Jindal inexplicably resists Guard deployment to Gulf Coast

JINDAL INEXPLICABLY RESISTS GUARD DEPLOYMENT TO GULF COAST…. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) criticism of the federal government has been loud and frequent as the BP oil spill crisis intensified, but CBS News ran a very damaging piece last night, noting that Jindal has the authority to dispatch thousands of National Guard troops to the coast to help with the response, but has chosen not to. (via Jed Lewison)

The video is well worth watching — it’s only two-and-a-half minutes long — in part because Jindal’s decisions have been so inexplicable. The governor asked President Obama two months ago to authorize the use of 6,000 National Guard troops for the disaster, and the president immediately agreed. Jindal, however, only deployed 1,053 — less than a fifth.

When CBS asked why, Jindal said he’s forbidden from deploying more because it’s up to “the Coast Guard and BP” to “authorize individual tasks.”

In reality, Jindal is either deeply confused about something he should understand, or he was lying. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said unequivocally that there is “nothing standing in the governor’s way from utilizing more National Guard troops.”

Indeed, before the CBS report aired, the governor’s office conceded that Jindal has not asked for more Guard troops to be deployed to the coast to help with the response to the spill. The report did not offer an explanation.

This is potentially a huge revelation. President Obama, in his Oval Office address, specifically and publicly urged the regional governors “to activate these troops as soon as possible. ” Jindal seems to have specifically chosen not to, can’t justify the decision, and is telling falsehoods when asked about his decision, shifting the burden of responsibility dramatically.

Put it this way: imagine if Obama had the authority to send troops to help with the response to the spill, but for no apparent reason, declined to issue the order for more than two months. Do you suppose there’d be some political blowback?

As Jed added, Jindal has “argued that the federal government has denied him the resources he needs to fight the spill, but even though he’s had thousands of National Guardsmen at his disposal, he’s only used a tiny fraction of them, allowing more than 80% of the resources at his disposal to go unused.”

Jindal has some explaining to do.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.