Katrina victims “not allowed” to talk to media

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On the subject of Katrina...

Postby Byrne » Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:06 pm

From <!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19475853-2703,00.html" target="top">www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19475853-2703,00.html</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>Billions feared stolen from hurricane relief</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END--><br>June 15, 2006<br>WASHINGTON: The US Government has doled out as much as $US1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) in bogus assistance to hurricane victims, getting duped to pay for football season tickets, a holiday and even a divorce lawyer.<br>Congressional investigators have found that prisoners, a supposed victim who used a cemetery for a home address and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help. <br><br>Agents from the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the US Congress, went undercover to expose the ease of receiving disaster expense cheques from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. <br><br>The inquiry concluded that as much as 16 per cent of the billions of dollars in FEMA help to individuals in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita was unwarranted. The findings are detailed in testimony to be delivered at a hearing today of the House of Representatives Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations. <br><br>To dramatise the problem, the GAO gave politicians a copy of a $US2358 US Treasury cheque for rental assistance that an undercover agent got using a bogus address. <br><br>The money was paid even after FEMA learned from its inspector that the undercover applicant did not live at the address. <br><br>"This is an assault on the American taxpayer," said Michael McCaul, chairman of the subcommittee that will conduct the hearing. "Prosecutors from the federal level down should be looking at prosecuting these crimes and putting the criminals who committed them in jail for a long time." <br><br>FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said the agency, already criticised for a poor response to Katrina, made its highest priority during a disaster "to get help quickly to those in desperate need of our assistance". <br><br>"Even as we put victims first, we take very seriously our responsibility to be outstanding stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are careful to make sure that funds are distributed appropriately," he said. <br><br>FEMA said it had identified more than 1500 cases of potential fraud after hurricanes Katrina and Rita and had referred those cases to the Homeland Security inspector-general. <br><br>The agency said it had identified $US16.8 million in improperly awarded disaster relief money and had started efforts to collect the money. The GAO said it was 95 per cent confident that improper and potentially fraudulent payments were much higher - between $US600 million and $US1.4 billion. <br><br>The investigative agency said it found people lodged in hotels often were paid twice, because FEMA gave them individual rental assistance and paid hotels directly. <br><br>FEMA paid Californian hotels $US8000 to house one individual - the same person who received three rental assistance payments for both disasters. In another instance, FEMA paid an individual $US2358 in rental assistance, while at the same time paying about $US8000 for the same person to stay 70 nights in a Hawaiian hotel. <br><br>FEMA also could not establish that 750 debit cards worth $US1.5million even went to Katrina victims, the auditors said.<br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: On the subject of Katrina...

Postby anotherdrew » Wed Jul 26, 2006 4:56 pm

16% isn't too bad really, better the needy get help than hold it up forever while you try to provide some sort of proof. probably the best system would be to issue the checks with the recipient fully informed that followup will be done later to verify. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: On the subject of Katrina...

Postby Byrne » Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:22 am

16% of US$1.4 Billion is US$ 224 million Dollars. Sure, better the needy get help but it would be interesting to see who received parts of the excess US$224M sum. I doubt if it would have been spread uniformly amongst the awardees. <br><br>By the looks of things, FEMA don’t even know (or aren’t divulging). That is the worrying thing.<br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Katrina victims “not allowed” to talk to media

Postby yesferatu » Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:20 pm

People have no idea how out of control things are down here…”<br><br>I read a story about FEMA not allowing Katrina victims to talk to reporters.<br><br>That sounded a bit outrageous to me so I asked a friend of mine who works in a position which allows her/him to see what’s going on across the state of Louisiana to tell me if it was true. (Sorry, they are not allowed to speak “on the record” to the press!)<br><br>Here is her/his unedited response (with parts taken out which could reveal her/his identity):<br><br> …worse than that, they shut down public religious services and have to sneak in ministers and religious service providers to do private ceremonies in people’s trailers in what residents call the “concentration camps”, you have to show an ID to enter, armed (with machine guns) national guard walking around everywhere like it is a prison, many complain of having to pay the FEMA people for gas and water and other stuff they aren’t supposed to have to pay, many problems with internal policing too, there is only one FEMA bus per day that goes to, you guessed it, walmart…..<br><br> it is like a prison in the biggest of those camps….we went to do XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the cops were running license plates and then at 5am doing sweeps of homes claiming to look for a child molester and instead waking them up at 5am, entering their homes and then rounding up folks with any outstanding warrants of any kind, traffic violations, whatever, so we went a few times to meetings of the internally organized people’s council to explain that you just dont’ have to let the cops into your trailers, your trailers are your homes, and they need a warrant to enter….<br><br> my contact on the organizing council who invited XXXXXX, and many others, mentioned that they wouldn’t let the press in then….that there are occasionallly press conferences organized by the administration and signs are put up on people’s doors telling them they are not allowed to go outside during the times of the conferences….she then showed me that the hand held video camera she was using to tape my presentation was actually from WFAB. Apparently this reporter had been refused so many times that she smuggled in a camera and lots of tape and put it in the hands of the organizing council to tape what was going on….you know for them to give up equipment like that the situation had to be crazy….<br><br> I did lots of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX , mostly at “Renaissance Village” one of the biggest “settlements” in the state with over 1500 families, in Baker, LA, about 30 min outside BR….<br><br> XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX….they just lifted this ban yesterday though (THANK GOD) because of the media pressure.<br><br> People have no idea how out of control things are down here….I mean really unbelievably out of control….<br><br> the complaints for racial profiling and police harrassment…are starting to take a more military influenced direction….the torture techniques made public with abu gharib and guantanamo …are now becoming routine down here….instead of just going and rounding up some black kids in the neighborhood and telling them they have to come out of their own yards to answer some question and then beating them up a bit or searching them and putting a gun to their head or whatever the routine racial profiling scenario would have been pre-k [Katrina], now you see stops without arrests where young black boys are stripped and cavity searched in public, in daylight, in front of the neighborhood….we are collecting…complaints about what the officers in such brutality cases say when asked by the victims “why me”….routinely people are getting responses like “there is still room in the mississippi” or “you didn’t have to come back, now did you.”<br><br> One victim testified at a city council hearing a few months back….pulled over for a windshield wiper violation (I mean, you can’t make this shit up) in front of the 5th precinct in daylight. Beaten severely, dragged back around the corner to his car, left cuffed and bleeding on the side of the street while the police cut up his seats and burned out the inside of his car…dragged him back (remember there are tons of witnesses) and put him in the back of a police car, in the heat, for several hours, took him out, he could barely stand from the heat and blood loss….did a strip and cavity search in front of the police precinct…found nothing, charged him with nothing, let him go…<br><br>[RELOADED: I am getting quite a few emails questioning the validity of the information mentioned in this post. Though I will not name my source these incidents can be verified by looking at local New Orleans news sources.] <br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://chartreuse.wordpress.com/2006/07/27/people-have-no-idea-how-out-of-control-things-are-down-here/">chartreuse.wordpress.com/2006/07/27/people-have-no-idea-how-out-of-control-things-are-down-here/</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--> <p></p><i></i>
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