"The Fumbling Hand of Man"


Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson writes up the report of the Independent Levee Investigation Team and discovers—surprise!—man-made mistakes were responsible for New Orleans' devastation last year.

Some of the flood barriers were built using inadequate materials, the report says. Others were designed so poorly that they provided weak spots for the waters to exploit. Still others were left unfinished for lack of funds.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for building the levees that failed, has not yet issued its own final report on the flood and likely will dispute some of the independent team's conclusions. But Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff remarked last week that "had it not been for what appear to be structural problems in the building of the levees, Katrina would have been a bad hurricane" but not an unparalleled catastrophe.

The report is here (in PDF form). Reason's ahead-of-the-curve symposium on how bad public policy sealed New Orleans' fate is here.