An Unsubtle Distinction

I’ve seen a whole lot of reporting regarding the “smoking gun” video tape of a meeting between President Bush and various officials regarding Hurricane Katrina a full day before it made landfall along the Gulf Coast. Reportedly Bush was flatly told that the levees could fail, and then we get the new “Bush Lied” drumbeat, accompanied with a direct quote of Bush days after the flooding in New Orleans, saying, “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Cue Democrat uproar, including Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid screeching that the Bush administration “systematically misled the American people.”

Here’s one of the stories, just by way of example: Yahoo! News: Democrats Want Independent Katrina Probe. A quick search will find many similar reports all over the press.

The thing that I noticed, that these days will always make me suspicious, is that none of them seem to actually quote what Bush was told in the meeting.

Well, I finally found the quote. In the video, the director of the National Hurricane Center tells Bush,
“I don’t think anyone can tell you with confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very great concern.”

Let’s recap. Bush is told it’s a real concern that “the levees will be topped”. Bush later says that he didn’t anticipate “the breach of the levees”.

Here’s the real news flash: these are different words. Different meanings. If the levees were topped by a storm surge, that would have caused quite a bit of flooding and damage in the sub-sea-level New Orleans, but it would not have been anywhere close to the destruction caused when the levees were breached.

Update: More here.

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