There was a lot of chatter on the right wing blogs in the days following Katrina, about how the Louisiana National Guard wasn’t actually stretched too thin at all and how the troops and equipment in Iraq wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Unsurprisingly, this turns out to be questionable at best:
In interviews, Guard commanders and state and local officials in Louisiana said the Guard performed well under the circumstances. But they say it was crippled in the early days by a severe shortage of troops that they blame in part on the deployment to Iraq of 3,200 Louisiana guardsmen. While the Pentagon disputes that Iraq was a factor, those on the ground say the war has clearly strained a force intended to be the nation’s bulwark against natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Reinforcements from other states’ National Guard units, slowed by the logistics and red tape involved in summoning troops from civilian jobs and moving them thousands of miles, did not arrive in large numbers until the fourth day after the hurricane passed. The coordinating task was so daunting that Louisiana officials turned to the Pentagon to help organize the appeal for help.
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The senior commander of National Guard troops at the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, said the Iraq deployment did not slow the hurricane response. He said that Louisiana Guard troops were “in the water and on the streets throughout the affected areas rescuing people within four hours of Katrina’s passing,” and that out-of-state troops arrived as soon as they could be mustered.
But state Guard commanders disagreed. “We would have used them if we’d had them,” said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a spokesman for the Louisiana Guard. “We’ve always known in the event of a catastrophic storm in New Orleans that we’d use our resources up pretty fast.”
There is little disagreement that Guard equipment sent to Iraq, particularly hundreds of high-water trucks, fuel trucks and satellite phones, could have helped speed the response. The chairmen of the Senate National Guard caucus, Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, and Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said in a Sept. 13 letter to Mr. Bush that the Guard nationally had only 34 percent of its equipment available for use in the United States.
…it makes perfect sense that such a disproportionate percentage of the top bloggers on the right/conservatarian axis are trained as lawyers i.e., trained to make the facts fit the argument, rather than the inverse, and when the facts fail to cooperate, to raise doubt where none should plausibly exist.