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"Unacceptable": The Federal Response to Katrina [View All]

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Sapphire Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-18-05 04:50 PM
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"Unacceptable": The Federal Response to Katrina
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A very short excerpt from a 35-page report...

Special Report
Unacceptable: The Federal Response to Katrina

by Walter M. Brasch
September 12, 2005

EDITORS NOTE: We recommend that our readers print out this incisive special report and read it in print. The author is an award-winning syndicated columnist, professor of journalism, and a former emergency management official. This article is an in-depth look at the Bush policies that created the atmosphere not only for an ineffective FEMA response during the Katrina catastrophe, but which may have contributed to additional property destruction and deaths than should have occurred.



During the 1970s, the Nixon Administration created The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Drinking Water Act. The effect of the laws was to protect the environment, including the wetlands, the areas beside streams, rivers, and lakes that absorb flood waters. When developers begin replacing wetlands with concrete and asphalt, the floodwaters have no place to go but further onto city streets. The Clinton Administration used federal funds to buy land in the flood plains and increased wetland protection, slowing commercial development. However, in January 2003, the Bush Administration eviscerated the Clinton-ordered flood plains protection. The new policy allowed development of about 20 million acres of wetlands.




President Bill Clinton changed FEMAs focus and image, appointing staff with strong experience in disaster operations, and then elevated the agency to cabinet-level status. During the eight-year Clinton Administration, FEMA re-established strong working relationships with local and state agencies, and businesses. President George W. Bushs opinion of FEMA was evident the month he was inaugurated when he appointed Joseph Allbaugh to head the agency. Allbaugh, who had been Bushs chief of staff when he was governor and then ran the 2000 political campaign, had no disaster experience. He brought onto his staff Michael D. Brown to be chief counsel; Brown was soon promoted to deputy director. Brown -- who also had no experience in disaster planning, mitigation, rescue, or recovery -- did have two primary qualifications: he was Allbaughs close friend and a fellow campaign worker who was active in Florida during the disputed 2000 recount. Before being named to FEMA, Brown had spent 11 years as commissioner for judges and stewards of the International Arabian Horse Association. Allbaugh left FEMA after two years to become a lobbyist, often for companies interested in contracts in Iraq. To fill Allbaughs position, Bush appointed Brown to be FEMA director. Shortly after Katrina hit, David Goldstein, editor of the political website,, with some of the information provided by one of his readers, broke the story about Browns previous work with the IAHA, his forced resignation, and his inexperience with natural disasters. The story was picked up by The Daily Kos, a larger website, and then published, often without credit, by the establishment newspapers. As the Katrina disaster continued, other information about Browns lack of experience was brought out. TIME Magazine, with confirmation by sources who had worked with Brown before he came to FEMA, reported that Browns official biography was padded, and that several items were outright lies.




Michael Chertoff told the media in Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Post, that FEMAs response was slow because our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state with the governor. He was wrong. The National Response Plan directs FEMA to prepare for, respond to, and recover an incident or potential incident is of such severity, magnitude, and/or complexity that it is considered an Incident of National Significance. FEMA does not have to wait for local or state officials to request its assistance. That plan also allows the Department of Defense to provide immediate assistance, even if not requested by local authorities. Two days before Katrina hit land, President Bush, upon strong recommendations of the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, which had already issued their own declarations of emergency and requests for federal assistance, had declared a state of emergency, which should have moved FEMA into action.


Writing for The New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Anne E. Kornblut reported that political strategist/deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and communications director Dan Bartlett rolled out a plan . . . to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. That plan included sending Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, all trailed by hordes of media, into the disaster zone. The presence of senior Bush officials drew some of the press away from their reporting about the victims. In Lafayette, La., Laura Bush visited a clean mass care facility for storm victims, and nipped at the press coverage. This doesnt really look like what were seeing on television, she said, possibly hoping the American people would believe that the hopelessness and desperation they saw on television was only a small problem which the media magnified.

Please read the rest @

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