Now that all the hysterical “gotcha” headlines have convinced the public that Bush lied in the oft repeated ABC TV interview about the levee breach, here comes the embarrasing retraction, which will invariably be a footnote in the ongoing news coverage; thus continuing the public’s misperception. Supposedly AP had the tape, of Bush being briefed at his ranch before Katrina hit, in their vault for months and only “found” it just now.
the Associated Press reporter, who narrated the videotape, implies that Mr. Bush lied when he said after the storm that nobody had anticipated “the breach of the levees.” This is supposed to be contradicted by the video footage of a pre-landfall briefing in which the National Hurricane Center told the President of the possibility that “the levees will be topped [emphasis added].” But in fact the New Orleans levee system wasn’t topped; it was breached, just as Mr. Bush said — and there’s a big difference between the two. The levees being topped by the storm surge would have caused damage, but arguably much less severe than what happened after the structural failure that actually occurred.

Fri Mar 03 2006 19:48:29 ET

Clarification: Katrina-Video story

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a March 1 story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing among U.S. officials.
The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.
The day before the storm hit, Bush was told there were grave concerns that the levees could be overrun. It wasn’t until the next morning, as the storm was hitting, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had inquired about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.

Here is some background on the levee failures and successes in New Orleans – the distinction between topping and breaching is clear. And a last thought – saying that Bush did not lie about this is different from saying that the Federal response to Katrina was A-OK.  Katrina: What went right

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