Of course, one thing we do know for certain is that resources that should have been used to improve the New Orleans levies were diverted to Homeland Security:
As the New Orleans Times-Picayune has reported in a devastating series of articles over the last two years, city and state officials and the Corps of Enginners had repeatedly requested funding to strengthen the levees along Lake Pontchartrain that breeched in the wake of the flood. But the Bush administration rebuffed the requests repeatedly, reprograming the funding from levee enhancement to Homeland Security and the war on Iraq.While that is truly unconsciounable, and the Bush administration should receive harsh criticism for this, let's wait until we figure out just what happened to the levies, and whether any amount of improvement might have prevented it, before we blame Bush or anyone else for what happened (and I say this as someone who's always prepared to blame Bush for his failures).
But there is one group whom I think we can start to blame for its role in this disaster now, and should continue to blame for a long time: the media. More and more, I've seen people in Mississippi say that they, or others they've come into conact with, didn't think that the hurricane would hit them, and thus didn't evacuate despite their governor asking them to do so. They thought it was going to hit New Orleans. That the hurricane hit Mississippi so hard should not have been unexpected. All of the forecast models, which, to their credit, the media did air, showed a projected path that covered much of Mississippi. However, every news channel and program I saw discussed New Orleans, and only New Orleans, in the days leading up to Katrina's landfall. Even though the projected path of the hurricane, which they themselves were showing, covered all three states directly affected, all the media could talk about was New Orleans. What were people in Mississippi to think? If the media is so sure that it's going to hit New Orleans, why should they leave their homes?
That's just irresponsible reporting. The media should have made it abundantly clear that the hurricane was likely to hit Biloxi and the rest of the Mississippi coast. The threat to New Orleans was the more dramatic story, but the threat to Mississippi and Alabama was the responsible story. I guarantee you that people in Mississippi lost their lives because of the media's focus on New Orleans. And that's tragic.