Extensive warnings before Katrina

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, risk lives in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage of the briefings.

Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on Aug. 29 but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: “We are fully prepared.”

Six days of footage and transcripts obtained by The Associated Press show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Linked by secure video, Bush’s bravado on Aug. 29 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

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