When have we heard this before?

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There has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have the responsibility to do.

The Bush administration is stonewalling the Congress.

We have been trying–without success–to obtain Secretary Rumsfeld’s cooperation for months.

Though these statements sound like statements made during the September 11 Commission’s failed attempt to get the administration to cooperate with its investigation, they are, rather, statements recently made about the administration’s failure to cooperate with two Congressional committees investigating the response to Hurricane Katrina.

As before, the White House is citing executive branch confidentiality in refusing to turn over requested documents. These documents include Katrina-related emails and other communications among White House staff members. The administration has also refused requests for testimony from White House chief of staff Andrew H. Carrd Jr., deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, domestic security advisor Frances Fragos Townsend, and her deputy, Ken Rapuano.

Senator Susan Collins, says it is “completely inappropriate” that that witnesses “have told us when we begin to ask about any communications with the White House” that they cannot respond, even if the discussions are not related to specific advice given to the Bush that could “legitimately” be held back under executive privilege.

The White House, for its part–and we’ve heard this before, too–maintains that it is thoroughly cooperating with the investigation and has handed over thousands of documents, as well as providing multiple witnesses.

In the early morning hours of August 29, a memo was sent from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House situation room which warned of a possible breach of levees in New Orleans and a resulting crisis. A few days later, Bush said: “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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