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Bio-Environmental Expert Blames Feds for New Orleans Floods - FOX Host Does Not Object

Reported by Marie Therese - October 14, 2005

On yesterday's edition of the Big Story, guest John Barry laid the blame for the flooding of New Orleans at the feet of the federal government - and host David Asman did not argue about it.

John Barry is a visiting scholar at the Tulane Xavier Center for Bio-Environmental Research and author of the book Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America. Here are some excerpts from his exchange with Asman:

ASMAN: The idea of moving back in and the same thing happening again six months or a year from now is haunting everybody. How do we keep that from happening?

BARRY: Well, the [Army] Corps of Engineers is already radically altering the way they're building the levees. For example in some of the areas where the sheet piling used to go - the old system went twelve and a half feet deep, now they're planning to put it forty-five feet deep. So that will be taken care of. And then in a longer term project of protecting against a stronger storm and things like that, I'm fairly confident that will occur also.


ASMAN: But as of now is there any sign that any foul play was at work with those levees being broken?

BARRY: No. I don't think so. I think it was, however, human error. There were three separate teams of scientists which reached preliminary conclusions last week that confirmed - including one of those teams came from the Corps of Engineers itself - that earlier they had said that the levees that flooded the bulk of the city - earlier the Corps had said they were overtopped which means the storm simply, effectively washed them away. But now they recognize that the levees were not overtopped - that there was either a design or a construction flaw in them. And I think that this is a very important difference, both morally and politically, because the federal government builds - you know, designs and builds is responsible for those levees and that means that the federal government - and again there's no controversy on this point. We know what happened and the federal government is morally responsible, actually, for the flooding of most of the city of New Orleans.


Either David Asman was caught completely off guard by John Barry's comments or FOX News already knows that the question of the culpability in New Orleans will ultimately be laid solidly at the feet of the federal government.

What I found interesting was Barry's comments about the 180 degree shift in the Army Corp of Engineers analysis of the situation. As with so much in this administration, they blamed "overtopping" for the damage, then had to shift gears to accomodate the facts.

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