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Context of 'August 27, 2005: Red Cross Prepares for 125,000 New Orleans Casualties'

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Local, state, and federal officials join the American Red Cross and New Orleans community and faith-based groups to launch a three-year pilot hurricane evacuation program, called “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” under which churches would provide rides to city residents without cars. (Nolan 7/24/2005; Riccardi and Rainey 9/13/2005) The program will be funded through a State Farm Insurance grant to the Red Cross. (Schleifstein 5/31/2004; Nolan 7/24/2005)

The Wall Street Journal publishes portions of the February Red Cross (ICRC) report (see February 24, 2004) on coalition prisons in Iraq. (Cloud, Robbins, and Jaffe 5/7/2004)

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development begins distributing one million evacuation maps to the residents of New Orleans. “We learned the lessons from the Hurricane Ivan evacuation (see September 14, 2004), and we put those lessons to use in developing a new plan,” DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry says. “This document is proof that government can and does listen to the concerns of citizens.” The initial printing of the maps was paid for by the American Red Cross and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. (Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development 6/17/2005)

The Red Cross is reportedly preparing for 150,000 casualties in New Orleans. (Dallas Morning News 8/29/2005)

Shortly after 14 high-ranking al-Qaeda prisoners are transferred from secret CIA prisons to the US-controlled Guantanamo prison in Cuba (see September 2-3, 2006), the International Committee of the Red Cross is finally allowed to interview them. The prisoners include 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Hambali, and Abu Zubaida. The Red Cross has a policy of not publicizing or commenting its findings. However, some US officials are shown the report on the interviews with these prisoners and apparently some of these officials leak information to the New Yorker about one year later. The New Yorker will report, “Congressional and other Washington sources familiar with the report said that it harshly criticized the CIA’s practices. One of the sources said that the Red Cross described the agency’s detention and interrogation methods as tantamount to torture, and declared that American officials responsible for the abusive treatment could have committed serious crimes. The source said the report warned that these officials may have committed ‘grave breaches’ of the Geneva Conventions, and may have violated the US Torture Act, which Congress passed in 1994. The conclusions of the Red Cross, which is known for its credibility and caution, could have potentially devastating legal ramifications.” (Mayer 8/6/2007)


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