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Friday, September 09, 2005

I'm going to try a briefer post on "Political Issues Snarled Plans for Military Help After Hurricane" By ERIC LIPTON, ERIC SCHMITT and THOM SHANKER in the NYTimes

I think that this is a terrible article devoted to retailing spin from anonymous Bush administration sources. Josh Marshall notes that it *still* makes the Bush administration look bad. Lipton Schmitt and Shanker certainly don't bury the lede. I think a little editing makes matters very clear.

As New Orleans descended into chaos last week and Louisiana's governor asked for 40,000 soldiers, President Bush's senior advisers debated whether the president should speed the arrival of active-duty troops by seizing control of the hurricane relief mission from the governor.

For reasons of practicality and politics, officials at the Justice Department and the Pentagon, and then at the White House, decided not to urge Mr. Bush to take command of the effort. Instead, the Washington officials decided to rely on the growing number of National Guard personnel flowing into Louisiana, who were under Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's control.


"I need everything you have got," Ms. Blanco said she told Mr. Bush last Monday, after the storm hit.

In an interview, she acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers. "Nobody told me that I had to request that," Ms. Blanco said. "I thought that I had requested everything they had. We were living in a war zone by then."

By Wednesday, she had asked for 40,000 soldiers.


Justice Department lawyers, who were receiving harrowing reports from the area, considered whether active-duty military units could be brought into relief operations even if state authorities gave their consent - or even if they refused.


On the issue of whether the military could be deployed without the invitation of state officials, the Office of Legal Counsel, the unit within the Justice Department that provides legal advice to federal agencies, concluded that the federal government had authority to move in even over the objection of local officials.

So the Governor has requested military personal according to the ordinary English meaning of the word "everything" and then in detail after idiot lawyers pretened tgat they didn't understand the word and yet Bush administration lawyers are discussing what could be done in the absence of such a request.

What is going on ? Are the anonymous sources lying to the NYT reporters trying to convince them that Blanco did not request active duty military personel ? Or are they confessing to a monumental failure of communication within the Bush administration where action waited on the findings of lawyers who had not been informed of the most basic fact at hand ? Which is worse ?

Aside from that, does anyone expect anyone with a brain to believe that concern about legal nicities would stop the Bush administration from doing something it wanted to do ? And how is it that, while lawyers appear to have been ignorant of the basic facts, they now present an ultrarefined analysis which concludes that Bush did everything he could do under the law and nothing more. That is where in the Posse Comitatus act and where in the insurrection act does it say that it is ok for active duty military personel to perform a bit of police work but not a lot so it is ok to send them now that things have calmed down but wasn't ok before ? I mean the law doesn't usually say you can break this law a little bit but not a lot. Isn't it more likely that the Bushies were using the Posse Comitatus act as an excuse to not send in the 82nd airborn and, when that didn't work and the governor refused to hand over control of the national guard to feds who had demonstrated infinite incompetence, looker around for something, anything, that had changed so they could change their "interpretation" of the law without admiting that they had made a mistake or, more likely, been lying all along.

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