Bush Officials Spreading Lie About Governor Who Blew Whistle On National Guard Shortages

Earlier this month, after a tornado destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, Kansas, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) spoke out about how the war in Iraq had severely drained the state’s National Guard, slowing recovery efforts for disaster victims.

Now the Bush administration is exacting revenge:

Bush administration officials, stung by complaints from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that National Guard heavy equipment needed by tornado-stricken Greensburg, Kan., is in Iraq, are putting out word that she was two days late at the disaster scene because she was attending a jazz festival in New Orleans.

But according to a report in today’s Wichita Eagle, the Bush rumor is completely false:

Yes, Sebelius was in New Orleans with her family when the tornado hit that Friday evening. But she was notified that night about the tornado, and she and her staff in Kansas immediately began trying to assess the damage. When the scope of the disaster became clear, they began making arrangements for her return.

Sebelius didn’t attend any of the jazz festival and left her family in New Orleans, flying back Saturday afternoon using a plane arranged by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Earlier, the White House had floated the line that Sebelius was responsible for the Guard shortages, saying it was “not aware of any prior complaints” by the governor about the lack of equipment. But reports soon surfaced showing Sebelius made at least five separate requests for equipment, beginning in Dec. 2005. Apparently it’s back to the drawing board for the Bush spin team.