[Still blogging live from New Orleans]
Today's New York Times reports that the White House knew about the levee breaches earlier than they've let on:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.
But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.
Why is this important? First, it shows that from the very beginning, the administration hasn't been honest about its response to Katrina.
Second, it brings our attention back to the failed levees in New Orleans, which were the cause of the suffering. The city was devastated by the flooding which overtook 80% of the city, and the flooding was directly the result of poorly constructed and maintained federal levees.
As one community leader in New Orleans pointed out to us yesterday, this gives the proper perspective on who's responsible for the suffering -- and who should pay to make things right. The federal government should be paying for the housing of everyone displaced by the flood -- not with a stop-gap quilt of time-limited aid programs, but with real money -- $50,000? whatever it would take -- that would help people get back on their feet.
Anything else is an abgrogation of the federal government's responsibility. But as today's news shows, this administration hasn't wanted to take responsibility for anything related to the 2005 hurricanes from day one.