UPDATED: FEMA media blackout?
UPDATE: See Media Blackout II.
A picture is starting to emerge... but don't quote me. This is 1-2-3 speculatory mumbo jumbo, not crack investigative journalism, but...
So first, as reported by Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, the NOLA communications lines were cut by FEMA without explanation or warning. He was forced to post guards to ensure that it wouldn't happen again (does anyone doubt that those guards could've been useful elsewhere?).
Then you have an internal FEMA/Homeland Security memo that, in addition to requesting extra personnel to be casually deployed -- within 48 hours or so and then some more in a week or so... -- also specified that one of the tasks for those personnel would be information management: "Convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public." (Note: all on its own this directive is probably fine. It could be argued that a hopeful outlook is helpful. It's when it's combined with massive negligence and the other pieces in this puzzle that you begin to think that this should've been the main job description...)
And then you have the final piece: The LA Times is reporting that: "The U.S. agency leading Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts said Tuesday that it does not want the news media to photograph the dead as they are recovered."
Can you say Iraq War?