Given that the Republican spin on where to lay the blame for the Katrina clusterfuck is already starting, it behooves us to start cataloging said spin so we know how to respond to it, and a particularly evil example of that spin can be found here:
MR. RUSSERT: There's a CD which is in your department and the White House has it and the president, and you are saying, "We were surprised that the levees may not hold." How could this be?
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: No, Tim, I have to tell you, that's not what I said. You have to listen to what I said. What I said was not that we didn't anticipate that there's a possibility the levees will break. What I said is in this storm, what happened is the storm passed and passed without the levees breaking on Monday. Tuesday morning, I opened newspapers and saw headlines that said "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet," which surprised people. What surprised them was that the levee broke overnight and the next day and, in fact, collapsed. That was a surprise.
Now, let's be clear about what Chertoff is saying here. He's not saying that no one anticipated that the levees would fail. The GOP spinmeisters already tried that lame excuse and got justifiably shredded for it.
What Chertoff is clearly saying here is that no one anticipated that the storm could have hit and passed, and that the levees would have initially held but failed the next day. How depressingly pathetic is that?
First, how is it possible that no one at FEMA or DHS would have considered this possiblity? Is Chertoff saying that absolutely nobody would have had the foresight to think that, even if the levees held during the storm itself, they might have been fatally weakened to the point where they were bound to collapse eventually? It's hard to believe that no one brought that up as a possibility. But that's not even the best part.
What Chertoff seems to be saying is that, from his perspective, FEMA would have had a better handle on the situation if the levees had broken during the storm. That's right -- go back and read Chertoff. He's clearly suggesting that, if things had gone according to predictions and the levees had failed at the height of the storm, well, they would have been all over that scenario.
But, no. Apparently, the fact that the storm had passed and the weather had cleared before the levees went down was a bad thing. Having calm weather rather than howling Category 4 winds and rain somehow made FEMA's job more difficult, that's the official story and they're sticking to it.
Coming soon: "The dog ate my contingency plan."