September 14, 2005

Democratic N.O. Congressman Redirects Rescue Efforts - Saves Laptop!

Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who represents New Orleans, led a daring mission at the height of the flood crisis to help an African-American resident of New Orleans to salvage his possessions and to be evacuated. The complex mission involved a five-ton military truck, six National Guard military police, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter, the pilots, a rescue swimmer, then an additional truck with soldiers, and hours of time--but, it accomplished what this Democratic congressman wanted: to get to HIS OWN house to save HIS OWN possessions and to return HIMSELF safely. Oh, he cares! He wasn't sitting around like George Bush and FEMA--no sir!

Here are excerpts along with a link to the ABC News report:
Amid Katrina Chaos, Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home (Excerpted)
By JAKE TAPPER (Sarah H. Rosenberg, Chris Isham and Ted Gerstein contributed), 09/13/2005

Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned.

Military sources tells ABC News that Jefferson, an eight-term Democratic congressman, asked the National Guard that night to take him on a tour of the flooded portions of his congressional district. (D)uring the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to his home on Marengo Street, in the affluent uptown neighborhood in his congressional district. According to Schneider, this was not part of Jefferson's initial request.

Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour. Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.

'I don't think there is any explanation for an elected official using resources for their own personal use, when those resources should be doing search and rescue, or they should be helping with law enforcement in the city,' said Jerry Hauer, a homeland security expert and ABC News consultant.

Jefferson said the trip was entirely appropriate. 'This wasn't about me going to my house. It was about me going to my district,' he said.

The Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News the truck became stuck as it waited for Jefferson to retrieve his belongings. The soldiers signaled to helicopters in the air for aid. Military sources say a Coast Guard helicopter pilot saw the signal and flew to Jefferson's home. The chopper was already carrying four rescued New Orleans residents at the time. A rescue diver descended from the helicopter, but the congressman decided against going up in the helicopter, sources say. The pilot sent the diver down again, but Jefferson again declined to go up the helicopter.

After spending approximately 45 minutes with Jefferson, the helicopter went on to rescue three additional New Orleans residents before it ran low on fuel and was forced to end its mission. 'Forty-five minutes can be an eternity to somebody that is drowning, to somebody that is sitting in a roof, and it needs to be used its primary purpose during an emergency,' said Hauer.

The Louisiana National Guard then sent a second 5-ton truck to rescue the first truck, and Jefferson and his personal items were returned to the Superdome.

(Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard) said he could not comment on whether the excursion was appropriate. 'We're in no position to comment on an order given to a soldier. You're not going to get a statement from the Louisiana National Guard saying whether it was right or wrong. That was the mission we were assigned.'

In an unrelated matter, authorities recently searched Jefferson's property as part of a federal investigation into the finances of a high-tech firm. Last month FBI officials raided Jefferson's house as well as his home in Washington, D.C., his car and his accountant's house. Jefferson has not commented on that matter, except to say he is cooperating with the investigation. But he has emerged as a major voice in the post-Katrina political debate.

It's interesting that the congressman's name is William Jefferson. Don't we know someone else whose name begins with that? Read the complete article for the congressman's side of the story; and, I guess that we can trust any story from a Democrat named William Jefferson--as long as he doesn't wag his finger at us when he tells it.

Anyway, now that the Democrat congressman has ventured into the flood and the mud, let's hope that he won't be flinging any more of it at Republicans and the federal response.

(Note: Don't look for this story on CNN or CBS.)

Posted by GM Roper at September 14, 2005 11:10 AM | TrackBack

Sounds like we have a lot of conflicting stories coming out of Louisiana these days. And they're not mildly conflicting. They're complete opposite ends of the spectrum. I'm sure there'll be more to come.

Posted by Oyster at September 14, 2005 03:46 PM

Hey! Guess where I saw it! On CNN! Yikes!

If that paragraph constitutes an abuse of the exclamation mark, forgive me. But I do so enjoy tweaking my friend Woody.

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 14, 2005 05:01 PM

Jim! CNN covered this just to make me look wrong! That's how devious they are. I promise that I even went to their web site and couldn't find this covered in any of their news before I wrote that.

Question. Did they take up for the congressman or blame it on Bush?

I wonder how many people would do the same thing if they thought that they wouldn't get caught.

Posted by Woody at September 14, 2005 06:01 PM

I wonder, was the Congressman perhaps trying to regain possession of incriminating evidence before the law got their hands on it? Or did he need the laptop to keep his "enterprises" going? I guess we may never know...

Oh, I just checked the full ABC News article, and it looks like the feds have the same question.

A senior federal law enforcement source tells ABC News that investigators are interested in learning if Jefferson moved any materials relevant to the investigation. Jefferson says he did not.

Of course if he did, I'm sure he would be eager to admit it.

It's also interesting that none of the Guardsman received a reprimand for NOT rescuing people when two Navy pilots did receive a reprimand for rescuing people. (Thanks to Mustang for this report.)

Strange world we live in!

Posted by civil truth at September 14, 2005 08:56 PM

They pretty much just layed it out like you did, Woody, and then gave Boss Hogg a chance to defend himself, during which he said "blah, blah, blah blah blah, erp, blah blah", therein prving his innocence :)

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 14, 2005 09:30 PM

Well, okay. He's innocent, so I guess we can retract the story. As least he proved that he wasn't a racist by helping a black man, even if it was himself.

Right now, I have bigger worries. The Braves are letting their big lead in the NL East slip away. Our pitching is hurting and the bullpen is awful.

Posted by Woody at September 14, 2005 09:38 PM

You know, if the guy had used all those resources to rescue his dog, I think I'd give him a pass. But to rescue his stuff? No way.

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 14, 2005 10:01 PM

I was just thinking...what if that wasn't really his house and he was just looting a laptop and jewelry from someone else. Maybe a television set was in the box. Hmmmmmmm.

Posted by Woody at September 14, 2005 11:15 PM

Wonder what's on that laptop's hard drive? Or in the refrigerator box he needed help with? Stacks of paper are awfully heavy....better to get that stuff out before the reconstruction begins where someone else might find it.

He should have just stuffed them in his pants and socks, then no prob.

Posted by Scott at September 15, 2005 09:56 AM

Scott, I think this just goes to show once again that brilliant minds think alike! [supra]

Posted by civil truth at September 15, 2005 10:45 AM

Of course Jefferson wasn't going to go up in the helicopter and leave behind that refrigerator. What was in it? Last time the FBI raided his house they found cash stashed in a freezer.

This is a shocking disgrace! I understand that helicopter probably felt it had a duty to offer the Congressman assistance. Imagine the hell at HQ if the Congressman complained.

But the poor folk in the helicopter and those waiting to be rescued have rights too.

This story is further proof, as if any were needed, that there is one standard of conduct for Democrats and another for the rest of us.

Posted by Mike's America at September 15, 2005 11:13 PM

"This story is further proof, as if any were needed, that there is one standard of conduct for Democrats and another for the rest of us."

Really? Tell me all about Ton DeLay, why dont'cha.

Posted by jim hitchcock at September 16, 2005 12:13 AM

I've read some more on the Congressman. Seems he stores large amounts of cash in his freezer. Hey, that's a plan what with the pesky banks reporting all deposits over $10,000. Yessir, nothing like a real servant of the people.

Posted by tad at September 16, 2005 07:55 AM

Cash in his freezer? Maybe he gets his "cold cash" from moving hot jewelry and laptops.

Posted by Woody at September 16, 2005 12:25 PM

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