Most Katrina Aid From Overseas Went Unclaimed
By John Solomon and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 29, 2007; A01
As the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina were receding, presidential confidante Karen Hughes sent a cable from her State Department office to U.S. ambassadors worldwide.
Titled “Echo-Chamber Message” — a public relations term for talking points designed to be repeated again and again — the Sept. 7, 2005, directive was unmistakable: Assure the scores of countries that had pledged or donated aid at the height of the disaster that their largesse had provided Americans “practical help and moral support” and “highlight the concrete benefits hurricane victims are receiving.”
Many of the U.S. diplomats who received the message, however, were beginning to witness a more embarrassing reality. They knew the U.S. government was turning down many allies’ offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars. Eventually the United States also would fail to collect most of the unprecedented outpouring of international cash assistance for Katrina’s victims.