:: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 ::
Some thoughts on responsibility
I don't doubt there is plenty of blame to go around on Katrina, and that failures occurred on all levels. However, I think the primary blame rests with the federal government, for several reasons:
- First and foremost, the federal government took the lead when they designated the area a national emergency before landfall. That's an absolute admission that state and local resources were insufficient to handle the aftermath, and that federal aid was required. That federal aid took three days before arriving was the problem.
- The local government performed fairly competently -- especially compared to federal efforts. The Mayor of New Orleans convinced most of the city to evacuate and got many of those unable (or unwilling) to evacuate to the ten emergency shelters. He had every right to expect -- given the pre-existing state of emergency -- that his primary duty was ensuring as many citizens as possible survived the storm, and to begin preliminary rescue efforts. In short, his duty was the duration of the storm and the first 24 hours. Whatever mistakes he made -- undoubtedly many -- it appeared the vast majority of NO's citizens survived the storm and that basic law and order was maintained for a good 24 hours after, despite the breach in the levee. Criticism that he bused people to shelters instead of outside the city is unwarranted -- there's no point in busing people if you have no destination.
- The state government performed competently enough. They requested aid from Arizona's National Guard, had Bush declare a state of emergency (despite the White House lies on that later) ahead of time, and for all intents and purposes had everything ready to work under FEMA's coordination. While they too made several mistakes, it appears the efforts they made were severely hampered by FEMA restrictions and their belief that the federal government would respond quickly to such an easily foreseen catastrophe.
In short, the bulk of the blame lies with the Feds. The state and local governments requested -- days ahead of time -- a declaration of emergency. They fully expected -- and rightfully so -- that FEMA, the Guard, and the Army and Navy would arrive as soon as the storm cleared to provide basic services like food, water, medical care, electricity, and shelter for the residents unable to evacuate.
It appears the single biggest mistake made in Louisiana was to expect that federal resources would arrive quickly and competently. They failed to plan for a President who stayed on vacation for two days after his largest port city was wiped off the map, for an executive branch that appeared to be completely on vacation, and for FEMA to spend the first three days preventing any other aid from arriving.
New Orleans managed to evacuate it's citizens, and to get many others to shelters. The bulk of the dying didn't start until several days after Katrina made landfall -- a time period when any competent administration would have had the situation well in hand, instead of focusing on managing the "political impact" of fiddling while Rome burned.
:: Morat 11:42 AM :: ::
Bush Says He'll Find Out What Went Wrong
I believe this is known as "Pulling an OJ":
Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why -- in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack. You know, this could start a real trend. Why not let corrupt officials investigate themselves? It'd save so much money, and I can guarantee government would be scandal free.
In the meantime, we'll assign Rove to lead the Plame investigation, and let Cheney handle the overcharging (and poor work) done by Hallibruton in Iraq. I'm sure the truth will come out, right?
:: Morat 10:06 AM :: ::