Thursday, November 19, 2009

When Accountability Is A Plague - 2

We have opined on the disasters that are spawned when accountability goes the way of the dinosaurs, because a lack of accountability destroys democracy.

There was a trickle of accountability yesterday when a federal judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers negligently caused much, if not most, of the damage done to American citizens who lived in New Orleans when hurricane Katrina hit.

The American citizens of New Orleans lost loved ones, pets, friends, jobs, and homes due to government negligence.

But that trickle of accountability is akin to the much smaller trickle of accountability for the Bush II crime situations such as lying to congress to get us into endless wars at the behest of the warmongers, to get us into torture in violation of our own criminal laws as well as treaty law, and to lead us into the financial disaster that has stripped us of our national financial sovereignty. The federal judge, in a 156 page opinion, held that:
The Corps had an opportunity to take a myriad of actions to alleviate this deterioration or rehabilitate this deterioration and failed to do so. Clearly the expression “talk is cheap” applies here. In the event the gross negligence of the Corps in maintaining the MRGO would be regarded as policy, then the discretionary function exception would swallow the Federal Torts Claim Act leaving it an emasculated statute applying to automobile accidents where government employees are involved or medical malpractice where a government physician is involved. This was clearly not the intent of Congress. Safety concerns are not a talisman in deciding whether to apply the discretionary function exception, but certainly are a very significant consideration. Here, there was no balancing or weighing of countervailing considerations. The failure to maintain the MRGO properly compromised the Reach 2 Levee and created a substantial risk of catastrophic loss of human life and private property due to this malfeasance. Nothing the Corps has introduced into evidence tips the balance in its favor.
(IN RE KATRINA CANAL BREACHES CONSOLIDATED LITIGATION, page 148, PDF). There was nothing in the evidence that would tip the balance of the case to the favor of The Army Corps of Engineers.

Fine, however, I have some evidence that should expand the liability to those who consider themselves to be too elite to fail or to be bothered by the "quaint notion of accountability".

In a post here entitled "When Accountability Is A Plague", we pointed out that a new corruption is creeping into Washington D.C. federal government culture or tradition.

That new corrupt neoCon ideology boils down to a notion that no administration can prosecute any past administration for any "policy decisions", which, translated out of propaganda into plain talk means "crimes committed by those too elite to fail".

I will now show that the Bush II regime caused and ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to be grossly negligent, which led to the destruction in New Orleans, and which has now led to the federal court decision.

I was in New Orleans before Katrina. I was looking to purchase a rental property in the French Quarter. I found many bargains. But I had read many scientific papers, which got more and more urgent over the years, that said New Orleans was going to suffer hurricane damage. It was foreseeable. So I did not make a purchase.

I spent time with several people there, including street people, and told them why I was not going to purchase there, "because a hurricane was bound to hit the place according to escalating scientific warnings".

Well before Katrina a conservative Mississippi congressman, Mike Parker, was appointed by the Bush II regime to be the civil head of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Mr. Parker, unlike "you are doin' a heckuva job Brownie", eventually got the message from the warnings several concerned scientists were repeating.

Parker also eventually became vocal in opposing the Bush II regime's plans to severely decrease the Corps budget money used to repair and maintain the New Orleans Levee System:
Year after year, the Bush administration insisted on massive tax cuts for the wealthy. And year after year, the White House refused to provide the funding government experts said was needed to strengthen levees, beef up hurricane preparedness and get federal emergency response ready for an onslaught from Mother Nature.
...

Parker was rewarded for his [earlier] Republican service by President Bush, who appointed him to head the Army Corps of Engineers on June 7, 2001. That was the very same day Bush signed his massive $1.3 trillion income tax cut into law — a tax cut that severely depleted the government of revenues it needed to address critical priorities. As Parker soon learned, one of the priorities that would be sacrificed was flood and hurricane protection.

Overall, Bush’s first budget introduced in February 2001 proposed more than half a billion dollars worth of cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers for the 2002 fiscal year. To be sure, these budget cuts were one in a number of cuts to public priorities like health care, human services, infrastructure and job training.

...

The cuts were so deep, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) broke ranks with her party and penned a nationally-syndicated op-ed in April 2001 saying that “lives very likely will be lost.”

Consider just a few of the specific examples: In the same budget that provided more than a trillion dollars in tax cuts, Bush proposed providing only half of what his own administration officials said was necessary to sustain the critical Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project (SELA)—a project started after a 1995 rainstorm flooded 25,000 homes and caused a half billion dollars in damage. This 2001 budget proposal came in the same year that, according to the Houston Chronicle, federal officials publicly ranked the potential damage to New Orleans by a major hurricane “among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country.”

...

When Parker headed to Capitol Hill for annual budget hearings in February 2002, he couldn’t hide the truth. Under questioning, he admitted that “there will be a negative impact” if the President’s budget cuts were allowed to go forward. The White House fired Parker within a matter of days.
(In These Times, Sept. 2005). Later Katrina hit, horrifying the nation, so Bush II flew over in Air Farce One, then later dropped by to say "Brownie you're doin' a heckuva job".

Lets face it, "gross negligence" is an understatement.

The republican Bush II regime got away with sending trillions of dollars to foreign nations, while leaving the American citizens in New Orleans to suffer unto this very day.

The bushies got away with it because the Obama Administration is cowardly when it comes to applying accountability to elite republicans or elite democrats.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

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