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Floods: Army Corps Says PR Turns Babblers into Spokespersons

By       Message Georgianne Nienaber     Permalink
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Titan Corporation is an interesting entity. Information provided on the company's hiring website indicates Titan has 11,000 employees and sales of approximately $1.5 billion per year. As a provider of national security solutions, Titan's business focus includes: "Homeland Security and War on Terrorism; C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance); Enterprise Information Technology; and Transformational Programs."

Titan also has a $54.8 million contract with the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) to support the development of spy planes, and an $18 million to design war games for the US Navy.

President Reagan in 1988 appointed Galloway to the Mississippi River Commission. From 1993 to July 1994 he was assigned to the White House to lead the Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee after the 1993 Mississippi River floods. In 1998, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a member of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee. From 1974 to 1977, he commanded the Army Corps of Engineers District in Vicksburg, Mississippi, "managing a multi-state water resources development program that included the operation of 7 large dams." In a nutshell, Galloway has spent more time on the Mississippi River as a federal employee than Huck Finn did rafting.

In the end Galloway, a member of the USACE, was used by the federal government to investigate USACE. Now Galloway is the media "expert" on what is wrong with the levee system.

With the level of Galloway's knowledge of surveillance, one would have to ask why some sort of remote sensing by fixed wing aircraft or satellite has not been used to monitor levee safety. Or perhaps it has.

In a telling appointment that has not been discussed, Galloway was on a committee that addressed issues relevant to proposals to draw water from the Great Lakes. This is the elephant in the room that the USACE is avoiding. What is the water management policy of the United States? The aquifers are drying up, and development engineering that allows massive runoff of surface water because of concrete and curb and gutter construction is continuing. Galloway knows this, but his "spin" was that, like the Dutch have done, the US. needs to prepare for 1,000 year floods. This distracts from the issue of engineering malfeasance in the present, and local water zoning ordinances that are not enforced in flood plain communities.

Mix the issues and mix the message. Confuse the public. Divide and conquer. Yes we need to engineer for the future, but that does not excuse the malfeasance of the present. It does not excuse a war economy that is building dams and water control structures in Iraq while denying money for infrastructure at home. It does not explain how the Louisiana Morganza Floodway reconstruction estimates have soared from millions to billions of dollars. It does not explain how several little pigs were considered such a threat to a levee in Iowa that they were shot and killed. It does not explain the spin talk in New Orleans that describes bubbling, flowing water near the reconstruction of the 17th street Canal as "a little wet spot."

When Pigs Swim
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On June 18 US News and World Report picked up an Associated Press story that detailed how several pigs had their bacon fried by local officials when the pigs escaped from and avoided floodwaters by climbing onto the levee near Kingston, Iowa.

Floodwaters were described as "raging," and the article quoted officials who maintained they killed the porkies over "worries that they would weaken the levee."

"Basically you cannot have something with a hoof walk on plastic and not poke a hole in the plastic and let water into it," said LeRoy Lippert, chairman of the county emergency management commission. "Hogs, they have a tendency to root and that would not have been good either."

So we have a federally designed and managed levee system, thoroughly investigated by spokesman General Galloway after the floods of 1993--one that "does its job" until it rains, or is threatened by a few pigs with sharp hooves?

Industrious Quackers
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Dangerous Trees and Opportunistic Ducks

On June 19 the USACE office in New Orleans issues a press release, which indicated that the Corps was seemingly keeping a close eye on maintenance of the 17th Street Drainage Canal levee that failed catastrophically after Hurricane Katrina, flooding most of the central city.

"In another step to reduce risk for the greater New Orleans area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon begin the removal of trees and fences along the east bank of the 17th Street Canal. The root systems of these trees invade the levee channels for seepage that can threaten the levee," the release read.

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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