Katrina special edition
A crime against humanity
About this edition
From the editors of Shunpiking
(18 September 2005) -- THIS special edition of Shunpiking Online includes eyewitness accounts, commentaries and timelines highlighting some gravely underreported aspects of the tremendous catastrophe gripping the southern US Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina and the lethal disinformation carried by the US state and monopoly media.
Katrina hit this region almost exactly mid-way through the annual Atlantiuc hurricane season. It was the 11th named storm of the turbulent 2005 hurricane season, following the worst-ever 2004 season in decades, and its most deadly and destructive. This hurricane, and its ultimate landfalls, was one of the most accurately-tracked in history and its devastating consequences the most foreknown.
Since Shunpiking magazine began writing about hurricanes and other disastrous natural phenomena in 1996-97 we have strove to bring out that the most devastating factor for residents has not been the terrible force of nature but always the degree of preparedness, above all the human factor/social consciousness. The extent of potential damage is determined or limited by man: his hands, his consciousness, his humanity, his labour, his organization. The response of Nova Scotia/Canada to hurricanes compared with that of Cuba, which we wrote about two hurricane seasons ago, illustrate the great potential of man to consciously prepare for the worst.
On this occasion, however, as Hurricane Katrina pummelled Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama, something far more sinister was unfolding.
The United States, at all levels of the state, abdicated its responsibility and duty to its citizens and society. This is a crime against humanity by all norms of international law and morality.
This goes to the extent that the rule of law has been suspended, the human factor has been repressed, and military and other agendas were and are being implemented. The victim was made into a criminal, debased, humiliated. Disinformation about "looting", chaos and anarchy allegedly unleashed by the people of New Orleans was then counterposed by the media to the bringing of "order" by the US military.
Instead of mobilizing doctors, paramedics and other relief and humanitarian specialists to assist the people, the Bush White House deployed 46,000 armed troops under Northern Command (NORTHCOM which includes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and FEMA under the DHS). Their role: stop people assisting one another, enforce a shoot-to-kill policy, and establish an unprecedented military occupation of a major American city and region. Having failed to force local governors to invoke the civil war-era Insurrection Act, US president George W Bush in his nationally-televised address from unscathed Jackson Square on 15 September 2005 -- illuminated by warm tungensten lights and generators flown into New Orleans by the White House to create the necessary effects -- then openly and ominously called for a "greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a momemnt's notice." According to a US Defense Dept. spokesman, cited by Associated Press on 17 September 2005, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "is reviewing a wide range of possible changes in the way the military could be used in domestic emergencies". The "order" being pushed is federalized military rule in humanitarian clothes.
Whether the reponse of the Bush administration was premeditated, cynically indifferent or incompetent, facts are stubborn things. What virtually everyone has overlooked is that it was the Pentagon's NORTHCOM (which also includes Canada, Mexico and a swath of the Carribbean Sea as part of its "homeland") -- on Thursday, 25 August 2005, four days before Hurricane Katrina made its final landfall -- which had ordered an evacuation of its own military forces and naval ships out of and away from the very same southern Gulf states. They left behind a skeleton force at six military bases in the region. In a variant of the scorched earth policy, local US naval spokesmen made clear, as quoted in and reported by the Army Times, that they had no plans to assist the American people during the impending catstrophe. Naval personnel who actually did so were disciplined and punished by base commanders. New reports, including accounts from eyewitnesses and survivors from the hardest hits areas, suggest the hurricane victims have been deliberately left to die. On the other hand, thousands of residents and volunteers are showing that they are entirely capable of finding organizational, social and political ways and means to solve their problems. They exemplify the social conscience of the American people.
The Indian Ocean earthquake of 26 December 24 and the ensuing Tsunami was widely raised by the media as the example of unprecedented disaster, attributable to the impoverishment of the affected countries, the lack of Western technology and early warning systems, etc. What once again emerges is that the catastrophe wreaked by a natural disaster is not a function of the overall economic conditions and development of the countries hit, because Katrina hit a very rich country, but of the priorities of the society. What matters to imperial America is ensuring its resources and markets throughout the world and at home at gunpoint, not protecting the people and their homes and livelihoods, at home or abroad.
Nor is Canada exempt from the aftermath of Katrina. We do not agree with the decision of the Martin Liberals for federalized military-naval intervention as part of NATO bloc "aid", code-named "Operation Unison". It sets another self-serving justification for "humanitarian intervention" into necolonial countries and constitutes a dangerous precedent for the intervention of US troops into Canada, something facilitated by the bilateral treaty signed in December 2002. "According to the agreement, US troops would be allowed to enter Canada in response to a 'threat, attack or civil emergency' concerning critical infrastructure or to protect 'potential targets' such as nuclear power plants or oil and gas pipelines."  NORTHCOM commands the US-Canadian agreement allowing US troops into Canada and Canadian troops for use inside the US. Is this the reason four naval and Coast Guard ships were deployed to the Gulf Coast and not the DART Task Force ballyhooed during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of which we have heard nothing? As for Canadian troops operating in the US, will you be called upon to act "in defence of the civil power" within the US as the American people step up their opposition to the Bush administration?
In this edition we look at ground zero from the perspectives of the survivors rather than that of the state authorities, and of the deliberate obstacles they have been facing and how they are overcoming them. Through commentaries, Shunpiking is also providing a platform for different views and analyses of Katrina and its aftermath. Shunpiking also researched the foreknowledge of the consequences from such a hurricane to the southern Gulf states and the Mississippi River delta, which could have been brought under human control. We will also soon provide our readers with an extensive day-by-day, in-depth, fact-based timeline using a wide variety of local, national and international sources, on the basis of which we have drawn our conclusions. As we hope our readers of previous timelines will have realized, this has never meant whitewashing or propaganda, but rather providing as honest, objective and contextual a look at reality as possible - as seen through Canadian eyes. This time we draw a line.
The people of the Maritimes and of Louisiana and Mississippi share a common origin in the deportation of the Acadian people, leading to the creation of New Orleans itself, and the African slave trade. Our staff express our profound condolences to the people of the Gulf States on the terrible loss of life and suffering as a result of the failure of the US state to handle the consequences of Hurricane Katrina.
 "Canadian soldiers must not let it pass", Tony Seed, January 2003,
- "Northern Command: arrangements for improving military rule", 29 Jan 2003, TML Dily,
- "Canada's future at stake; Canada, Mexico and Cuba Brought Under US Northern Command Military Zone", 10 May 2002,
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