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March 14, 2007

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Whitman appeared twice in New York City after the September 11 attacks to inform New Yorkers that the toxins released by the attacks posed no threat to their health.[1] On September 18 the EPA released a report in which Whitman said, "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink."

The contempt that this Administration holds for the people whose duty it is to protect is beyond breathtaking

With the news trumpeted this evening that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has confessed to masterminding 9/11, though no reporters were allowed in to see the proceedings at Gitmo, and there is no public record of how the confession was obtained, please let me express my complete skepticism that this was not coerced using techniques approved by the current AG and crew. And we know how reliable confessions obtained in this manner are.

Here's the transcript of KSM's CSRT.

Worth reading. The whole thing's bizarre (See: repeated comparisons of self to George Washington). You can tell where they're redacting the allegations about torture and having made false confessions in CIA custody. (The tribunal president specifically asked about it.) He does make a series of confessions, though, that he says are not a result of duress, and which could well be true.

I may post on it eventually but it's bedtime now.

(Ramzi bin al Shibh and Abu Faraj al Libbi had CSRTs too, but didn't attend.)

They wouldn't release KSM's CSRT just to get Gonzalez off the front page, would they? Nah.

Paul at Wizbang! (NOLA local) pretty much owns the Army Corps of Engineers story. For a right-winger, he’s accessed blame where it needs to go from the beginning of this story. He has blame for everyone and all organizations, but saves most of it for the Corps and the Feds.

Specifically, he blames them for the bulk of the destruction. His entire archive on Katrina is worth a read – but if you only read one post read this one.

Ethel-to-Tilly:

Yes, the day after Whitman's proclamation (for which she has attempted repentance since leaving our employ), the Wall Street editorial page, that nest of anti-American hate merchants, extolled the statement as proof that the pulverized World Trade Center and the planes and the aerosoled people inhaled into the lungs of everyone in lower Manhatten posed no threat to health, and indeed all clean air regulations need to be reconsidered and, by the way, do we really need the EPA at all.

It was as if, in the eyes of the anti-government forces who defecate every day on to the editorial page of that pretty good newspaper, Al Qaeda had done America a service and maybe a little rhetorical cooperation between Osama Bin Laden and Paul Gigot could bring about the destruction of the true enemy of both: the U.S. Government.

I suspect when the third plane hit the Pentagon, there were Al Qaeda sympathasizers at the Journal who were wishing they were able to direct the plane into the Fish and Wildlife Service, thus furthering two revolutions.

Tangentially, Kevin Drum is discussing No Child Left Behind lately and via a link he lets Reed Hundt tell us about Bill Bennett and his refusal to help Hundt fund internet access to public schools. Bennett said he would most assuredly not do anything to improve public schools because he wanted them to fail so that they could be replaced by private and religious schools.

Who is the American Government's most dangerous enemy? Shouldn't we be scanning all packages and containers and air passenger lists for the real danger?

Incidentally, I notice Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confession was in the active voice, as in, "I masterminded..."

... whereas Gonzalez' and Bush's confessions about the Justice Department cock-up were in the passive voice, as in "Mistakes were made."

One thing about torture: at least the confessions sound convincing.

Thanks for this post, hilzoy. With all due respect to Paul at Wizbang, Matt McBride at Fix the Pumps is the go to guy on this story.

Of course, the company involved in the work has some interesting connections and history.

From the story.

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved.

oyster: Thanks for that link.

oyster: yes, thanks. That was very interesting.

My wife and I just got back on Friday night from a week in NOLA. We wanted to visit friends who live up by Magazine and Tchoupitoulas, my wife had some business there, I've always wanted to visit the city, so off we went.

The areas right by the river and upriver from downtown, where middle class and more-than-middle class folks live, are generally fine. The areas that were hardest hit by Katrina, where less well to do folks live, remain, a year and a half later, devastated. In the lower ninth you can, still, go block after block and see one house in 20 occupied, if that. It's a moonscape.

I talked to a number of people who live in the lower ninth, Arabi, and other areas either downriver or closer to the lake. Folks that have their own resources are, some of them, rebuilding. They are, more or less, pioneers, and are often the only people around for a couple of blocks.

Folks that don't have the resources to rebuild are SOL. They're living in FEMA trailers, they're living someplace else in NOLA, or they're just not coming back.

Low end rents are gone. People who used to pay 300-400 bucks a month are now looking at rents double or triple that amount.

Bottom line: if you're poor, or even just a plain old lower middle class working stiff, and you live in the parts of the city where folks like you live, most likely you're screwed. Nobody's helping those folks out. If folks in those areas want to come back, the city will let them, and will maybe run a temporary electric pole out so they can turn on their lights. Other than that, they're basically on their own. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no local place to buy furniture, clothing, or gasoline. No services above and beyond electric and water, and the electric's just become available quite recently. No hospitals nearby. Nothing but you and a lot of demolished houses.

There are a lot of cities in this country that exist in defiance of the prevailing natural conditions. LA, Las Vegas, and Phoenix don't have enough of their own water to support a hundredth of their populations. San Francisco could drop into the sea any day. Nobody in their right mind should really be living in coastal Florida. If the New Madrid earthquake happened today, everything from St Louis to Memphis would be flattened. Nobody says folks that live in those places should just suck it up or move.

But for the folks in NO who live downriver or back by the lake, the more or less universal message from the city, state, and federal government has been don't call me, I'll call you, and good luck.

If anyone wants to know what it actually looks like when you render government ineffective, either through cronyism, corruption, general stupidity, or drowning in a bathtub, go to NOLA, take St Claude Ave from the quarter downriver over the canal, and take a look around. That's what it looks like.

Thanks -

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