Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Greens Warn of Growing 'Iraqification' of New Orleans

Got this in my mail just a few minutes ago. Thought it would be worth posting...

WASHINGTON - Green Party leaders urged Congress and all Americans to reject the White House's intention to turn New Orleans and all disaster areas into zones of military control, weakened human rights protections and oversight of federal agencies, and corporate profiteering similar to occupied Iraq.

"The treatment of New Orleans' poorest, especially African Americans, has already been widely reported and is now a national shame, as is the ineptitude of Mayor Nagin's office, FEMA, and other government bodies whose poor preparation and delayed response helped turn the city into a ruin," said Romi Elnagar, Acting Secretary of the Green Part of Louisiana. "But we've also witnessed a new pattern, of policies and actions that have turned New Orleans into a war zone all too similar to occupied Iraq."

On September 26, The Washington Post reported President Bush's plan to place the Pentagon in charge of disaster response, making such policies permanent and eliminating Posse Comitatus restraints against using the military for domestic civilian law enforcement.

Greens noted several indications of the 'Iraqification' of New Orleans:

. Incursion by Blackwater and other private security forces, which already have contracts to provide security in Iraq; such firms are not held to the same standards of accountability as service members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

. The cruel neglect of prisoners in Louisiana, documented by Human Rights Watch and the ACLU , during the hurricane and its aftermath, with inmates locked in cells as floodwaters rose, deaths, and inmates still missing -- recalling official toleration and encouragement of prisoner abuses in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan.

. No-bid rebuilding contracts for companies like Halliburton/KBR, which have already profiteered to the tune of billions off the Iraq invasion and occupation, with similar no-bid contracts; award of federal contracts to favored white-owned firms and disregard by FEMA for requirements that contracts go to some minority businesses. According to The Wall Street Journal on September 23, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson said that "his staff has been unable to locate any federal contracts for Mississippi that went to minority firms".... "During a recent New Orleans City Council hearing... a half-dozen minority business owners said they were being left out of the rebuilding effort, and Council President Oliver Thomas told Mayor Ray Nagin that he was living in 'Neverland' for thinking black businessmen would receive a significant number of government contracts."

. President Bush's appointment of White House advisor Karl Rove -- an administration 'crony' with no known expertise in urban policy or engineering (and who has been implicated in the Valerie Plame scandal) -- to supervise the rebuilding of New Orleans.

. Cuts proposed by Republicans, eliminating as much as $40 billion from Medicare and other social spending to pay for clean-up -- just as they diverted funding from social programs for the military venture in Iraq. "Elderly people who lost their homes and health care providers as a result of the hurricane will bear the brunt of the Medicare cuts," said Leenie Halbert, acting co-chair of the Green Party of Louisiana. "The failure to protect and care for people whose lives have been devastated by the hurricane the repeats to failure to protect and care for soldiers and their families most affected by the war "

. Proposed suspension of environmental protections, with a waiver of EPA rules, in areas hit by Katrina, comparable to the disregard of the environment in war zones.

Posted by crimnos @ 2:36 PM