Friday, March 03, 2006


The AP Misreports Again!

I first reported on the latest round of AP mis-reporting in this earlier post. Today, it gets worse.

The Associated Press continues to factually misreport (as in report untruths) of the recently released video tapes. Today’s story now includes mention of Gov. Blanco saying that levees had not been breached), but in rehashing yesterday’s non-factual but no doubt accurate report, the AP story includes the following:

The new video came to light a day after the AP obtained footage of an Aug. 28 briefing — the day before Katrina hit — that showed officials warning the storm might breach levees, put lives at risk in the Superdome and overwhelm rescuers. Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff were among those on the videotaped call.

Given that, in the latest tape, Gov. Blanco conflates both the “overtopping” and “breaching” of levees, I guess it should not be surprising that the AP reporters don’t realize these don’t mean the same thing, and the hydro-engineering implications of both terms are dramatically different.

For those still fact challenged, “overtopping” means water comes over the top of a levee. The levee is still structurally sound, intact, and will continue to hold back the much greater magnitude of water that remains behind the levee that that amount that comes over. It also means, after the surge, no more water comes in.

“Breaching” means that the levee collapses or there is a break, which, when a levee is already holding back a maximum amount of water, generally would lead to a catastrophic collapse. In this scenario, and hugely greater volume of water comes through the levee, and keeps coming through, until the water level would fall below the base of the levee (the surrounding ground elevation) or there is no more water. Given that we’re talking the Gulf of Mexico, and New Orleans sites below sea level, I don’t think that would be for quite a while under any “breach” scenario. Which is why “breaching” would have been seen as a very serious threat, while “overtopping,” much less so.

The AP includes this gem as well:

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said it "confirms what we have suspected all along," charging that Bush administration officials have "systematically misled the American people."

In this case, the only people systematically misleading the American people are the AP and other media reporters distorting facts, and the crass political opportunists who gladly and knowingly repeat untruths.

Links: Wizbang, Basil's Blog, bRight & Early, Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe, Mudville Gazette, RightWingNation

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