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Many Lapses in Katrina Response


DP Veteran
Jul 31, 2005
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WASHINGTON - A chastised
Homeland Security Director
Michael Chertoff sparred with senators of both parties on Wednesday as he acknowledged "many lapses" in his agency's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Chertoff told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that he would do things differently if he had the chance. One thing he would not do: give overall responsibility for the relief effort to Michael Brown, who was director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency at the time.

Brown, who resigned under pressure shortly after the Aug. 29 storm devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast, has accused Chertoff and White House officials of ignoring his warnings on the day of the storm.

"It is completely correct to say that our logistics capability in Katrina was woefully inadequate. I was astonished to see we didn't have the capability most 21st century corporations have to track the flow of goods and services," Chertoff said, promising remedies by the start of the 2006 hurricane season in June.
Why didn't these "remedies" start after 9/11? Wasn't the whole point of DHS to streamline the process and help these agencies react better?
Chertoff testified as a separate House investigation concluded that thousands of Katrina's victims could have been spared through better planning and faster action.

The House inquiry titled "A Failure of Initiative" concluded that much death and suffering could have been avoided if the government had heeded lessons from the 2001 terror attacks and taken a more hands-on stance toward disaster preparedness.

The House investigative report said that, from
President Bush down to local officials, government agencies did little other than react to the catastrophic storm after the fact — even when faced with early warnings about its deadly potential.

"The preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina should disturb all Americans," said the 520-page report, written by a Republican-dominated special committee chaired by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., and obtained Tuesday night by The Associated Press.
The administration likes to claim they are the only ones that can keep us safe after 9/11, but it would appear that claim is total bs. No terrorist is going to give us a couple day head start to prepare and even if they did we apparently still couldn't deal with it.

Blanco and Nagin who had the same advance warning also failed miserably to react. 56 hours of advance warning and they waited until there was only 19 hours till landfall to evacuate the areas.
Under Chertoff's oversight, disaster workers "ran around like Keystone cops, uncertain about what they were supposed to do or uncertain how to do it," Lieberman said.

Chertoff disputed Brown's testimony earlier this month that he had notified White House and Homeland Security officials on the day of the storm that levees had failed and New Orleans was flooding.

Instead, Chertoff reiterated earlier statements that he did not realize that levees had been breached until the next day.

"When I went to bed, it was my belief ... that actually the storm had not done the worst that could be imagined," Chertoff said.

Collins told Chertoff "I remain perplexed" about his decision to designate Brown, who as FEMA director had expressed skepticism about being put under the DHS wing, as point man on coordinating the Katrina response.

Chertoff said there was "no reason to doubt his commitment" at the time.

"If I knew then what I know now about Mr. Brown's agenda, I would have done something different," Chertoff added.
What agenda did Mr. Brown have I wonder.

WASHINGTON - After accepting responsibility for the government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House is now striking back at critics who administration officials say are unfairly blaming
President Bush.

White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend said Monday the administration welcomes and will cooperate with congressional inquiries into Katrina and its aftermath.

"But let's be clear about the facts," she said. "As you know, President Bush was highly engaged in the preparation and response effort, beginning when Katrina was a tropical storm off the coast of Florida."
So we have one claim that Bush was "highly engaged" in the response effort.

At issue is a House report, set for release Wednesday, that has concluded Bush was not fully advised of the scope of the damage caused by the Aug. 29 storm.

"The White House was clearly in a fog," said Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record), R-Conn., a member of the committee that produced the report. "The president was clearly misinformed."

We have the House Reports claim that Bush didn't have much of a clue about what was happening.

Shays criticized the
Homeland Security Department, which oversees FEMA, the nation's disaster-relief agency. "We wanted the department to be an asset to help FEMA, and instead it stood and watched it fail," Shays said. Homeland Security Secretary
Michael Chertoff "was totally detached," Shays said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
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