Video: Video shows warnings before Katrina

msnbc.com
updated 3/1/2006 8:09:33 PM ET 2006-03-02T01:09:33

Administration officials denied there was anything new in a just-released Associated Press video showing President Bush and other officials being warned of the impending destructive force of Hurricane Katrina.

But the video gave New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin a “sinking feeling” and confirmed for him that “everybody was fully aware” of the magnitude of the storm, which ultimately cost more than 1,300 lives and at least $125 billion in economic damage.

Downplaying the importance of the video — which shows Bush huddling by videoconference with officials on Aug. 28 at his Crawford, Texas, ranch — Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said that the transcripts of Aug. 28 and 29 were part of more than 300,000 documents previously handed over to congressional investigators.

Knocke said the video adds nothing to the equation. “There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes,” he said. “We actively participated in the lessons-learned review, and we continue to participate in the Senate's review and are working with them on their recommendation.”

Knocke said his department would not release the full set of videotaped briefings, saying most transcripts from the sessions were given to investigators months ago.

War of words
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security have continued a war of words with Michael Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a combative relationship that began even before Brown was relieved of his hurricane-recovery duties Sept. 9, three days before he resigned the post.

Homeland Security officials have said the “fog of war” blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster, which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Brown responded Wednesday to the characterization. “I don’t buy the ‘fog of war’ defense,” he told the Associated Press in an interview. “It was a fog of bureaucracy.”

A Homeland Security spokesman responded to the response. “It is hard to see how Mike can make that argument with a straight face when he testified under oath that he willfully kept the secretary [Chertoff] and the department out of the loop.”

Brown testified before Congress that he purposely went around Homeland Security and its director, Michael Chertoff, and called the White House directly in the days after Katrina because he felt he was being constrained by Chertoff.

Nagin: ‘Everybody was fully aware’
Nagin, a critic of the administration's Katrina response, had a more emotional take after watching the footage Wednesday afternoon.

“I have kind of a sinking feeling in my gut right now,” Nagin said. “I was listening to what people were saying — they didn't know, so therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware.”

NBC News’ Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC’s Mike Kosnar and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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