Monday, September 05, 2005

Why the federal delay

Excerpt:
Washington, too, was slow to react to the crisis. The Pentagon, under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was reluctant for the military to take a lead role in disaster relief, a job traditionally performed by FEMA and by the National Guard, which is commanded by state governors. President Bush could have "federalized" the National Guard in an instant. That's what his father, President George H.W. Bush, did after the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Back then, the Justice Department sent Robert Mueller, a jut-jawed ex-Marine (who is now FBI director), to take charge, showing, in effect, that the cavalry had arrived. FEMA's current head, Michael Brown, has appeared over his head and even a little clueless in news interviews.
Up to now, the Bush administration has not hesitated to sweep aside the opinions of lawyers on such matters as prisoners' rights. But after Katrina, a strange paralysis set in. For days, Bush's top advisers argued over legal niceties about who was in charge, according to three White House officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Beginning early in the week, Justice Department lawyers presented arguments for federalizing the Guard, but Defense Department lawyers fretted about untrained 19-year-olds trying to enforce local laws, according to a senior law-enforcement official who requested anonymity citing the delicate nature of the discussions.

While Washington debated, the situation in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast deteriorated. Bush traveled to the region in part to work out a deal with local officials to establish a clearer chain of command. By the weekend, federal officials said there could be tens of thousands of troops in New Orleans in short order. Saturday, Bush pledged to return to the region on Monday—and to deploy 7,000 additional active-duty troops under the Pentagon's control. But for many, the help was arriving too late. Officials worked through the weekend trying to hammer out the jurisdictional issues.


Article also shows that the first official rescuers had to ask permission from Pentagon which took over a day. Excerpt:
On Monday morning, as the storm slammed into the Gulf Coast, Col. Tim Tarchick of the 920th Rescue Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, got on the phone to call every agency he could think of to ask permission to take his three rescue helicopters into the disaster zone as soon as the storm abated. The response was noncommittal. FEMA, the federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters, told Tarchick that it wasn't authorized to task military units. That had to come from the Defense Department. Tarchick wasn't able to cut through the red tape until 4 p.m. Tuesday—more than 24 hours after the storm had passed. His crews plucked hundreds of people off rooftops, but when they delivered them to an assigned landing zone, there was "total chaos. No food, no water, no bathrooms, no nothing." There was "no structure, no organization, no command center," Tarchick told NEWSWEEK.

Yes, but once out of the floods most survived. Also it still doesn't explain the real reason why. Like they Bush people refused to actually explain why they didn't get bin Laden at Tora Bora. As we found out later, those who ascribed nefarious reasons for that misdeed turned out to be right.

Maybe the Bush people didn't want the fault when rescue efforts failed to stop a massive death count. Hey, it worked in Texas for Bush. After a similar inability to stop death counts when the Guadelupe River flooded and killed a number of poor people, Governor Bush went around and hugged some of the survivors. He even boasted about it in the 2000 campaign debates "That's what governors do. They hug people who've lost their loved ones." (paraphrased)
The Lost City

Apparently the less that Bush does the more he's been praised for it. Notice the lack of accountability after 9/11. I hate to be a nay sayer, but, if we want to live, we really have to stop being nice to those who fail in our government.

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