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More evidence has emerged that the international outpouring of emergency aid to save lives in Haiti has been needlessly delayed by the US military, whose priority has been to first deploy its own troops and military equipment. Because of this, many may have needlessly died, and Haitians are still wandering around Port-au-Prince waiting for medical care, water and food.

  Lt. General Russel Honoré (who led the Army rescue into New Orleans) first raised this criticism a couple of days ago in the media, including USAToday and on CNN with Anderson Cooper, as noted in my previous diary. Honoré urged the US to not wait for troop deployment but bring in the aid immediately, saying "search and rescue and evacuation trumps security."

  Today's New York Times has provided more confirmation of this criticism.(see "Officials Strain to Distribute Aid to Haiti as Violence Rises")

  The Times writes about "a troubled relief effort" in which "only a small part of [the aid] was reaching desperate Haitians without food, water or shelter." Several paragraphs later, they reveal what has been holding up the aid for days:

Even as the United States took a leading role in aid efforts, some aid officials were describing misplaced priorities, accusing United States officials of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops installed and lifting their citizens out. Under agreement with Haiti, the United States is now managing air traffic control at the airport, helicopters are flying relief missions from warships off the coast and 9,000 to 10,000 troops are expected to arrive by Monday to help with the relief effort.

The World Food Program finally was able to land flights of food, medicine and water on Saturday, after failing on Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. Those flights had been diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.

"There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti," said Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency’s Haiti effort. "But most of those flights are for the United States military.

He added: "Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync."

  Honoré correctly called for the US to "come off script" and deploy the aid without waiting for a massive troop deployment. In fact, the delay has only worsened the security situation, as desperate people do desperate things. As Honoré told Anderson Cooper on Friday:

Just because these people are poor, it doesn’t mean they are dangerous. We ran into this same thing in New Orleans. Everybody got their flak jacket and M-16 on. It comes down to, my understanding is that people were afraid because they were poor and they were in the street and they were in crowds. It’s nothing to be scared of...You got to move and move now.

Originally posted to factchecker on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:39 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I read about this on, too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Midwesterners, kyril

      so, good post.

      Gary Wills on Obama's Afghan occupation: "What really matters are the lives of the young men and women he is sending off to senseless deaths."

      by formernadervoter on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:48:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The US Air Force got the Airport up and running. (10+ / 0-)

      They can bring in 48 planes a day. Lack of fuel is hampering everything. Both the Haitian Government and the UN received crippling losses.

      The Coasties [Coast Guard which has moved from DoD to HS] was there immediately.

      When the USS Carl Vinson arrived they began purifying water and delivering food and water by helicopters. The food drops are not the best yet because they are going to areas that can't be reached by roads and are just dropping supplies.
      Yes, it is less than ideal, but it is what Honore was talking about. It does take time for a carrier to get to the scene.

      Saw Navy Medics [Devil Doc} with battlefield medic supplies and a support crew of a few Squids delivering first aid and pain meds. They used ceiling tiles from the ship and pieces of wood for splints for broken bones.

      The Marines will be coming with amphibious landing craft to bring equipment to open the port and deliver supplies.

      The USS Comfort had to be loaded with supplies and has sailed from Boston.

      Yes, I saw the 82nd standing at the Air Port, but think that they were waiting for the mission, logistics to catch up with them.

      You need to listen more closely to what Honore was saying. His original comments were in response to the Doctors leaving the Hospital tent that Dr. Gupta took over because of security concerns. Turns out that the Doctors requested to leave and called for transport out.

      PS: NOLA was a major flustercluck except for the Coasties until Honore got there. FYI: the National Guard got there first, but in a National Disaster the state Governor is the CiC of the Guard.

      Mostly, this diary is BS.

      "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

      by deMemedeMedia on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:04:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. (6+ / 0-)

        With 3 million affected, it was totally inevitable that relief would not and will not reach people quickly enough. The United States is all over this, and while I'd be surprised if no mistakes are made, I'd be more surprised if the US govt has acted as stupidly as these critics are suggesting. My belief is that there will be plenty of time for studying this effort to improve it in future disasters, but anyone complaining at this stage really doesn't know what they're talking about.

        I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

        by doc2 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:17:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Damned if you do, and damned if you don't (8+ / 0-)

      Everyone is desperate to get supplies to needy people, so the people in charge are always questioned and criticized, probably rightly so.

      However, if they did not get security up, and aid workers were harmed and materials stolen, then they would also be criticized for not providing stability.

      The US Military is a huge bureaucratic beast, and they will surely make lots of mistakes, but they have a logistical infrastructure capability that no one else does, and that is needed.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:21:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Honore is considering running (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC, translatorpro

      for the GOP nomination in the LA senate race. But quote him proudly to support your view that Barack Obama is screwing up.

      I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

      by doc2 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:24:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah we should be taking (10+ / 0-)

    advice from the guy.

    Lt. General Russel Honoré (who led the Army rescue into New Orleans) first raised this criticism a couple of days ago in the media,

    How did his operation work out in New orleans huh.

    The US military is doing a good job given the circumstances, you cannot just magically appear in Haiti you need to take equipments which unfortunately takes time.

    This is the time to help,not spew BS talking points.

    "This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected". -Barack Obama

    by indepenocrat on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:46:03 AM PST

  •  Not ready to pass judgement on anybody (11+ / 0-)

    and any aid organization worth their salt is going to scream at the top of their lungs demanding better treatment and access.  

  •  Oh good grief, not again. (19+ / 0-)

    Have you ever been in a disaster? I have, a few times, and I dare you to get past demolished roads and infrastructure.

    Complicate that with demolished air control towers in Port Au Prince, and damned straight, it's a mess there.

    You have no idea what you're talking about. I dare you to live without electricity or running water for over a week, to be locked into your location by roads that are impassable all around you, to have little or no means of communication because the usual means have been destroyed.

    Then, you might just have a clue.

    FDL = The Teabagger wing of the Democratic Party

    by indubitably on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:51:33 AM PST

  •  I think that's silly (17+ / 0-)

    If you're saying that that aid is hobbled by the fact that the US militarily is only secondarily an aid organization, I guess they're guilty as charged.  But I'm not sure that's a meaningful criticism.  I could just as well criticize all of the people who've generously given money for Haitian relief because they looked first to their families' economic needs in determining how much to give.  

    Enrich your life with adverbs!

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:52:48 AM PST

  •  The U.S Military is doing everything right in (11+ / 0-)

    Haiti as far as I can see. Without them who will provide the much needed security if and when any looting might begin.

    •  I've been thinking that, too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doc2, eztempo, soms

      I've found myself wondering, had we poured this much military aid into New Orleans, maybe the outcome would have been much, much better.

      Looting isn't a concern for me - but people need help, and fast.

      FDL = The Teabagger wing of the Democratic Party

      by indubitably on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:28:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's no so much the looting as causing more (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        highacidity, soms, indubitably


        If supplies were just made available without any protection or organization, the weakest would be at a disadvantage. The strongest would mob the supplies - some would take more then they need and try to sell the rest. Yes, there are people that are that low!

        There would be more carnage as if there wasn't enough already.

        Some organization and protection is necessary. Not only for the people of Haiti, but also for the caregivers.

        In addition, there is no government to manage all the supplies and aid coming from so many sources. Coordination is necessary to get the right supplies to the right people.

        I heard an interview yesterday that there were actually too many field hosptials  coming in includind one very large one from Israel and  what was really needed was more nurses and doctors who specialize in crush injuries.

        There should be one organization that has the capablity of organizing the inflow of aid to disaster areas. One that can cut all the red tape and direct "the traffic."

        It just seems that no matter how well intentioned everyone is there are always buracratic foul ups.

        Seems that chaos breeds chaos.There is no magic wand.

        It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

        by auapplemac on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:56:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          soms, CuriousBoston

          I guess my worry was labeling desperation as looting, when that's not what it is. Organization and accessibility to all is an entirely different thing.

          FDL = The Teabagger wing of the Democratic Party

          by indubitably on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:06:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  In theory, it would be nice to have (0+ / 0-)

          one, centralized, ubercompetent traffic cop. But research has shown that decentralization is almost always an asset in real world situations. Especially this case, in which several million people are impacted over a wide area, I am very happy that this is a decentralized effort (but that the US military is leading the charge).

          I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

          by doc2 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:31:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  What they're doing is getting the heavy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      equipment and crews on the ground and starting to clear roads (and runways). Without that equipment, all the materiel that is now coming in would not have been deliverable due to blocked roads.

      I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

      by doc2 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:20:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Other countries are there too. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citizenx, blueoasis, miss SPED

      We seldom hear about it...
      I saw Bolivian troops doing crowd control under UN
      command on CNN.

      Finally, the third woman appointed to the Supreme Court. About fucking time.

      by cosette on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:50:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I read earlier about "looting" of food stocks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that had been assembled in case of hurricanes.  (Correct me if I am wrong about this.)  If those food stocks were not otherwise being distributed, is it not preferable that they at least be distributed via looting?

  •  asdf (5+ / 0-)

    Maybe this is why Honere is taking pot shots.

    •  Jeez. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "The Louisiana Weekly and have learned that the hero of Hurricane recovery, General Russell Honore is seriously considering entering the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate seat against incumbent David Vitter

      And people here, on dKos, are quoting him to support the allegation that the Obama administration has fucked this up.

      I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

      by doc2 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:22:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  BS diary - security is important and efficient (15+ / 0-)

    You need to establish security and safety zones, where you are in control, before you can distribute aid safely.

    Already, aid workers have been stabbed, robbed and shot at. Two turned up at their embassy yesterday, having been shot at and wounded.

    If you just drop aid into the area, without supervision, the weakest and most wounded will get nothing, and the strongest will be fighting over it.

    I've seen it happen.

    "If you don't use your majorities, you lose your majorities."

    by SteinL on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:15:14 AM PST

  •  Heard a brass hat on MTP today (13+ / 0-)

    responding to this criticism.  He pointed out that a lot of relief supplies are being brought in on the U.S. military transport planes in addition to U.S. troops.

    Security, it seems to me, is important to make sure that the weakest people are included in getting help.  With no security, the strongest could try to take as much as possible and try to sell what they don't need for themselves.  The weakest and the poorest could go without anything.  Imagine the outcry if that happened.

    Another thing - without security, distribution of food and water to a desperate mob of people could result in a lot of waste.  

    "It's a sight to see." Pres. Obama - Dec 8/09

    by Observerinvancouver on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:25:19 AM PST

  •  very complex issues (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am hearing directly that there are severe problems and folks are trying to understand why there is so little US aid on the ground. I wish I could understand - I have been giving us the benefit ...but ...

    "Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and legs collapse." - Al Gore

    by parryander on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:35:51 AM PST

    •  What is "so little"? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citizenx, LNK

      Planes are landing every 5-7 minutes, each of them filled with supplies or rescue crews. The aid is definitely "so little" relative to the number of people impacted, since that number is about 3 million. There's just no way that meals, water, clothing, and shelter can be brought in and delivered to that many human beings in 5 days. This is going to take a while, due simply to the numbers and to logistical challenges.

      I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

      by doc2 on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:33:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is what (0+ / 0-)

        I am hearing directly - via phone calls - with people on the ground in Port au Prince - this morning. I was dismayed to hear it - believe me. They are seeing other countries, but not the US - even in the area around the palace. I'm just the conduit.

        "Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and legs collapse." - Al Gore

        by parryander on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 03:38:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What exactly... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, LNK, Nebraskablue, soms

    do you think the military should be doing in Haiti that it is not already doing?

  •  A problem, yes, but I can understand the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, LNK, soms, kerflooey

    military's point of view.

    In a situation where the local government and police are unable to provide even rudimentary protection for medical people (and their supplies) in the field, and the high likelihood that the security environment will deteriorate -- probably very rapidly when it does -- I can understand the military's determination that "protection of forces" has an immediate priority.

    After all, no one wants to see medical relief workers injured or worse in melees, nor see their supplies stolen only to appear on a black market hours later.

    I'd hope to see a mix of deliveries that gets supplies on the tarmac as rapidly as they can be effectively distributed.  But, to enable and to expand that delivery capability, you're gonna need military vehicles and a uniformed "authority" protecting them.

  •  You need to have security and order before you (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, highacidity, ranger995, soms, kerflooey

    can deliver aid to people.

  •  Lifting their citizens out? (9+ / 0-)

    Every plane that leaves with U.S. or other citizens is arriving with personnel or supplies, so I don't see where that should be a problem.  Unless somebody is alleging that planes are arriving empty, just to ferry Americans out, which is an allegation I haven't seen being made anywhere.

  •  Here comes the wingnut and media attacks. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, LNK, deMemedeMedia, trumpeter
  •  The first priority of the United States... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, ranger995, citizenx, LNK, miss SPED ALWAYS the safety of its own citizens first, period.  And a military can't do its job unless they have their own logistics down first.

    I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places...arousing and persuading and reproaching you.-Socrates

    by The Navigator on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:23:36 PM PST

  •  Wounded Americans at Guantánamo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deMemedeMedia, miss SPED

    Meanwhile, the Navy and Coast Guard are using the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba as a way-station for wounded American citizens being evacuated from Haiti, said Jose Ruiz, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

    To think of the unbelievable devastation and to even start to think of all that must be dealt with is mind boggling.

    "We are tired of war," he said. "We don't want it anymore."

    by allenjo on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:32:19 PM PST

  •  Didn't Haitian President ask for military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miss SPED

    to take priority in setting up airport and staging areas?

    I really don't follow this diary because military IS aid. The two go together - security, stabilizing infrastructure, searchand-rescue, food, water, shelter.

    It's not as if our military is getting priority to go in and invade the country.

    P.S. And why not complain about how various nations are going in to help their own citizens first? If one wants to complain.

    I'm warming up to complain that we aren't doing enough to prepare for the (future) earthquake in Kingston, Jamaica.
    Los Angeles, CA. New Madrid Fault in US Midwest might be the worst.

    I love to complain and find fault, but when it comes to situation in Haiti  not so much.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:40:47 PM PST

  •  BS diary and BS Honore (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I read the link in an above comment.....

    Honore says how angry he gets whenever they say they have to go in and do an assessment. Jeez. Get angry if they take weeks to write up a report, but if an assessment isn't done, ........Sheesh.

    Thank you, commenters, for clarifying the issue.

    I'll wait and more likely believe criticism from our own people who are on site.

    And, it can't be said enough--it's not our country. We have to do what the Haitian leader wants.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 12:52:24 PM PST

  •  Is this txt for real? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I just got a text message as follows:
    Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti (Organizing for America. Text STOP to unsubscribe Msg&Data rates may apply)

  •  Remote Area Medical gets around bottlenecks (0+ / 0-)

    This group appears to be a low-overhead, high proportion of services delivery medical non-profit aid organization.  They're flying their own ancient plane into Domincan Republic right now, and will deliver doctors and supplies in the future.

    Check them out for yourself, and see about donating with a "100% designated" gift here.

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