The Unconstitutional FEMA

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It’s
a good thing President George Bush doesn’t read newspapers or watch
TV. If he did, even he could see that people from one end of this
nation to the other are rapidly reaching zero tolerance with his
bumbling ineptitude each time he is faced with a crisis. Those who
watched in amazement as Bush sat paralyzed in a Florida elementary
school on the morning of September 11, 2001 as planes were ramming
into the World Trade Center and Pentagon – who watched in dismay
as he zigzagged across the country from one hidey hole to another
throughout the day – were not surprised that he dropped the
ball when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast on August 29.

Bush
has dropped every ball thrown to him throughout his life. But he’s
a hell of a cheerleader. It’s almost like being back in college.
In an instant, Bush can whip a crowd into a frenzy, armed with nothing
but a bullhorn and a shell-shocked firefighter. He can divert the
attention of an entire nation from what is happening on the field
by locking it into one massive, cheering “wave.” Life is a game.
Go Team.

However,
Operation Hurricane Katrina is vastly different from Bush’s “freedom
is on the march” game that continues to wreak chaos, death and destruction
throughout the Arab world. In the aftermath of Katrina, the homeless,
bewildered, abandoned and starving citizens may be poverty-stricken,
they may be dark-skinned, but they are Americans. And, because they
are Americans, the cheering has stopped. The media, led by the shaking
outrage of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and right-leaning curmudgeon Jack
Cafferty, followed by the networks and, finally, by the wondrous
on-air meltdown of Fox News’ Shepard Smith, at long last is doing
its job. For a time, however fleeting, the media has been shocked
into telling the truth, asking the right questions and holding the
administration’s feet to the fire.

Thanks
to the media, Bush is out there without a bullhorn – and without
a game plan.

The
best-laid plans

Of
course the neoconservatives
who are in control of this country had a plan for Iraq. I’ve written
about it so often I’m almost embarrassed to bring it up again. In
1992, Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby and Paul Wolfowitz laid out their
obsession for world dominance in a secret document, Defense
Planning Guidance
wherein they boldly asserted, “our overall
objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region
(Middle East and SW Asia) and preserve U.S. and Western access to
the region’s oil.”

Although
such arrogance caused a furor when released to the media, the war
jackals merely retreated into their lair and continued to hone the
policy of preemptive war to seize control of the world’s resources.
That was the plan then, it was the plan in 1997 when they established
the warmongering think-tank, Project
for a New American Century,
it was the plan outlined in
the September 2000 Rebuilding
America’s Defenses,
which included another bold assertion
– to achieve their goal they would need “a catastrophic and
catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor” – and it remains
the plan today.

It
was a stroke of genius in 2000 to rig the election and put George
Bush in the Cheerleader in Chief role. Bush is mean-spirited, vindictive,
greedy, incapable of feeling empathy, easily manipulated, desperate
for attention – even adulation – and has no qualms with
playing the God card for political gain. Americans are a forgiving
people, and most accepted without question this worthless, former
booze-and-drug sodden ne’er-do-well’s claim that he was born again
– a man of God. They loved him. All Cheney had to do was select
himself as Number Two, slip behind the curtain, and the cabal –
as they like to call themselves – was open for business, and
waiting for a new Pearl Harbor.

It
was not long in coming. If 9-11 taught us nothing else, we must
ultimately concede that George Bush entered office on his way to
war with Iraq, and had no qualms about lying
repeatedly to the American people
and to our allies to get
there. Piles of dead bodies, including nearly 2,100 coalition soldiers
and marines and tens of thousands of Iraqis, the majority of whom
are women and children, are but a minor irritant to Bush. That part
of humanity not belonging to the corporate world is invisible to
Bush, nothing more than collateral damage, and is not factored into
his “war plan.”

Long
before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, just as before 9-11,
administration officials were warned of impending peril. Although
they played out the frightening scenario in rehearsal after rehearsal,
when it was “show time” they were nowhere to be found. They knew.
And they did nothing. Either by incompetence or design, they failed
to act, and the death, crippling despair, disease and sheer hopelessness
suffered by Americans in our most romantic city is breathtaking
in scope and indefensible on any level.

Bush
has repeatedly slashed funds for the Army Corps of Engineers water
projects for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In 2003, the money
that had previously flowed into the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood
Control Project (SELA), tasked with shoring up levees and building
pumping stations, dried up to a mere trickle. With warnings ringing
in his ears, in 2004 Bush refused the money requested to raise the
levees and rejected a plea for a $15-million project to shore up
the banks of Lake Pontchartrain. And, in June, Bush’s 2006 federal
budget called for slashing SELA funds from an already inadequate
$36.5-million to a mere $10.4-million, and for cutting the overall
New Orleans Corps of Engineers budget a record $71.2-million, which
Corps officials say is the largest single-year funding loss ever.

But
all is not lost. The Corps of Engineers managed to get a hefty $100-million
for just one water project – in the Kurdish area of northern
Iraq. According to the peerless Ward Harkavy, who writes The
Morning Report
for the Village Voice, “On August
15, just two weeks before Katrina slammed into the U.S., the Pentagon
boasted of spending $6.4-billion – so far – on 2,705 Corps
of Engineers construction projects in Iraq, all but 200 of them
started since June 2004.”

The
SNAFU plan

It
looks to me like everything is going according to plan. Chaos, like
everything else, is just a matter of perspective. Few people really
know anything about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
except it’s a name that’s thrown around a lot during times of national
disaster. Do not think for one minute that Bush “gutted” FEMA by
placing it under the control of Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff.
By any other name, FEMA remains this nation’s “secret government,”
with powers to suspend laws, move entire populations, arrest and
detain citizens without a warrant, hold citizens without a trial,
seize control of all transportation and communication systems and
– suspend the US Constitution.

FEMA
was created outside of Constitutional law via a President John Kennedy
Executive
Order,
and is subject to no Congressional oversight. It
received a “tune
up”
under President Jimmy Carter then, like Topsy, “just
growed” through presidents Nixon, Reagan, Poppy and Bubba to the
present time. Genocide fascists like Henry Kissinger, and greedy
patriots like former General Richard Secord and Lt. Col. Oliver
North, the architects of both the Iran-Contra scandal and today’s
FEMA, must be laughing their asses off at the juvenile disinformation
bait-and-switch scenario playing itself out in the US media.

We
would do well to remember that these jackals are on a mission. No
matter how many times they are exposed as liars and deceivers, they
continue across the field of life like a hoard of grasshoppers,
leaving stripped and broken humanity in their wake. They are roiling
the waters of the Mississippi by portraying FEMA as dim-witted,
absent-minded, rudderless.

And
it’s working. The media, Internet, Congress, you, me – everybody
– all baying for Bush to dump the hapless FEMA director, Michael
Brown, a Bush crony and former counsel for the International Arabian
Horse Association. We are all outraged, not at Bush for dropping
the ball; for being so chillingly disconnected from those he is
charged to protect – but at Brown, who is a perfect lightning
rod and, if need be, a fall guy.

He’s
also a man with a plan.

Take
a look at these headlines – FEMA refusing all offered
rescue assistance from Amtrack to experienced firefighters, FEMA
not delivering on promises, FEMA barring delivery of desperately
needed food or water to frightened and bewildered victims of Katrina,
FEMA telling First Responders not to “respond” to the disaster.
Does anybody but me see a pattern here? Is it possible for an emergency
aid organization to show up at the scene only to refuse all offers
of aid? Does McDonald’s cook up a bunch of hamburgers and then lock
its doors to its hungry patrons?

FEMA
is the Patriot Act on crack. Once its powers are unleashed, Oliver
North’s REX 84
“exercise”
will become a reality. The Constitution will
be suspended and FEMA will have the right to detain or seize the
property of anyone even suspected of engaging in, or who might be
thinking of conspiring with others to engage in acts of espionage
or sabotage. REX 84 also advocated rounding up and transferring
to “assembly centers or relocation camps” of at least 21 million
American Negroes in the event of massive rioting or disorder,
not unlike the rounding up of the Jews in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

The
actual number of displaced New Orleans residents is unknown. Overnight,
they became “refugees,” and hundreds of thousands packed into the
Super Dome or sat sweltering in the sun on roads and bridges during
a nightmarish week of waiting for help that did not come, while
political fat cats finger-pointed and accused each other of playing
the “blame” game. Finally, their military liberators herded them
onto buses and planes, refusing to reveal their destination –
husbands and wives separated, families split apart – and disappeared
to “assembly centers or location camps” throughout the United States.

Bush,
who once asked Sojourners’ Reverend Jim Wallis how to talk
to poor people because he had never been around one, has once again
dropped the ball. Telling Americans whose homes, jobs, loved ones,
whose whole lives were washed away in a single night to “hang in
there, and don’t buy gasoline if you can’t afford it,” before cutting
out to a birthday party in Arizona falls a bit short of his presidential
promise to “protect the American people.”

It’s
unfortunate that it took a tragedy like Katrina for middle- and
lower-class America to finally come to grips with where they will
fit into the capitalist White supremacist New World Disorder. Americans
now know that Bush is incapable of leading. They know he’s too arrogant
and stubborn to follow. They know it’s time for him to get out of
the way – before more of us are trampled, displaced, abandoned,
and destroyed, not only here but throughout the world.

September
10, 2005

Sheila
Samples [send her mail]
is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public
Information Officer.

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