"The Fumbling Hand of Man"

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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.

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  1. Here’s an idea: maybe the levees didn’t work because the city was 20-fucking-feet below sea level!

    By the way, how much taxpayer money went to this independant report, which once again found no one to blame and told us the same things we heard a few weeks after Katrina (minus the false reports of terrordome rape, etc.)?

  2. Ways to enrage your late-boomer parents:

    1) Insist that the only reason JFK remains famous is Lee Harvey Oswald.

    2) Refer to Ted as a “murderer” and/or “The Brother Who Wasn’t Talented Enough To Bother Shooting”.

  3. Timothy

    There’s plenty of boomers that wouldn’t find anything amiss with either of those statements.

    I’m certainly one.

  4. Timothy, I like that:

    Teddy, the Kennedy who isn’t even worth the price of a bullet.

    (Wrong thread, I know).

  5. (Wrong thread, I know).

    It’s appropriate to poke fun at Kennedys on any thread any time. 🙂

  6. The Corps will never take the hit they deserve over this. The Congress loves the Corps and its out of control pork projects. Congress is way too addicted to getting their good old boy buddies fat contracts from the Corps to ever hold the Corps accountable for anything. The press meanwhile finally figured out that if they all said the same thing loud enough and long enough in a coordinated enough way they could do real damage to Bush. The Corps screwing up for the last 60 years doesn’t fit with the Bush lied people died, Bush hates black people and left them to die in New Orleans memes so the press will never hold the Corps accountable.

    In the end, a bunch of corrupt and incompetent bureaucrats built faulty levies and caused the city to flood but none of them were ever be held accountable for it.

  7. The Corps will never take the hit they deserve over this. The Congress loves the Corps and its out of control pork projects. Congress is way too addicted to getting their good old boy buddies fat contracts from the Corps to ever hold the Corps accountable for anything. The press meanwhile finally figured out that if they all said the same thing loud enough and long enough in a coordinated enough way they could do real damage to Bush. The Corps screwing up for the last 60 years doesn’t fit with the Bush lied people died, Bush hates black people and left them to die in New Orleans memes so the press will never hold the Corps accountable.

    In the end, a bunch of corrupt and incompetent bureaucrats built faulty levies and caused the city to flood but none of them were ever be held accountable for it.

  8. Well, since the thread is already jacked, the best description of the Hyannis “clan” came from Tom Carson (I’m writing from memory):

    The saga of the Kennedys has always reminded me of the saga of the Corleones, except in this case the brother who comes out on top is Fredo.

  9. It ain’t the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb! I’m smart and I want respect!

  10. So Tim I guess its like the Godfather only Michael (Robert) gets it in the car bombing rather than his hot Italian wife leaving Fredo (Ted) to take on Moe Green, Barzinni and Tatalia after the old man dies?

  11. I totally jacked this thread accidentally, man, work must be interfering with my browsing skills.

  12. Why can’t all our lawyers be put to good use? (I mean to sue the Corps of Engineers people! – shame on those who wanted to use their bodies as levee material)

    Lawsuits suck of course – but why can’t the government be held accountable as big eeeeevil corporations are?

  13. Whose idea was to build a whole city below sea level, in the first place?

    That’s the one true culprit…

  14. Adriana: The French

  15. Actually, the French built in the areas that are above sea level. The flooded areas were built under the Americans.

    But that’s not a very good answer to the question.

    An accurate answer is, a large number of individual private property owners.

  16. Sheesh, people, this “No wonder it flooded! It’s below sea level!” blather is tiresome and ignorant.
    Parts of the Mojave Desert are 300 feet below sea level, and they’re in no danger of flooding.
    The real problem is that most of New Orleans is between a major river and a lake.
    The “No wonder it flooded! The French founded it!” blather is tiresome and not funny anymore.
    If anybody thinks it’s possible to build a major seaport that’s nowhere near any body of water, I’d love to hear how.

  17. If anybody thinks it’s possible to build a major seaport that’s nowhere near any body of water, I’d love to hear how.

    It’s not the Seaport that anyone really objects to: it’s the fact that several hundred thousand people completely unnecessary to the running of said port settled next to it below sea-level and between a river and a lake and not far from the Gulf of Mexico. Even that wouldn’t be such a huge issue if their assets were covered with private insurance. But since insurance companies hire geographers and the like, only the Feds (read your tax dollars and mine) can offer enough protection.


  18. The press meanwhile finally figured out that if they all said the same thing loud enough and long enough in a coordinated enough way they could do real damage to Bush.

    That they did, never mind that the levees in question were approved and built long before Bush took office.

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