Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today released the following statement on new video obtained by the Associated Press that clearly shows President Bush being briefed about the dangers posed by Hurricane Katrina and the possible devastation in its aftermath. This video directly contradicts previous Administration assertions about when they knew of the threat posed by the hurricane, and calls into question Administration claims about their response.
“Never has the need for an independent and thorough investigation into the government failures surrounding Hurricane Katrina been more plainly demonstrated than today. This Administration has for months rejected calls for any outside investigation and now we know why – this new video shows that they have systematically misled the American people to hide their own incompetence. Two Republican investigations into Katrina have been completed. Two reports have been issued. It is now apparent that both have only scratched the surface. This Administration has a lot to answer for, and America must learn the truth.”
Bush Infamously Claimed No One Anticipated Breach of the Levees. “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will.” [Washington Post, 9/1/05]
But Bush Participated in Detailed Briefings Before Katrina Struck. “In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, risk lives in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage of the briefings. Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on Aug. 29 but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: ‘We are fully prepared.'” [AP, 3/1/06]