Blame the Environmentalists…

That seems to be the latest tactic of wingnuts around the country, from the Justice Department to FOX News (there’s a shocker…).

From Editor and Publisher:

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys’ offices. Reporter Jerry Mitchell’s conclusion: Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.

He quotes from the e-mail: “Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation.”

Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, told the reporter Thursday she couldn’t comment “because it’s an internal e-mail.”

Shown a copy of the e-mail, David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club, asked why the officials were Β“trying to smear us like this?” He added: “It’s unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to environmental groups. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

NewsHounds has a nice summary of FOX News gasbag Sean Hannity trying this tactic (and getting roundly spanked):

A happy surprise was guest Valsin A. Marmillion, spokesperson for America’s Wetlands, which was not the group who sued to stop the floodgate project. Hannity tried to get Marmillion to admit that the project would have prevented the flood but Marmillion, who remained calm and congenial, told him there was no way to know. Then, much to Hannity’s chagrin, I’m sure, Marmillion added, “What I can say is that if the wetlands had not been disappearing at a rate that they have been, a football field every half-hour, it would be a different story.” He explained that it’s not an either/or proposition but that both have to be done. He said flood control and saving the wetlands “have to go in tandem.”

Thwarted in his effort to blame the flood on environmentalists, Hannity attacked “environmental extremism” for being “the reason we can’t drill anywhere, we can’t do any coal mining, we haven’t built any refineries, we don’t support nuclear power” and for “greatly impacting American lives.”

Marmillion answered pleasantly, “That’s not the story tonight. The story tonight is more complex and I’m glad you raised what you did.” He said that the issue has about 10 or 15 solutions “and what we need to do is marry the wetlands protection with flood protection in a comprehensive plan.” He said the state has been working on it for 10 years and “we’ve been trying to get the attention…” He never said whose attention but it sounded a lot like he meant the federal government. He said that five days before the hurricane, the governor of Louisiana had asked the citizens to “start writing people” and tell them what a serious situation it was.

You go, Mr. Marmillion! Hannity didn’t even have a chance to mention the mayor and the buses.

Seeing how we’ve even seen this one turn up here at sustainablog, I have no doubt that the right’s online stormtroopers are out there trying to spread this meme as quickly and widely as possible. Is there ever a problem or issue complex enough for these folks that they won’t try to pin it on a single progressive issue group? I mean, of course, other than the problems or issues they try to blame on a single person…

UPDATE: CommonDreams has reprinted the article from the Clarion-Ledger. One interesting, important fact you’ll need when the wingnuts come a’callin’: “The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren’t Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city.”

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