Last weekend began news reports that the Red Cross still had not entered New Orleans and that this was because Louisiana state officals were barring entry to the relief organization. While it is true that the Red Cross is not delivering aid to people inside New Orleans, Media Matters documents that responsibility for this genocidal policy lies entirely with FEMA and the Red Cross itself. Furthermore, Media Matters has shown that Red Cross officials have been colluding with the Bush administration in misdirecting blame to the state and local officials in Louisiana.
Media Matters reports:
Both the federal Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) December 2004 National Response Plan (NRP) and the Red Cross' charter clearly place the Red Cross under the purview of FEMA. Further, the response plan stipulates that federal agencies should strive for full coordination with state officials but not allow such coordination to "impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources."
According to the federal charter of the American Red Cross, the organization has "the legal status of 'a federal instrumentality' " with "responsibilities delegated to it by the Federal government." Listed among these responsibilities is "to maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief, including mandated responsibilities under the Federal Response Plan coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)."
The NRP represents the most recently approved "federal response plan." It confirms that the Red Cross falls under the purview of the federal government:This plan is applicable to all Federal departments and agencies that may be requested to provide assistance or conduct operations in the context of actual or potential Incidents of National Significance. This includes the American Red Cross, which functions as an Emergency Support Function (ESF) primary organization in coordinating the use of mass care resources in a Presidentially declared disaster or emergency.
Departments and agencies at all levels of government and certain NGOs, such as the American Red Cross, may be required to deploy to Incidents of National Significance on short notice to provide timely and effective mutual aid and/or intergovernmental assistance.
On September 2, in the early days of the Katrina aftermath, Red Cross president and CEO Marsha J. "Marty" Evans stated on the Larry King Show that her organization was staying out of New Orleans for the safety of its workers and to avoid giving NOLA residents any incentive to stay.
We're prepared as soon as they can be evacuated, we're prepared to receive them in Texas, in other states, but it was not safe to be in the city, and it's not been safe to go back into the city. They were also concerned that if we located, relocated back into the city, people wouldn't leave, and they've got to leave.
The situation is a mess, but, having worked in Kosovo, Haiti, Bosnia and other places, there could be unbelievable complications sending
Red Cross volunteers - most of whom are not really trained or equipped for this type or scale of disaster - into this situation.
They would really be sending such people into harm's way, especially with the flooding/standing water; no electricity anywhere; NO COMMUNICATIONS, the list goes on.
Many of the volunteers easily could end up victims. They would also be taking up valuable space. The US does not have a civilian corps trained for this kind of situation. I could be wrong but that is my take. I think we're used to seeing images of relief workers helping people in the midst of ruins, but AFTER the danger - or most of it - has passed. This crisis is in active mode.
Back in early September, I thought the second half of the Red Cross rationale—helping starving and thirsty hurricane victims would only encourage them to stay—was gratuitous, Republican, victim-blaming b-s. Now, however, it seems that Evans was hedging her bets to make sure there would be "good" reason to stay out of NOLA, even as conditions changed. As time went on, Evans elaborated and amplified concerns about interfering with evacuation, framing them as concerns of LEMA and the state's National Guard. As we have seen, above, not only was the Red Cross not under any jurisdiction of the state authorities, the December 2004 National Response Plan "stipulates that federal agencies should strive for full coordination with state officials but not allow such coordination to 'impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources.'" By September 8, Evans was emphasizing that state authorities were denying the Red Cross entry because
the thinking was that, if we were to come in, that, one, it would impede the evacuation. They were trying to get everybody out. And, secondly, that it could possibly suggest that it was going to be OK to stay.
Media Matters elaborates that while it has
no evidence that Evans or the Red Cross was working with the White House to project a uniform message, Evans's rhetorical shift is consistent with the Bush administration's efforts to to blame and impute the motives of Blanco and other state and local officials. As Fox News general assignment reporter Major Garrett noted, because of the close relationship between FEMA and the Red Cross, the Red Cross has a direct interest in how FEMA looks to the media and the public: "When FEMA is tarred and feathered, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are tarred and feathered."