A hole in the president's Katrina defense

Bush said that no one anticipated that the levees would fail in New Orleans. A new report shows that the White House was warned.

Published January 24, 2006 3:05PM (EST)

On Sept. 1, 2005, as much of New Orleans sat under water, George W. Bush appeared on "Good Morning America" to defend his administration's flat-footed response to Hurricane Katrina. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," he said.

We knew then that it wasn't true -- experts had warned for years that the city's levees would stand no chance against a large storm -- but we didn't know whether that knowledge had been delivered to the White House. Now we do. As the New York Times reports today, the Homeland Security Department warned the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29 -- which is to say hours before Katrina struck New Orleans -- that "any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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