a half-billion-dollar contract for reconstruction work with Halliburton. More would come. Our President, as he does in any emergency situation, announced additional tax cuts. He ordered immediate write-offs for new equipment used in rebuilding. That will likely provide a relief for Halliburton, but the deductions were useless to small New Orleans businesses which had no income to write off. The oil majors, the trillion-dollar babies, won a $700 million tax break. Don't think of hurricanes as horrors, but as opportunities. For the schoolchildren among the refugees, instead of schools, our President promised school "vouchers" on a grand scale. And there was a bonus. Louisiana had been a "purple" state- neither a solid Republican Red nor Democratic Blue. It was up for grabs politically. With a Democratic Senator and a new Democratic Governor, Louisiana was ready to lead the South out of the GOP. Louisiana's big blue Democratic splotch was enclosed within the city below sea level.

In 2001, Bush made Joe Allbaugh FEMA's chief and the two of them converted the agency into something more exciting, a front-line command center in the War on Terror, dissolving the agency into the Department of Homeland Security. And that's when the unexciting emergency planning work was put up for sale. (Allbaugh quit in 2003 and turned the Wal-Marted FEMA over to his old college roommate, Michael Brown, an executive with the Arabian Horse Association.) It wasn't in the Times, but a year before the hurricane, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA signed a half-million-dollar contract with a private operator to write up "a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for the City of New Orleans," says the press release. Their plan was innovative. We know it was innovative because the work was handed to a company called "Innovative Emergency Management." Innovative Emergency Management, said a company release, had "teamed" with expert James Lee Witt, the renowned Clinton FEMA chief, which was good news for New Orleans. The bad news was, it wasn't true. Witt, despite IEM's press release, said he was not part of the Innovative "team."

No matter. Innovative Emergency Management's founder, president and CEO, Madhu Beriwal, I believe, owns an umbrella and she's an exceptionally experienced donor to the Republican party. She has more campaign committee citations, including donations to Senator Vitter, than evacuation plans to her name. Maybe she has extraordinary credentials for saving a city from flood, but when we called seeking her experience and credentials, we got nothing.

IEM's press release, besides the fib about Witt, made this utterly truthful point: Given this area's vulnerability and elevation...a plan that facilitates a rapid and effective hurricane response is critical. Amen to that.

So I called IEM in Baton Rouge to see their critical and innovative plan that was supposed to be complete well before Katrina's landfall. The Wal-Mart of disaster prep couldn't get me a copy. In fact, they couldn't say if they had it. Nor if the City of New Orleans had it. Or if Senator Vitter or anyone had it or if it existed.

Could they tell me the name of someone at FEMA who had the evacuation plan? They hesitated, so I prompted, "Well, who do you call if there's an emergency?" The question stumped them. And it stumped FEMA, which wouldn't provide me a copy. The problem, I was informed, was that they couldn't confirm it existed.

There is nothing new under the sun. A Republican president going for the photo op as the Mississippi rolls over New Orleans. It was 1927, and President Calvin Coolidge sent Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, "a little fat man with a notebook in his hand," who mugged for the cameras and promised to build the city a wall of protection. They had their photos taken. Then they left to play golf with Ken Lay or, rather, the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.


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