Communications Strategies and Contradictory Information
"Communications strategies" are standard - they are plans used by government and business to inform the public, control situations, and mold public
opinion. When officials provide contradictory information, or start flip-flopping and backtracking, it's a sure sign that the communications strategy
is more about serving a questionable agenda than serving truth or the public good.
Officials have been contradicting themselves and each other throughout the Katrina debacle, then playing the "but we didn't know," and the "we're
waiting for confirmation and final information" cards when the contradictions are caught out. The end result? ...They've got an excuse for every
eventuality, and their butts covered six ways to Sunday.
Many, if not all of the contradictions result from distinct focuses in different agencies - it takes a catastrophe to bring the discrepancies out in
the open, where officials are tripped up publicly. Even so, only significant effort will reveal the truth.
The contradictions in "public health" information have not received due attention - in part because the threat of infectious disease is scary, and
most people already assume 'dirty' is risky. Also, the science is complicated, and analysis is elusive.
CONTRADICTORY INFORMATION RE: Public Health
From the outset, FEMA and other security officials were warning the public that the flood waters carried high risks from infectious disease.
At the same time, official
information released by the CDC contradicted the warnings about disease risk coming from security agencies:
]"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it did
not expect serious outbreaks. ...Decaying bodies create very little risk for major disease outbreaks, and the CDC noted that outbreaks of infectious
diseases following hurricanes are rare in developed countries such as the United States.[/url] It said foodborne illness such as salmonella poisoning
was more likely."
The OFFICIAL FLIP FLOP came on Wednesday, September 7:
"Police and soldiers went house to house in New Orleans
Wednesday to try to coax the last 10,000 holdouts to leave the shattered city because of the risk of disease from the sewage-laden floodwaters. ...In
fact, the first government tests confirmed Wednesday that the amount of sewage-related bacteria in the floodwaters is at least 10 times higher than
acceptable safety levels. Dr. Julie Gerberding, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned stragglers not to even touch the water
and pleaded: "If you haven't left the city yet, you must do so." "
On another public health front: EPA officials have issued dire warnings that the flood waters are dangerously contaminated with tons of poisons
ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste and more.
"This is the worst case," Hugh B. Kaufman, a senior policy
analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency, said of the toxic stew that contaminates New Orleans. "There is not enough money in the gross
national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."
See ATS: Potential Disaster
So what's the truth here? Is
there a risk of disease, or not? Is
the city dangerously contaminated with toxic chemicals, or not?
As the DCD originally reported, normal infectious diseases are likely of little concern. The greatest danger from infectious disease in New Orleans
results from new disease mutations. The contaminated flood waters are a "chemical soup" of pesticides, drugs, oil, and other toxins - which can mix
together to create unknown new chemical compounds. Besides being potentially poisonous in their own right, these new compounds may interract with
bacteria and other microbes, facilitate mutations, and speed their rate of reproduction. This mutation process can occur in the water, or inside the
cells of an infected/contaminated host (human or animal).
Strategy Analysis, the Challenge:
The handlers are trying to have it both ways, as per usual. They need to push the 'threat of infectious disease' position hard enough to justify
complete evacuation by force, and to rationalize land appropriation - but NOT so hard that the clean up issue might obstruct unfettered development.
They do NOT want New Orleans to become a Superfund site, which would cut into the take on high-profit clean up contracts.
"Death from infectious disease" likely will be used to explain the heavy death toll - but again, this one could blow up in their faces, and force a
real clean up.
Authorities are leaking information through 'unofficial reports' to suggest refugees are being detained in 'quarantine'
to prevent the spread of disease. Again, the contradictions reveal the truth - if authorities honestly were concerned about the spread of infectious
disease, then ALL refugees would be detained, not just some.
Quarantine Policy Background
PLEASE - post any contradictions, inconsistencies, and backtracking you have seen - with links, of course.
Thanks - sofi