Yesterday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), held a field hearing in New Orleans to discuss the “red tape and bureaucracy hindering Louisiana’s economic recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” At the outset of the hearing, a protestor called for investigating the White House. Here’s how CNN described the scene:
Susan Roesgen, CNN Correspondent: A protester, a well-dressed young man — he was wearing a white dress shirt and a tie. No one suspected anything was amiss. He stood up. He was holding a hand-lettered piece of cloth that said, “Probe the White House.”
He was shouting, shouting at the senators, as you see here. … But what this person was protesting was he said that Senator Lieberman needs to do more and should do more to lead a federal investigation of the White House response to Hurricane Katrina similar to the 9/11 Commission hearings. He said that has not been done, he wants that to be done.
There are still key questions left unanswered about the administration’s disaster response. Former FEMA chief Michael Brown said that in a still-secret videoconference shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans, he warned presidential aides that 90 percent of the city was being “displaced,” but was greeted with “deafening silence.” Brown also suggested “party politics played a role” in White House reactions to the aftermath of Katrina.
When he was running for re-election, Lieberman pledged to investigate the White House’s conduct in the aftermath of Katrina. But, Newsweek recently reported:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the only Democrat to endorse President Bush’s new plan for Iraq, has quietly backed away from his pre-election demands that the White House turn over potentially embarrassing documents relating to its handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
Lieberman said he was not interested in “looking back, and assigning blame would be a waste of Congress’ time.” Responding to yesterday’s protestor, Lieberman said, “We don’t want to play ‘gotcha’ anymore.”