General Russel Honore was flanked by Fema chief Mike Brown, a political appointee with no experience in emergency operations and Michael Chertoff a politcal appointee with no previous experience in security operations at a press conference in New Orleans on Friday and televised by CNN.
Questions were being asked by reporters and Michael Chertoff deflected them by saying two things.
1). This was an “ultra emergency” and the breaching of the levees was a disaster upon a disaster that could not have been envisioned.
2). This was not the time to discuss who was to blame.
This theme was repeated with most questions.
Then one reporter asked why there were reports (apparently coming from Bobby Jindal who represents a New Orleans district) that rescue efforts in the neighborhoods were being hampered by beaucracy
Michael Chertoff began to speak but was immediately cut off by the General Honore who said that was “BS”. Honore went on a 2-minute tirade about the grand effort that was being made throughout the city to rescue people. He then “ordered” both Chertoff and Brown out of the room, actually interrupting Chertoff in mid sentence, saying something to the effect “were getting out of here”, Both Chertoff and Brown meekly and weakly obliged and followed the general in single file shuffling out of the room as if Honore were there father and they were his naughty children ages 2 and 4 who had been making a big, big mess of things that he had to come and clean up. The CNN reporter who came back from the live video feed called General Honores remarks, “strong and convincing.”
Perhaps the general is at the forefront of a new style of posturing by politicians and generals alike. The cussin’ tell it like it is John Wayne (an actor less we forget) type of dude. President Bush has his own loveable version.
It appears from all independent reports I have read however that the general was the one who was full of “BS”.
Though Honore has been anointed by sometimes plain speaking Mayor of New Orleans Nagin as a “John Wayne type of dude”, the truth is, according to the BBC ahref= and Democracy Now! ahref= and numerous other independent sources that little has been done in the neighborhoods by the government -except in a piecemeal chaotic way- even today, Tuesday. It is visible from all footage being shown on the networks that there is not a flotilla of boats rescuing people. In fact Harry Connick Jr. has effectively rescued people unnoticed by the professionals.
In fact, the rescue effort is completely disorganized and the army is looking for people at random and not in an organized block by block search. Video tape on Democracy Now on Monday shows a VOLUNTEER explaining to the ARMY search teams that they must use a grid to search for people on a block-by-block basis. The army search member stares up at the volunteer, mouth agape asking questions. The volunteer explains that you just can’t t wander aroundlooking for people to rescue. This is basic rescue procedure that anyone with common sense would grasp immediately.There is apparently no supervision of the rescue effort. Honore should have been aware of this.
The volunteers in the meantime are being harassed by other “official search teams” (who are apparently authorized to not know what they are doing) to get out of the area, as they are prohibited from being there.This implies that citizen volunteers are not trained in the art of …”putting a person in a boat”. Apparently this is something only a Navy seal can do or someone with training from the “School for the Americas” is capable of.
General Honore has used the same excuse that FEMA chief Brown and Homeland Security chief Chertoff have used that this was an unprecedented catastrophe and the response has been excellent, many people are being rescued and progress is being made. We need to suspend criticism and let the experts do their job.
Chertoff and Honore have both stated the company line, and I am paraphrasing “Do you want us to deal with the criticism of our lack of preparedness or do you want us to rescue people?”
My answer is NOW is time to criticize. Why should we continue to allow people who have demonstrated their incompetence to continue to be incompetent on the lame presumption that their incompetent efforts of rescue and relief will be hampered by criticism?
I couldn’t help but wonder if Mayor Nagin and General Honore had made some kind of deal or agreement to cover both their asses when the General arrived.
General Honore has demonstrated that he is first and foremost an ambitious John Wayne Dude who is more style than substance.