Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 8, 2006

New Katrina docs on ‘Disaster’ website

Filed under: Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on August 8, 2006

The website for the new book Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security (mentioned in this post last week) contains links to a number of primary documents related to the response to Hurricane Katrina that until now haven’t seen the light of day (or perhaps have been overlooked). These includes e-mails sent from the White House Homeland Security Council, complete transcripts of key video teleconferences, and a Senate HSGAC interview with former HSOC chief Matthew Broderick where he admits that DHS didn’t realize that the Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center were different sites until Thursday:

Q: At 7:00 p.m. or sometime thereafter on Wednesday night, CNN was reporting 3,000 people at the convention center. Was there any awareness on Wednesday night, to your recollection, of 3,000 plus people at the convention center?

A: No. In fact, we actually and initially were confusing the Superdome with the convention center. We didn’t realize that it was a separate entity. Even on Thursday, we were sorting it out.

Q: Thursday morning–I don’t have the video to show you–but there was video on CNN and other networks of the people at the convention center. Do you recall that coming through the HSOC?

A: I think that’s what triggered me was what’s going on at the convention center? Who are these people? I remember catching it, and you know, I only saw when I was walking back and forth from my office to another point. I would try to catch something that was on the news because it was constant, and I said, “What is this convention center? Is that the Superdome?” And people were trying to sort that out, and that’s what started the process.

The exchanges between the Senate investigators and DHS Counsel is also very interesting, with the DHS lawyers interjecting when questioning refers to the White House (and admitting that these instructions come directly from the White House), and the Senate investigators refusing constantly to accept these ground rules throughout the interview, and trying to pry the source of these instructions out of the DHS lawyers.

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