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October 21, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-21

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 21, 2005


FEMA officials
criticize Brown

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Emergency Management Agency offi-
cials did not respond to repeated warn-
ings about deteriorating conditions in
New Orleans and the dire need for help as
Hurricane Katrina struck, the first FEMA
official to arrive conceded yesterday.
Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA regional
director, told a Senate panel investigating
the government's response to the disaster
that he gave regular updates to people
in contact with then-FEMA Director
Michael Brown as early as Aug. 28, one
day before Katrina made landfall.
In most cases, he was met with silence.
In an Aug. 29 phone call to Brown
informing him that the first levee had
broke, Bahamonde said he received a
polite thank you from Brown, who said he
would check with the White House.
"I think there was a systematic
failure at all levels of government to
understand the magnitude of the situ-
ation," Bahamonde said.
The testimony before the Senate Home-
land Security Committee contradicted
Brown, who has said he wasn't fully aware
of the dire conditions until days later and
that local officials were most responsible
for the sluggish response.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who
chairs the panel, decried the testimony
and e-mail released by Bahamonde yester-
day as illustrating "a complete disconnect
between senior officials and the reality of
the situation."
"His urgent reports did not appear to
prompt an urgent response," Collins said.
In e-mails to various FEMA officials,
including one to Brown, Bahamonde
described a chaotic situation at the Super-
dome, where many of the evacuees were
sheltered. Bahamonde e-mailed FEMA
officials and noted also that local officials
were asking for toilet paper, a sign that
supplies were lacking at the shelter.
"Issues developing at the Superdome.
The medical staff at the dome says they
will run out of oxygen in about two hours
and are looking for alternative oxygen,"
Bahamonde wrote in an e-mail to region-
al director David Passey in a call at 4:46
p.m. CDT on Aug. 28.
Less than an hour later, Bahamonde
wrote: "Everyone is soaked. This is going
to get ugly real fast."
Bahamonde said he was stunned that
FEMA officials responded by continu-
ing to send truckloads of evacuees to
the Superdome for two more days even

Charles Eckenrode wheels down 10th Street in Florida's FEMA village yesterday.

though they knew supplies were in
short supply.
"I thought it amazing," he said. "I
believed at the time and still do today, that
I was confirming the worst-case scenario
that everyone had always talked about
regarding New Orleans."
Later, on Aug. 31, Bahamonde fran-

tically e-mailed Brown to tell him that
thousands are evacuees were gather-
ing in the streets with no food or water
and that "estimates are many will die
within hours."
"Sir, I know that you know the sit-
uation is past critical," Bahamonde

Congress favors
firearms industry

Cancun tourists flee tropical storm
Tourists packed Cancun's airport desperately seeking flights out, and guests at luxu-
ry hotels shuttled to emergency shelters, trying to escape Hurricane Wilma as its outer
bands battered the resort's white-sand beaches. Cuba evacuated more than 200,000
people ahead of the Category 4 storm.
Wilma, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, churned toward the Yucatan
peninsula and south Florida after hitting Haiti and Jamaica, where it killed at least
13 people. The storm was expected to strike Cancun and its surrounding resorts and
sideswipe Cuba today.
Forecasters said Wilma would then make a beeline for Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush
declared a state of emergency, and make landfall Sunday.
"At least for the next couple of days here, we think we're going to have a very pow-
erful hurricane here in the Caribbean," said Max Mayfield, director of the National
Hurricane Center in Miami.
Briefly the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, Wilma was a potentially cata-
strophic Category 5 storm before weakening. Its 145 mph winds made it roughly as
powerful as Hurricane Katrina when it plowed into the Gulf coast of the United States
on Aug. 29, killing more than 1,200 people.
Military will investigate U.S. soldiers
The U.S. military and the Afghan government said yesterday they will investigate a
TV report that claimed U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan burned the bodies of two Taliban
fighters and taunted other Islamic militants.
The U.S. military said such abuse would be "repugnant," and the State Department
said U.S. embassies around the world have been told to counter a potential backlash by
telling local governments that the alleged actions do not reflect American values.
A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said the government has launched its
own inquiry.
"We strongly condemn any disrespect to human bodies regardless of whether they
are those of enemies or friends," said Karzai spokesman Karim Rahimi.
Australia's SBS television network broadcast video that purportedly showed U.S.
soldiers burning the bodies of the suspected Taliban fighters in the hills outside the
southern village of Gonbaz, near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
The network said the video was taken by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont,
who told The Associated Press he was embedded with the Army's 173rd Airborne
Brigade earlier this month. Dupont said the burnings happened Oct. 1.
DeLay turns himself in to sheriff's office
Rep. Tom DeLay turned himself in yesterday at the sheriff's office and was fin-
gerprinted, photographed and released on $10,000 bail on conspiracy and money-
laundering charges.
Accompanied by his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, the former House majority leader
showed up about midday yesterday, appeared before a judge and was gone in less
than 30 minutes, sheriff's Lt. John Martin said.
"Now Ronnie Earle has the mugshot he wanted," DeGuerin said, referring to
the Travis County district attorney who brought the charges. DeLay and his lawyer
have accused the district attorney of trying to make headlines for himself.
The Texas Republican is scheduled to make his first court appearance today in
Austin. The charges forced DeLay to give up his House leadership post.
Hussein co-defendant's lawyer kidnapped
Ten masked gunmen kidnapped the lawyer for one of Saddam Hussein's
co-defendants yesterday, Iraqi police said.
Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi, who was in the courtroom for Wednes-
day's opening session of the trial, is one of two lawyers for Awad Hamed
al-Bandar, one of seven Baath Party officials being tried with Saddam.
The gunmen pulled up outside al-Janabi's office in Baghdad's eastern
Shaab district yesterday evening, broke into the building and dragged him
out, said Police Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi of the Interior Ministry.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress
gave the gun lobby its top legislative
priority yesterday, passing a bill protect-
ing the firearms industry from massive
crime-victim lawsuits. President Bush
said he will sign it.
"Our laws should punish criminals
who use guns to commit crimes, not
law-abiding manufacturers of lawful
products," Bush said in a statement.
The House voted 283-144 to send the
bill to the president after supporters, led
by the National Rifle Association, pro-
claimed it vital to protect the industry
from being bankrupted by huge jury
awards. Opponents, waging a tough
battle against growing public support for
the legislation, called it proof of the gun
lobby's power over the Republican-con-
trolled Congress.
"This legislation will make the unreg-
ulated gun industry the most pampered
industry in America," said Kristen Rand,
director of the Violence Policy Center.
Under the measure, a half-dozen
pending lawsuits by local govern-
ments against the industry would be
dismissed. Anti-gun groups say some
lawsuits filed by individuals could be
thrown out, too.
The Senate passed the bill in July.

The bill's passage was the NRA's top
legislative priority and would give Bush
and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill
a rare victory at a time when some top
GOP leaders are under indictment or
"Lawsuits seeking to hold the fire-
arms industry responsible for the
criminal and unlawful use of its prod-
ucts are brazen attempts to accom-
plish through litigation what has not
been achieved by legislation and the
democratic process," House Judiciary
Committee Chairman James Sensen-
brenner (R-Wis.) told his colleagues.
Former House Majority Leader Tom
DeLay (R-Texas) did not vote. He is in
Texas in connection with his indictment
in an alleged scheme to violate state
election law.
Propelled by GOP election gains and
the incidents of lawlessness associated
with the passing of Hurricane Katrina,
support for the bill has grown since a
similar measure passed the House last
year and was killed in the Senate.
Horrific images of people without
the protection of public safety in New
Orleans made a particular impression
on viewers who had never before felt
unsafe, according to the gun lobby.


OCT. 26-



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