Again, it’s never too early for fingerpointing. The longer we wait, the longer the gestation period for mega-spin and political rhetoric.
So now, quite literally, it’s literally a he said she said thing.
And guess who loses?
Urge your media (like it will do any good…): Don’t let anybody off the hook!
This from the Washington Post:
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. “Quite frankly, if they’d been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,” said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said.
Aaaaaand this from the Al Franken Show (AirAmericaRadio) Blog:
We also played audio from BBC2’s NewsNight with Jeremy Paxman’s roundtable with Pippa Malmgren, former Bush economic adviser, and Sidney Blumenthal. Take a gander:
MALMGREN: I think the key here question is, what was the responsibility of the officials at the local level, as well.
PAXMAN: You’re not agreeing, then, with the proposition stops with the president.
MALMGREN: Not on emergency response. The bottom line is the president begged the governor of louisiana to declare a federal emergency. She declined. They declared a state emergency instead. This raised all kinds of issues in the federal government. It has been illegal since 1872 for the president to send federal troops into a state, unless the government requests their presence.
PAXMAN: Sidney Blumenthal, Technically, that’s correct, isn’t it?
BLUMENTHAL: No. It’s not only technically not correct, it’s factually incorrect. On August 26, Governor Blanco of Louisiana sent a letter to President Bush asking him to federalize the emergency. On the next day, August 27th, he sent a letter back confirming that he had indeed federalized the emergency. So, that indeed is what has happened.
PAXMAN: At that point, technically, the president was in charge, and he could have done what he wished.
BLUMENTHAL: He was in complete charge, and the governor had requested that he be in complete charge.