Both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported yesterday that the levees in New Orleans were not overtopped by flood waters related to Katrina. Instead, as was reported by NBC News on September 29, and here on September 30, these levees broke due to construction failures related to the instability of the soil beneath them. Moreover, one of the contractors involved in their construction warned the Army Corps of Engineers about this problem in the early ’90s, but these cautions were ignored.
As yesterday’s Times article stated: “The engineers said the findings, which they warned were preliminary, raised questions about the design of the levees and the testing of the relatively fragile soil during the construction of the walls. They also said that on the 17th Street Canal, the source of the flooding in much of the main part of the city, the flood wall broke in an area where a contractor had complained to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers that the soil that anchored the wall was dangerously soft.”
And, yesterday’s Washington Post stated: “In the early 1990s, a New Orleans-based contractor filed a legal claim against the Corps alleging that the soil beneath the floodwall on the 17th Street Canal was poor. A judge dismissed the contractor's complaint in 1996.”
These revelations raise an interesting question: Why aren’t the Times and the Post apologizing to their readers for and/or retracting earlier reports by their respective papers that the levee problems in New Orleans were caused by budget cuts implemented by President Bush?
After all, the NewsBusters squad has on numerous occasions referenced New York Times articles that have blamed the flooding in New Orleans on Bush administration under-funding, including here and here. Moreover, in the days that followed Katrina making landfall, the Washington Post also pointed the finger of blame at the White House in articles such as this.
As such, now that both papers are acknowledging that the breach of the 17th Street Canal – the failure that is responsible for the majority of the flooding in New Orleans -- was caused by a construction flaw that had been reported to the Corps more than a decade ago when a different president was in the White House, why aren’t the Times and Post’s editors making public apologies and/or retractions for every article, editorial, and op-ed published in their respective papers that mislead the public into believing that this was all Bush’s fault?