NEW ORLEANS – Presidential contender John Edwards lambasted the Bush administration Friday for reportedly "squandering" millions of dollars in aid offered by allies after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that $854 million in cash and oil was offered by U.S. allies, ranging from Kuwait to Canada, but so far only $40 million has been spent on disaster victims and reconstruction.
"Turning away, and as a result squandering, $800 million that could have helped the people of New Orleans is another example in a long series of examples of the failures of the Bush administration here in New Orleans," Edwards said.
Edwards made his comments after a brief appearance in jeans and work boots at a site where Habitat for Humanity is building a house in the hard-hit 9th Ward. The former senator and Democratic contender was to speak Friday afternoon at the National Conference of Black Mayors' annual convention.
In December, Edwards announced his bid for the presidency while working to rebuild a home, making New Orleans and its associated social ills a centerpiece to his campaign.
The Bush administration has said it had trouble accepting the foreign aid because Katrina was unprecedented and the United States was unfamiliar with offers of foreign aid.
The Post said its report was based on cables, telegraphs and e-mails from U.S. diplomats obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a public interest group which got the documents via a Freedom of Information Act request.