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Was Jindal's Katrina Story Accurate?

In his much-criticized response to President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told a story about an interaction he had with Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish, who died in 2007. Here's what he said:
During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I'd never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: 'Well, I'm the Sheriff and if you don't like it you can come and arrest me!' I asked him: 'Sheriff, what's got you so mad?' He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters.

The boats were all lined up ready to go - when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn't go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, 'Sheriff, that's ridiculous.' And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: 'Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!' Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

The story quickly drew scrutiny from liberal sites like TPMMuckracker, which questioned its accuracy.

Lee, the site pointed out, told CNN he didn't know about the bureaucratic issue detailed in the story until a week after it took place. A Daily Kos diarist, meanwhile, noted that the evidence suggested Jindal was not in the area to interact with Lee at that time.

Following the questions, Jindal's office responded to Politico's Ben Smith. A spokeswoman told him that the conversation, as Smith puts it, "actually took place some days later in Lee's office -- though still in Katrina's chaotic aftermath -- as Lee was 'recounting' his frustrations with the bureaucracy to someone else on the telephone."

Jindal's chief of staff said that claim is not inconsistent with Jindal's original story – and called the questions about its accuracy "liberal blogger B.S." Decide for yourself.

Video of Jindal telling the story, via TPM, is here. You can watch the entire speech here.

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