President Bush: "zero tolerance" for Katrina lawbreakers

[JURIST] US President George Bush told ABC's Good Morning America Thursday that there should be "zero tolerance" for the looters who have ransacked New Orleans' stores in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one day after New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared "martial law" to deal with the looting situation [JURIST report]. In the Thursday interview [ABC report; recorded video], Bush said "I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price-gouging at the gasoline pump or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud. And I've made that clear to our attorney general." In a speech [text] from the White House Wednesday, Bush said he had plans to send an emergency budget appeal to Congress requesting funds for the rebuilding of New Orleans and also said he was not requesting aid from foreign countries. Reuters has more.

Meanwhile Thursday, the evacuation of people from the Superdome arena was delayed after shots were fired at military helicopters in the early morning. There are increasing reports of individuals carrying guns and the Superdome has also been plagued by fires set outside the facility, preventing buses from getting close enough to evacuate people. The National Guard is planning to send 100 military police officers to restore order to the area. AP has more. From New Orleans, the Times-Picayune has continuing updates on the emergency.

2:01 PM ET - US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday that the federal government will send 1,400 National Guard troops per day to New Orleans to help shut down looting and lawlessness. AP has more on the continued unrest outside the Superdome.

2:49 PM ET - CNN is reporting that the evacuation of patients from a New Orleans hospital has been halted after rescue workers came under sniper fire.

4:07 PM ET - At a press conference Thursday afternoon, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that the Justice Department is working to ensure that law and order remain in the areas affected by the hurricane. Gonzales also warned that the DOJ will work aggressively to combat fraud and price gouging. Watch recorded video (via C-SPAN) of Gonzales' press conference with Secretary Chertoff and other administration officials.

 

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