Cynthia McKinney Claims 5000 People Killed During Katrina
OAKLAND, CA - Cynthia McKinney, Green Party Presidential candidate, charged the Department of Defense with the cover-up of 5,000 execution-style deaths during the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 on September 28. She related that an anonymous mother told her that her son had processed 5,000 corpses, mostly male, with a single bullet wound to the head and entered the results into a Pentagon computer. The mother stated that the son had signed a confidentiality agreement and could not legally talk, and that the bodies were dumped into the swamp. Listen to her statement here. (photo)
The total death/missing toll of Hurricane Katrina was 2,541 per Wikipedia.
McKinney said in the same statement she did receive confirmations from "anonymous insiders" from the Red Cross and that McKinney said she suspected these 5,000 were prisoners of the state.
The federal government did not offer proof to the contrary. Lieutenant Colonel Les' Melnyk stated that "The claim is outrageous on the very face of it and doesn't merit any further consideration. It would be inconceivable that 5,000 people would go missing in America without anyone noticing it prior to this."
I agree with Melnyk that the claim is outrageous but disagree that it does not require further investigation, and I do my best to investigate, unlike Melnyk, below. As far as Melnyk's biting comment that someone would have noticed, while serving in Congress, McKinney chose to be an active participant in the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane, despite the Democratic Party leadership's call for Democratic members to boycott the committee. She submitted her own 72-page supplementary report here.
The McKinney campaign responded with a statement that:
"During the course of Congresswoman McKinney's focus on the victims and their mistreatment, she and her staff received reports of illegal use of force and shootings against innocent citizens from multiple, unrelated sources, including reports of attempts by law enforcement authorities to conceal the evidence of their crimes.
"Because these stories came from multiple, unrelated sources, Congresswoman McKinney did not dismiss them out of hand. She attempted to verify them with limited resources, to speak out about them and to get congressional attention through the Katrina committee hearings. Many aspects of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, despite numerous House and Senate committee hearings, remain unanswered and unresolved, including any final or reliable body counts."
FOX News also decided to ask clinical psychologist Dr. Celia Ward of Washington, DC if she thought McKinney was nuts. Ward said she would not speculate on McKinney's state of mind because McKinney heard the story from someone else, but that "This sounds like a game of telephone [or whisper down the alley]… But to take something that has so many questions attached to it and to treat a rumor as fact is the basis for mass distortion. It's really a good example of Swift-boating. This is the kind of rumor that warrants fact-checking."
I agree wholeheartedly with Ward's last sentence and all prison records need to be checked. That is, unless they were destroyed during the hurricane.
Here are a few facts that my investigation led me to conclude are significant before we look at other pieces of evidence.
FACT: Blackwater is a mercenary company used extensively abroad by the US in Iraq. They were also deployed during Katrina. From a 9/13/05 press release: "Blackwater USA continues to provide support to the hurricane devastated area through a variety of services including search and rescue, helicopter support, security services, and critical infrastructure protection." A 9/1 press release gives the impression that Blackwater was only sending a single rescue helicopter. There is some dispute whether Blackwater armed mercenaries with M-16's were present. The reference to "security services" and "protection" means armed guards to me. If not, the below takes care of that.
FACT: Although my net checking seems to reveal that several, possible many, articles from the American corporate mainstream media were removed from internet, the AP did report on 9/9/05 that "Soldiers toting M-16s strengthened their grip on this swamped city as concerns grew about the risks posed by the rank floodwaters. Officials braced for what could be a staggering death toll by readying 25,000 body bags." So you can imagine a city under martial law, soldiers going from house to house, forcing people to leave their homes at gunpoint. Also plenty of body bags were present, although apparently far in excess. There is some dispute whether body bags were present in high enough numbers to process 5,000 corpses, and this answers that yes, there were.
FACT: I believe McKinney is correct about the absence of a finalized body count, although public access is denied by the government website to get into the Katrina reports. However, her alleged source would probably have worked at the below morgue, which had enough capacity to process the alleged 5,000 corpses. As a sign of the usual federal spending excesses, the New York Times reported:
"After using it for only 10 weeks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has shut down a $17 million state-of-the-art morgue built to handle victims of Hurricane Katrina, according to agency officials. The morgue, which can decontaminate and examine 150 bodies a day and has living space for nearly 500 workers, is closing because the number of bodies coming in has dwindled to about one a week, said Chuck Smith, a FEMA official. Smith said Tuesday the morgue had been developed when officials believed there would be 5,000 deaths… "It is the Taj Mahal of forensic science; it is a beautiful place," said Frank Minyard, the New Orleans coroner… In addition to the morgue, a warehouse, and rows of never-used cubicles, it included a cafeteria and fitness center."
The next pieces of evidence are a 2007 OpEdNews article "Baghdad on the Bayou: Disaster Capitalism and the War on Equality" by journalist Georgianne Nienaber, ACLU reports on prisoner abuse, and an excerpt on disaster capitalism from Naomi Klein. In particular, I encourage the reader to read the entire Nienaber piece. It tells a tale of oil reservoirs and riches below the city that were untapped prior to the disaster due to property rights, levies, FEMA politics and police actions. Excerpts from the piece:
"They found out that Blackwater was killing people. Blackwater was just in there eradicating. If you didn't make it past the checkpoint and got to the dome or the convention center, or the bridge, or whatever, you were fair game…"
"They were claiming that they would deputize to confiscate guns. But they were told to shoot whenever they felt like it."
"Everybody here knows that there are more than 1300 people dead. Everybody that actually got into the city and was trying to help, saw bodies floating, saw bullet wounds. The coroner knows what's going on, and he ain't talking. But he knows. Because I know for a fact from some other sources that he was saying to somebody, probably on a private level, that those bullet wounds were military or highly powerful wounds. [Our investigation noted the same reports from multiple, unrelated sources.]"
President Bush's website famously instituted a "zero tolerance" policy for looting in the aftermath of the flood on 9/2/2005, and later emphasize even if someone was "looting" for "food or water." Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, added a "shoot to kill" order to Bush's "zero tolerance" proclamation per ABC, also on 9/2/2005. What is very stark about these two reports is the tone - Bush's statement is full of congratulations for "a heck of a job" and jovial back-slapping for the FEMA officers while ABC's article is describing a "war zone" and a "national disgrace," a hell on earth.
Concerning the initial Katrina press blackout, also from Nienaber:
"This Katrina thing was handled as if it would have been Iraq. It was handled in a military way for resources, resources were the main focus, and the only difference is that the hurricane scattered people instead of bombs. There were people getting shot, there were bodies everywhere, there was destruction everywhere, and there's oil coming out of the ground like it never has before. Remind you of something else? The only difference is that we didn't have the equipment and the ability to fight back. We didn't have suicide bombers and the things that other people have…"
"You get knocked out, and then you get killed. Look how easy this was to do. All the peoples' records were wiped out. Their city hall, their courthouses, their medical records, and their hospitals-all of that is gone. How easy is it to start taking people out at that point? That's the easiest thing in the world to be able to do…"
"You hide it from the media, you keep the media focused on the [super] dome and the convention center, and you keep giving opinionated stories about what this picture is, and then you pull the wool over everybody's eyes. I don't know what we're doing outside of this country, but I know what I saw right here."
Next piece of evidence is the ACLU's studies on civil rights violations of prisoners during Hurricane Katrina. In their report, "Abandoned & Abused: Orleans Parish Prisoners in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina," the ACLU highlights that 6,500 men, women, and children were forced to remain in Orleans Parish Prison while the remainder of the city was evacuated.
"This culture of neglect was evident in the days before Katrina, when the sheriff declared that the prisoners would remain "where they belong," despite the mayor's decision to declare the city's first-ever mandatory evacuation. [Orleans Parish Prison] even accepted prisoners, including juveniles as young as 10, from other facilities to ride out the storm."
"As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings, power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests …
"Prisoners went days without food, water and ventilation, and deputies admit that they received no emergency training and were entirely unaware of any evacuation plan. Even some prison guards were left locked in at their posts to fend for themselves, unable to provide assistance to prisoners in need.
"The report paints a damning picture of prison authorities-and, like so much of what has resulted from Hurricane Katrina, demonstrates deep-seated bias, hostility, and negligence on the part of those in power."
Several specific examples were:
- Ivy Gisclair, who was being held at OPP for $700 in traffic violations (mostly parking tickets) and had never been in any serious trouble with the law. After days in OPP following the storm, Ivy was transferred to Hunt, where he witnessed stabbings, rapes and countless fights. Ivy was finally transferred to Bossier Parish Maximum Security Prison. His release date came and went. When he asked a guard about it, he was pepper sprayed, repeatedly shocked with a Taser, beaten by multiple guards, and put in solitary confinement with no clothes. Ivy was released in an orange prison jumpsuit at a gas station by the side of the road, three weeks after his scheduled release date. It was the day of Hurricane Rita.
- Renard Reed, a guard at OPP's psychiatric ward who reported to work before the hurricane out of a sense of camaraderie and shared responsibility. Like many other guards, Renard was locked in during his shift to prevent desertion, and was then ordered to go to the roof with a shotgun and shoot anyone trying to leave one of the flooded buildings. He was still stranded at the prison long after the prisoners were evacuated.
- Ashley George, a 13-year-old girl housed in OPP's Youth Center, who was moved to an area adjacent to an adult male holding area where the men watched her use the toilet. As the building began to flood, Ashley spent days in water up to her neck. Adult prisoners rescued Ashley and the other children from the waters. After being taken to the bridge for evacuation, Ashley was lucky enough to be given a bag of potato chips and water. She reports again being forced to relieve herself publicly and that pregnant girls received no assistance or treatment.
The ACLU's "Broken Promises - 2 Years After Katrina" reports that conditions were still unacceptable two years later at the Orleans Parish Prison (pages 19-23, the photos in the 50-page report, taken 2 years later are a bit depressing though).
Lastly, Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) is recommended reading. (video preview) She writes about how the government used the "shock" of the hurricane to redesign the area's educational, social and economic structure while paying $3.4 billion to Iraq War contractors - Blackwater, Halliburton's KBR, Fluor, Shaw, Bechtel, and CH2M Hill:
"As many remarked at the time, within days of the storm it was as if Baghdad's Green Zone had lifted off from its perch on the Tigris and landed on the bayou. The parallels were undeniable… Shaw sent the former head of the US Army's Iraq reconstruction office. Fluor sent its senior project manager from Iraq to the flood zone… The similarities were so striking that some of the mercenary soldiers, fresh from Baghdad, were having trouble adjusting. When David Enders, a reporter, asked an armed guard outside a New Orleans hotel if there had been much action, he replied, "Nope. It's pretty much Green Zone here…"
"Other things were pretty Green Zone too. On contracts valued at $8.75 billion, congressional investigators found "significant overcharges, wasteful spending, or mismanagement." The fact that exactly the same errors as those made in Iraq were instantly repeated in New Orleans should put to rest the claim that Iraq's occupation was merely a string of oversight. When the same mistakes are repeated over and over again, it's time to consider the possibility that they are not mistakes at all…
"Baghdad's Green Zone is the starkest expression of this world order. It has its own electrical grid, its own phone and sewage systems, its own oil supply and its own-state-of-the-art hospital with pristine operating theaters - all protected by five-meter thick walls. It feels, oddly, like a giant fortified Carnival Cruise Ship parked in the middle of a sea of violence and despair, the broiling Red Zone that is Iraq…
"Everywhere in Iraq, the wildly divergent value assigned to different categories of people is crudely evident. Westerners and their Iraqi colleagues have checkpoints at the entrance to their streets, blast walls in front of their houses, body armor and private security guards on call at all hours. They travel the country in menacing armored convoys, with mercenaries pointing guns out the windows as they follow their prime directive to "protect the principal." With every move they broadcast the same unapologetic message: we are the chosen; our lives are infinitely more precious. Middle-class Iraqis, meanwhile, cling to the next rung down the ladder: they can afford to buy protection from local militias, and they are able to pay off kidnappers to have a family member released. But the vast majority of Iraqis have no protection at all. They walk the streets wide open to any possible violence, with nothing between them and the next car bomb but a thin layer of fabric. In Iraq, the lucky get Kevlar, the rest get prayer beads.
"At first I thought the Green Zone phenomenon was unique to the war in Iraq. Now, after years spent in other disaster zones, I realize that the Green Zone emerges everywhere that the disaster capitalism complex descends, with the same stark partitions between the included and the excluded, the protected and the damned…
"It happened in New Orleans. After the flood, an already divided city turned into a battleground between gated green zones and raging red zones - the result not of water damage but of the "free-market solutions" embraced by the president… Post-Katrina New Orleans may be providing the first Western-world image of a new kind of wasted urban landscape: the mold belt, destroyed by the deadly combination of weathered public infrastructure and extreme weather." - Klein, (p. 519-528)
I refer the Reader to Doug Eberhardt's article "America's Infrastructure In 2009: Grade "F"".
I challenge the Reader to find the truth, put it all together and let me know what the truth really is.
This matter is of import to the presidential race. The fact that CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and McBama are all not addressing or even mentioning this issue one week after the McKinney teleconference with the evidence above is reason enough to be suspicious, and calls into question their integrity as Americans.
I would not do what FOX did and infer that Cynthia McKinney is crazy without checking for the evidence first. This is shoddy journalism. Quite the opposite, I commend McKinney for stepping forward and let the evidence dictate the next step, dictate the truth, not simply sounds of blubbering madness or silence from our pitiful press corps and political leaders.
Even if CNN, CBS, NBC, and many others do not choose to exercise their First Amendment rights to the fullest, I will. I do warn you that the day may arrive when freedom of speech is stripped from dissident Americans like myself, and websites like the one you are reading now are closed down. I urge you to speak out before its too late.
Jake, the Champion of the Constitution