Talk:James Lee Witt

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Intro to James Lee Witt: James Lee Witt, who headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the Clinton administration, was named September 4, 2005, as Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco’s liaison with FEMA following the August 29, 2005, strike upon the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina.

Lenin, "Natural disasters and free market fundamentalism," Lenin's Tomb, September 3, 2005:

Some more information on the profiteers of privatisation. I received a very brief, slightly cryptic note in my inbox: "Three words in the [IEM] 6/04 press release: James Lee Witt. What did he used to do?" So, one question: Who is James Lee Witt? According to the blog, Talk Left, he was FEMA director under Clinton and an all-round good egg. He got down and dirty, and was prepared to do just about anything to mitigate the disasters that accrued down South under Bubba. He's fairly eulogised in that post, probably on account of the American left's infatuation with Clinton. Well, what is he up to these days? He now runs James Lee Witt Associates, which was co-drafted alongside IEM" -- Innovative Emergency Management -- "to help run New Orleans' emergency response programmes. His website too seems strangely reticent about its role in the catastrophe, merely directing one to a list of FEMA-approved agencies which can help, and also citing a Letter to the Editor from his eminence, couching a bit of self-puffery in policy advice. This article on the privatisation drive in FEMA and governmental disaster management programmes notes that while James Lee Witt was himself once a staunch critic of Bush's privatisation drives, but shut his gob once his firm won a contract in Orlando, Florida (Jeb Bush country) to help win the city a sizable share of FEMA funding in the wake of Hurricane Charley - yes, they won't just give you the money now. You've got to sell your case to the federal government.

Previously on George W. Bush: Hurricane Katrina page and deleted due to overbyte:

Compensating for Incompetence

  • Louisiana Governor Blanco "has refused to sign over National Guard control to the federal government," the Associated Press reported, "and has turned to a Clinton administration official, former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief James Lee Witt, to help run relief efforts."

Note: This is everything in the AP article about Witt. Have to keep looking, as I am sure I saw something about Witt being pro bono or words to that effect. The article does not reveal that Witt was a client and working with IEM on this project, which may be AP's fault for not getting or asking for more details. Both Witt and the City of New Orleans are IEM clients. This stinks, literally!

After inserting the above paragraph about Governor Blanco NOT turning over National Guard control to the federal government, which in this case would have been FEMA, in reality she did, as Witt represented both IEM and FEMA at this time. He could not have been "helping," as the AP puts it, he was DOING HIS JOB! Artificial Intelligence 15:16, 19 Sep 2005 (EDT)

Okay, here's the part of the September 4, 2005, transcript where Witt tells Rita Crosby how he got involved. Please let me know if you see it mentioned anywhere that Witt was then in NO on behalf of FEMA, IEM, or anybody else:

RITA ... Also the former director of FEMA, James Lee Witt, is becoming a new figure back on the scene.
You know, you had a tough job when you were head of FEMA; now here you are being recruited again. The governor of Louisiana asked you to step in. What did she ask you to do?
JAMES LEE WITT, FORMER DIRECTOR, FEMA (on camera): Governor Blanco called me and asked me would I come down and offer them some help because of my experience in the past with dealing with this kind of situation, and so we‘re advising her in what she needs to do and what they need to do in Louisiana, by start planning, not only in the response but also to start planning to put some temporary housing in place, the long-term reconstruction, which is...
(split screen): ... going to be critical.
COSBY (voice-over): When did you get the call, and when did you actually get involved? I‘m sure you were watching the hurricane anyway.
WITT: I was. I watched every station every day as I could. We got the call on a Thursday, and I flew down on Friday.
COSBY: And where—your role is essentially going to be a liaison, right, between --
WITT: Senior advisor to Governor Blanco.

Not sure who the we're is that Witt referred to ...

Also, if you fit the pieces together, it's IEM's and Witt's "plan" that has failed here .. I'd say that he was there trying to save his bloody arse. Artificial Intelligence 15:24, 19 Sep 2005 (EDT)

I suspect that when he says we're he referrs to his company, which probably has the contract with the Governor, not his self. I don't see how his or their "plan" was in place to fail. In the Sept. 4 interview he says that he flew down on Friday (two days prior); that'd be the 2nd. N'Orleans flooded on Mon-Tues prior to that. I miss the point where he did something which later needed to be fixed. --Maynard 23:54, 19 Sep 2005 (EDT)