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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Pathetic Even for McClellan

From today's WH briefing....

When was the President informed, warned by the National Hurricane Center or other agencies, that Katrina was a hurricane that could overtop the levees in New Orleans?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I appreciate you wanting to get into some of the factual tick-tock questions and things of that nature. I think we were keeping you updated throughout that time period, and if you remember, there were a number of people that, Monday, felt that the initial storm, which was the hurricane hitting the coast and then hitting the New Orleans area and Mississippi and Alabama and parts of Florida, that at that point, that New Orleans may be -- well, the flooding had not come at that point. And many people were talking about how --

Q You're the federal government -- if you want to get into tick-tock, the Army Corps of Engineers knew Monday morning that the 17th Street flood wall along that canal had given way. My question is different, it's about getting prepared for that.

MR. McCLELLAN: A lot of the media reports coming out --

Q When did the President know that Katrina was the kind of hurricane that could overtop the levees?

MR. McCLELLAN: A lot of the media reports that were coming out Monday, Monday night, Tuesday morning were expressing that it had missed the massive flooding that some had projected in a worst-case scenario.

Q The President of the United States was getting his information about this major disaster from the media?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, I'm just pointing out -- because you're trying to point out some things and I'm trying to point out, back to that time, if you'll recall, and just put that in perspective. The President was getting regular updates from people in the region and from people here in Washington, D.C.

Q But you can't tell me when he was -- was he told by Max Mayfield or others on Saturday or Sunday, Mr. President, this is the big one, this could really flood New Orleans. When did he hear that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely, Terry. He got on the phone with Governor Blanco at 9:00 a.m. -- I think it was around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. And if you'll recall -- in fact, let me pull back up some of what the President said at the time, because maybe you weren't there covering him at the time, but some of your colleagues were. And the President specifically addressed this issue when he said that -- let me have one second here and I'll get it for you -- Sunday morning, in his news conference, "We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses to the Gulf Coast communities. I urge all citizens to put their own safety and the safety of their families first, by moving to safe ground. Please listen carefully to instructions provided by state and local officials." At 9:00 a.m. that morning, he was on the phone with Governor Blanco. Governor Blanco even talked about it at her briefing later that day, I think it was early afternoon, and said, the President urged me to take steps to evacuate the people in New Orleans.


Notice that McClellan didn't even bother to pretend he was answering the question about Mayfield.



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