Blanco administration officials said the governor spoke twice to Bush - once Sunday morning, in the hours before Katrina made landfall, and again Wednesday morning after the storm. In both telephone conversations, according to Blanco and her senior aides, the governor asked Bush for increased federal help.
"I asked him to send me everything he's got," Blanco said of their first conversation,. In their second conversation, Blanco was more specific, saying the state needed 40,000 troops to restore order and complete the search and rescue mission.
But state officials said the governor didn't ask directly for active-duty troops. Bottcher said the governor was prepared to accept any combination of Guards members and regular Army troops, as long as there were enough numbers to calm the city and complete the rescue effort.
The subject of active-duty troops did not come up until a face-to-face meeting on Air Force One on Sept. 2, when Blanco and Bush spent about 45 minutes meeting behind closed doors. But the president's order to deploy was not made until the following day, and in the meantime the White House and the Blanco administration tussled over who ultimately would be in charge of the rescue effort.
This does not sound like an engaged, pro-active federal response. Apparently, the president needs to be given a specific number before he does anything. Why would the Bush people be worrying over legal niceties concerning the deployment of troups when help had been requested and people were dying. Was it, as Richard Baker suggested (below) to solve the problems of public housing in New Orleans?