Were New Orleans' Levees Blown Up?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 29, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: In the second "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight a new Spike Lee movie about Hurricane Katrina is fueling an old conspiracy theory about why levees broke. Some people are convinced that the levees were deliberately blown up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around 9:00, we heard a big boom noise, boom, and it was loud, loud, loud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I heard the explosion. We heard it first — the echo from here. I said, "My God, it is the end of the world."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the levee cracked and they helped it the rest of the way. They had a bomb. They bombed that sucker.


KASICH: Joining us now from Los Angeles is political analyst and writer Earl Ofari Hutchinson, whose new book is called "The Emerging Black GOP Majority."

Earl, come on, just comment on these people thinking that somebody went down there and blew these things up.

EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, these are always easy to say but I'm always reminded when you talk about conspiracies, plots and hidden hands there is still a thing called proof, evidence and support. I can understand in a very, very trying situation where people are grasping: "We've got to find something, we've got to find something maybe beyond us, a logical explanation for what happened, this catastrophic event." So oftentimes what happens — we saw that in New Orleans and we've seen it other places too — people grab at the mysterious forces, the hidden hand.

But once again, that theory about the levees being blown up — that's all it is a theory because it's been explained time and time again it was faulty design, it was faulty construction, it was faulty building but there was no hidden hand, absolutely no proof to support any of that. It's all opinion.

KASICH: Earl, it's not a theory, you've got to be a nut case to be thinking that the government or somebody went down there to blow up the levees. Come on. Here is the thing that bothers me, though, Earl. I know you want to talk about responsibility. We'll get to it. Last October, here is what Spike Lee said: "It's not too far-fetched to think that look, we've got a bunch of poor black people here, we've got to save these other neighborhoods, what we got to do, dump this in this ward. Boom. I believe it." What's Spike Lee doing?

HUTCHINSON: What Spike Lee is doing, unfortunately, is pandering to a sentiment out there. Spike has no proof. He has no support. There is no evidence. So whether it's Spike Lee or whether it's someone in the Lower Ninth Ward saying that or whether it's the man on the moon, it doesn't mean anything but still, this grasp for something to explain that they can't explain. Now, let's face it, John, if they, in fact, wanted to exercise a little bit of urban redevelopment, displacing a whole group of people for this big power grab on the part of real estate interests and business interests, I would think they would have done that a long time ago. I would have thought they wouldn't need a Katrina to do that.

KASICH: Earl, why is there no leadership emerging down there? You heard Shepard Smith in the last segment. It seems to me people are walking around in circles and nobody's doing anything. How is it possible that somebody hasn't emerged to say "I'm going to solve this"?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think it's important what Shepard said before about a plan. There is no plan. But it really comes down to this, what he was too polite to say because nobody is on the scene, you're talking about gutless politicians, you're talking about spineless politicians, you're talking about elected officials that don't want to take a position on anything because of fear and cowardice.

We have had one year — this is the first anniversary — one year since Katrina hit and that place still looks like a wreck down there. I think it's a disgrace and a shame. And by the way, there have been billions of dollars as you well know not only from private funding but Congress and other sources. Where is the money? The money is not going to be there because the leadership is not there. They refuse to take a position.

KASICH: Earl, you can believe THE FACTOR is going to figure out where that money is. Earl, thanks for being with us tonight.

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