That's it in one word.
Here is the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District hurricane levee maps page. You might note that some of the links there are a bit out of date, but they certainly have better things to do right now than update their Current Photos, Lock Status, and High Water pages. But if you compare the maps there with Google Maps, it becomes quite clear that a co-ordinated terrorist attack (e.g., with a half-dozen or so car bombs or explosive-laden small airplanes) on several of the levees and flood gates was undoubtedly possible.
I am not suggesting that the levee breaches following Hurricane Katrina were the result of an act of terrorism. What I am saying is simply this: the fact that the levees survived the actual hurricane only to breach a day later is not justification for the statements from President Bush, and Homeland Security and FEMA officals that the breach was not anticipated. That's how they're trying to spin it now. "Oh, we didn't mean that we never anticipated a breach. We just didn't anticpate it on the day after the hurricane. We thought we were ok." That's more or less what Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff said yesterday, and that's unmitigated spin. If FEMA and DHS weren't planning for an even worse scenario than a breach in the levees on the day after a hurricane, then they were even more negligent than they appear to be based on what really has happened. The spin is designed to try to distract you from that fact.
Given the population, the economic importance of the energy-related industries of the region, I simply can not believe that DHS didn't have an attack on the levees on a list of the most probable and most highly destructive attacks. Of course a major levee breach was anticpated! And of course it was anticipated that it could happen at the worst of all possible times, like in the middle of the night with no warning at all. Of course there were plans in place to try to deal with it. The fact that it occurred the day after a hurricane undoubtedly excuses some of the poor execution of whatever plans had been considered, but in truth this was a far better circumstance than what DHS and FEMA must have been planning for. Emergency officials were already in action when it happened, and a large portion of the city's residents were already evacuated before the levee breaches so there were far fewer people affected than there would have been in a terrorist attack.
1. 09/05/2005 11:12:31 PM
Heres a series that the NO Times-Picayune did in 2002, while they don't mention terrorism, they point out that the levees are barely adequite for a Cat3 hurricane.