Transcript from Media Gab of news conference on Hurricane Rita, emphasis added by me:
Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as he said, he said, we said. All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?In other words, Gen. Honore got the Bush memo: Journalists serve no function other than to distribute its information. Non-cleared information that could be pertinent to life or death for American citizens is "not [our] business."
Female reporter: Where do they move on...
Honore: That's not your business.
Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...
Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged.
Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...
Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.
Hey, General Honore? You work for us. So fuck you, and answer the goddamned questions.
Oh, and on the same day, this obscenity from CNN's Kyra Phillips:
PHILLIPS: General Russel Honore, always a pleasure, sir. You're my hero. I'm curious, are you going to -- are you still with me?Thanks for asking the hard questions that America needs answered, Kyra. And Gen. Honore, thanks for making time to answer her questions.
HONORE: Yes, ma'am.
PHILLIPS: All right. Final question. Are you going to sing with Wayne Newton? Because I know you can hum a mean tune.
HONORE: No ma'am, I can't sing, but I will see him sometime today.
PHILLIPS: I'm just trying -- there we go, I got a smile. General, great to see you, sir.
PHILLIPS: All right. General Russel Honore. Quite a man.
And if you think I was being facetious about Honore getting the memo, there's clearly been a directive that no one in the Bush administration is to admit that anything is being done differently post-Katrina. Look at Scott McClellan's refusal to specify a single thing done differently, even while he claims that lessons have been learned and things have improved. Emphasis, again, is mine:
Q Are you confident that the lessons learned from Katrina will be applied in the case of this hurricane?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I might want to point out, too, before I come to that question, too, that the disaster medical teams are in the region. You have nine -- at least nine search and rescue teams that are in the region so that they can deploy quickly once the storm has passed.
Q So the lessons learned from Katrina will be applied in the case of Rita?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of Katrina, that was a storm that was unprecedented in size and scope and devastation. It is something that we want to make sure all the lessons possible are learned, and we want to make sure that we know exactly what worked and what didn't work. And that's why we are working closely with Congress as they move forward on their investigation. That's why the President has tasked his Homeland Security Council to make sure that there is a comprehensive review of the preparedness and response relating to Katrina, so we're doing that. Now, in terms of Rita, I just talked about the steps that we're taking. And we're going to make sure that we are doing everything we can to have the strongest possible coordination with state and local governments as we prepared and respond to Hurricane Rita.
Q Well, Scott, continuing with what Steve said, how is what you're doing for Rita different from what you did from Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. A couple of things -- one, the President is focused on making sure we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local governments in the path of Hurricane Rita. We hope Rita is not devastating, but we must be prepared for the worst. Coordination at all levels needs to be seamless, or as seamless as possible, and that's what we're working to do. Homeland Security and FEMA officials are working closely with state and local governments so that resources can be targeted where they are most needed. They are redoubling efforts to make sure we have a full understanding of what the needs are so that we can make sure that those needs are met. And I went through several steps that were already taken to address these issues.
Q So that's -- you think that that's going to be an improvement over what was done in Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, in terms of Katrina, we're still focused on the immediate needs of the people in the region and working to make sure that they are getting back up on their feet, that we're moving forward on the recovery, that we're moving forward on the rebuilding to help people rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities. We are determined to learn the lessons of Katrina, and that's why we have been assessing what's been working and what hasn't been working and taking steps to address those issues. That's why we're also working closely with Congress, and the President is committed to making sure that there's a thorough investigation so that we can learn those lessons.
Q Well, can you distinguish what you're doing differently?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I just talked to you about where the President's focus is and what we are doing. We want to make sure that we're --
Q And these are things you didn't do in Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: We want to make sure that we are better prepared and better positioned to respond to Hurricane Rita and that's what we're doing. That's why I outlined the several steps that we are taking. And that's why I just told you that the President is focused on making sure that we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local officials, and that we have --
Q Which you didn't have before, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- as seamless as possible coordination with state and local officials.
Q In other words, better than the last time?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just answered that question, Bill.
Q No, not really.
Well, on the other hand, maybe McClellan meant it when he said: "the President is focused on making sure we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local governments in the path of Hurricane Rita...Coordination at all levels needs to be seamless, or as seamless as possible, and that's what we're working to do. Homeland Security and FEMA officials are working closely with state and local governments so that resources can be targeted where they are most needed. They are redoubling efforts to make sure we have a full understanding of what the needs are so that we can make sure that those needs are met." If it's true, that definitely would be different from Katrina.
In either case, though, less than a month after a massive hurricane wiped a major American city off the map, both the American military and the American civilian leadership refuse to tell the American people a single change in procedure, even on the eve of another potentially devastating natural disaster.