I see the Saints are back, the basketball team is back, the white-top tablecloths are back and Mardi Gras is back. But 250,000 people are not.
Jackson should lead a march on Foggy Bottom. Documents uncovered by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington show the State Department turned its back on Katrina survivors.
The Washington Post reports that only a fraction of nearly $1 billion in foreign aid for Katrina victims was accepted:
As the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina were receding, presidential confidante Karen Hughes sent a cable from her State Department office to U.S. ambassadors worldwide.
Titled “Echo-Chamber Message” -- a public relations term for talking points designed to be repeated again and again -- the Sept. 7, 2005, directive was unmistakable: Assure the scores of countries that had pledged or donated aid at the height of the disaster that their largesse had provided Americans “practical help and moral support” and “highlight the concrete benefits hurricane victims are receiving.”
Many of the U.S. diplomats who received the message, however, were beginning to witness a more embarrassing reality. They knew the U.S. government was turning down many allies’ offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars. Eventually the United States also would fail to collect most of the unprecedented outpouring of international cash assistance for Katrina’s victims.
Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, like her patron George Bush, “doesn’t care about black people.” So it's not surprising Rice's State Department feigned concern and spurned offers of assistance.
It bears remembering Rice had to be shamed back to DC after she was caught shopping for expensive shoes on Fifth Avenue while Katrina survivors were left stranded on rooftops.
To read the CREW documents, click here.