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Campaign to Blame Louisiana Continues as O'Reilly Plays Race Card Once Again

Reported by Marie Therese - September 24, 2005

Last night, Bill O'Reilly interviewed retired Gen. Wesley Clark on the topic of hurricane readiness. General Clark offered a slightly new take on what transpired in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Although the General made an interesting statement about the Louisiana Army National Guard, he, nevertheless, partially participated in the FOX campaign to lay all blame for the horror in New Orleans at the feet of the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana.

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW BETWEEN BILL O'REILLY AND GEN. WESLEY CLARK

CLARK: ... the Guard should be there as a back up. Now, what happened in Louisiana was that the real headquarters for the Guard is the maneuver brigade, the 256th Brigade of the Louisiana Army National Guard. They were actually in Iraq. And what happens is it's not just the numbers of guard or the numbers of federal troops, it's actually what the capabilities are that you want. So what you want your Guard and your other - your active - troops to to is you want them to bring communications, provide medical, provide logistics, supplies, trucks that can go through mud and stuff like that, water, emergency construction, getting people out of the elements. The last resort that you hope you'd never have to do is put them in there to quell civil disorder. That's the hardest mission. It's a mission that they should never be called on first, but last. it's really the civil authorities up front.

O'REILLY: Alright. Here's what I'm not understanding, because I was in the middle of the L.A. riots in the early 90s when Rodney King, you know - you remember.

CLARK: I remember.

O'REILLY: The Governor of California called the Guard out right away to assist the LAPD because there was violence, rampant anarchy down in east Los Angeles and they came in and they stopped it. Now, in New Orleans, the Mayor there and the Governor had to know that there were more than 100,000 people not leaving the city. They knew that because they designated refugees of last resort at the Superdome and the Convention Center. Yet, they did not put security people in those refuges, OK. Not "refugees," but "refuges."

CLARK: Well, I think they had a battalion of the Army National Guard in the Superdome.

O'REILLY: But they were overwhelmed.

CLARK: Well, they were ...they were ...

O'REILLY: They were only- from what we understand there were were 200 and they were lookin' at 25,000 people and they were overwhelmed quickly, so I'm sayin' to myself ...

CLARK: They were cut off, Bill. What happened was the water came up. They couldn't get relief. They couldn't get replacements., They couldn't get their own supplies.

O'REILLY: Right. Right.

CLARK: And that's when people went to the Convention Center and ..

O'REILLY: Why wouldn't you as the ....

CLARK: ... because of the water, they didn't have people there.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 5 words): But why wouldn't you as Governor -and I would do this if I were Governor of any state - anticipate where the chaos would hit and then deploy before so that if - you know. Ya' gotta know there's gonna be flooding. There's gotta be communications breakdown. Ya' gotta know that's gonna happen in any kind of a big storm like this...

CLARK: Always happens.

O'REILLY: Yeah. Ya' gotta put 'em in before first and then they're there to prevent. See, all of the things that have happened in Katrina -and we hope it doesn't happen in Rita - we don't - we think - we don't think it will - have been reactive rather than proactive, General.

CLARK: Well, they weren't all reactive, Bill, but what happened is that the quality of the troops that were there - you know the headquarters that planned it and rehearsed it wasn't available.

O'REILLY: No I understand.

CLARK: It was in Iraq. And so when you bring people in, they don't have the maps, they haven't thought it through, they haven't participated in the drills and exercises. That's why I'm such a believer in really treating - treating these kinds of things as national security problems that require local, state and federal cooperation and support with proper, prior planning. And you've got to have exercises. And you've gotta assume things like levees breaking and communications failing. You've gotta get ready.

O'REILLY: That's right.

CLARK: You've gotta get stuff positioned and practice it.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 6 words): You and I are agreeing. None of that stuff happened. And in Rita we don't know where the 10,000 troops are. We don't know where the 5,000 Guard troops are. Now 15,000 military people in the Rita zone - that should be enough to handle anything that happens. We just hope they're where they should be and it's not gonna take them two days to get there because of flooding and things like that.

COMMENT

I find it interesting that O'Reilly evoked images of the 1990 Los Angeles riots, implying that the looting situation in New Orleans after Katrina was a similar situation, which of course it wasn't. The only nexus between these two events is the racial makeup of the people involved.

Clark tried to make his point that the brigade that was actually trained in disaster control and support was stationed in Iraq. But he just couldn't get the point across forcefully enough and ended up looking like he agreed with O'Reilly.

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