Yesterday, the CREW Organization (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) released a comprehensive report detailing the assistance offers made by foreign governments to the USA after Hurricane Katrina.
CREW recieved 25,0000 documents detailing the governments acceptance and handling of these offers after a CREW lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act in December 2005.
The documents reveal a very disturbing pattern of arbitrary rejections and mishandling of aid from 145 foreign governments and 12 International Organizations.
For example, here is an email from Jeffrey Goldstein, a US Embassy official in Estonia:
"It is getting downright embarrassing here not to have a response to the Estonians on flood relief. And now I see from the staff meeting notes that the task force may disband soon. We know that what the Estonians can offer is small potatoes and everyone at FEMA is swamped, but at this point even “thanks but no thanks” is better than deafening silence."
Another email responding to an offer from Argentina to DOS officials reads “All, The (sic) word here is that doctors of any kind are in the 'forget about it' category. Human assistance of any kind is not on our priorities list....It’s all about goods, not people, at this point.”
Another email describes how the transport of Israeli relief supplies loaded on a C-130 aircraft was delayed for over 48 hours on the tarmac while Israeli officials waited for clearance from the U.S. government. The unidentified author states: “I’ve been on the phone with the [Israeli] attache every couple of hours since noon . . . they’re patient, but not amused by our delay, obviously.” The documents do not reveal if or how the issue was resolved.All foreign medical personell help was turned down due to arbitrary adherence to bureaucratic regulations about licensing in the USA.
A ban on British Beef because of mad cow disease fears kept thousands of British Army field meals stored in warehouuses at a cost of $16,000 a month.
All offers of post Katrina clean up aid from foreign governments were turned down systematically. The clean up was and is still being ineptly done by no bid contracts awarded to firms with administration ties making astronomical fees..
It has been 2 years since Katrina and the nightmare is with most of the victims anew every day as they try to wade through the inept corruptness of the American Governments and the evasive insurance companies response.
The Bush Goverment has shown itself incapable of and not caring about the plight and future of the poor Katrina victims. If they wait for goverment assistance, the ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans will never be rebuilt.
Next month, something unique will happen, members of the Southeast Asian Coalition for Housing are coming to New Orleans with a group of Indonesian Tsunami survivors from Bandeh Aceh. They are going to hold meetings and work shops with groups of New Orleans survivors to show them how to do it themselves!
They are going to learn to rebuld their lives inspite of having a goverment which couldn't care less if they lived or died.