Chris's Rants

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Accountability-free zone

Delay points to local officials - Sep 7, 2005:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House majority leader late Tuesday tried to deflect criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina by saying 'the emergency response system was set up to work from the bottom up,' then announced a short time later that House hearings examining that response had been canceled.
Someone should remind Mr. DeLay that this is not the time for blame-gaming and finger-pointing. I guess in his fantasy world, it only applies to blaming of, and finger-pointing at, federal officials.

Heaven forfend that we should have any accountability. Let's blame the federal cluster-f*** on the local yokels, despite the fact that the entire point of FEMA is to step in when the state and local resources are overwhelmed by events.

State and local governments recognized early on that they would be unable to deal with the disaster on their own and immediately asked for FEMA's assistance (Aug 28th). The FEMA clown-show responded with leaflet passing first responders, who had to first undergo brainwashing orientation for 8 hours 400 miles from the disaster zone instead of being immediately dispatched to help in the rescue and recovery efforts -- the job that they had been trained for and so desperately wanted to do. Some of those first responders were even diverted to serve as PR props for the Emperor with no clothes, because it is far more important that Dipshit look presidential than it is to actually save lives.

From the LA Times, we have this gem:
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged in interviews Sunday that Washington was insufficiently prepared for the hurricane that laid waste to New Orleans and surrounding areas. But he defended its performance by arguing that the size of the storm was beyond anything his department could have anticipated and that primary responsibility for handling emergencies rested with state and local, not federal, officials.

"Before this happened, I said … we need to build a preparedness capacity going forward," Chertoff told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that that was something "we have not yet succeeded in doing."

Under the law, Chertoff said, state and local officials must direct initial emergency operations. "The federal government comes in and supports those officials," he said.

Chertoff's remarks, which echoed earlier statements by President Bush, prompted withering rebukes both from former senior FEMA staffers and outside experts.

"They can't do that," former agency chief of staff Jane Bullock said of Bush administration efforts to shift responsibility away from Washington. "The moment the president declared a federal disaster, it became a federal responsibility…. The federal government took ownership over the response," she said. Bush declared a disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi when the storm hit a week ago.

"What's awe-inspiring here is how many federal officials didn't issue any orders," said Paul C. Light, an authority on government operations at New York University.

Evidence of confusion extended beyond FEMA and the Homeland Security Department on Sunday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said that conditions in New Orleans and elsewhere could quickly escalate into a major public health crisis. But asked whether his agency had dispatched teams in advance of the storm and flooding, Leavitt answered, "No."
Welcome to the accountability-free zone.

Feel safer, yet? Think that these circus clowns are prepared for the Bird-flu? For the next hurricane? (We've only just now entered the height of the hurricane season, as one meteorologist put it; "in the fourth inning of a nine-inning game"). Think again. We are so screwed.

The only saving grace in all of this is that it has exposed these criminals and their morally bankrupt policies for what they are. No amount of PR is going to be able to gloss over the problems we face going forward, nor mask the incompetence and utter failure of the administration to protect us from disaster (whether man-made or natural). DHS is a sham. FEMA is a dumping ground for washed up political hacks. Everyone with two brain-cells to rub together has now seen behind the curtain and they are not happy with what they've seen.


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