Paul over at Wizbang has been doing a bang up job on Katrina. He was on the scene as it happened and has blogged various angles over time. Using videotape taken at the time of the breach and his own photographic evidence, he lays out the case that Katrina per se was only the straw that broke the camel's back, and the levees at the 17th Street Canal were ready to go. He discusses this in The Katrina Video Congress Didn't want You to See. He says that the levees were already being eroded for up to a year before Katrina. He shows videotape evidence that the "surge" of water was not great, as the levees broke earlier than has usually been reported.
This involves issues around Sovreign Immunity. To wit:
We've all heard the story, in the early morning hours of Aug 29, 2005, the Category 4 Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, overwhelming the New Orleans levee system and flooding the city. If you read Wizbang, you've known since early October of 2005 this story was fatally flawed.
In the months since Katrina, we've learned that the storm was a Category 1 by the time she hit New Orleans. No "Super Hurricane," just an average storm. We've also learned that the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System was not overwhelmed by Katrina, it collapsed. Causing the Corps of Engineers admit they flooded New Orleans not Katrina... An admission that got scant little media coverage. The Great Flood of New Orleans was not a natural disaster but a man made one.
The reason the Corps finally had to admit responsibility was that the floodwall that failed -flooding 70% of the city- basically collapsed under its own weight. It was undeniable. The Corps tried for months to claim the water came over the top of the floodwall and washed it away from the backside. (Which would make it Congress's fault) Everyone who has seen the break or looked at the surge data knew this was a lie; that the wall suffered a catastrophic failure before the water reached the top. Almost a year later, the Corps admitted that the floodwall suffered from multiple fatal design flaws and failed prematurely.
What was not really told to the public however is how high the water got up the walls before they failed. - This is an important question to a city rebuilding ~$250 billion in infrastructure. It is commonly assumed by the public that the water must have been quite high.
The question also has legal ramifications. Sovereign Immunity says citizens can not sue the government for damages unless there is negligence or Congress allows the government to be sued. If the public assumption is that Katrina was responsible for the flooding, Congress would never allow the government to be sued.
Perhaps that explains why Congress confiscated a video of the floodwall collapsing and refused to let the public see it until (a perfectly timed) 10 months after the storm. - Well after the storm passed but a few months before the current 1 year anniversary hype.
You've probably never seen it, but we have video taken by New Orleans firefighters as the 17th street canal floodwall was actually in the process of breaking during Katrina. It answers the question of just how prematurely the walls failed. The video was obtained by the National Geographic channel and aired a few weeks ago. (it took me a while to blog it, so sue me)
The video -if you understand it- is shocking. Sadly, no one at National Geographic or even the local TV station got the significance of the video. -- Because they were looking at the wrong thing.
I'm going to explain what is on the video that no one caught and I'll do my best to give you a good understanding of the whole thing.
Before I type their whole story, watch the firefighters' story as told by a local TV station a couple of months ago. As you watch the video, don't worry about the pictures for now, we'll get to them. For now, listen to the reporter and the firemen tell their story.
He suggests that the levee could have broken at another time, a typical summer storm, when people would have just been going about their business instead of most people having evacuated. Read the whole thing.