GAO Blames Feds for Katrina Response

From Scout:

Knight Ridder reports the GAO will release a sharp report blaming the federal government for the poor Katrina response.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, in a preliminary report to be released Wednesday faulted Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and his designee, former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown, for not filling a crucial “leadership role during Hurricane Katrina.”

That void “serves to underscore the immaturity of and weaknesses relating to the current national response framework,” according to a copy of the report obtained Tuesday evening by Knight Ridder.

While the report says little more than was apparent in the hours after the hurricane damaged, demolished or destroyed long swaths of the coastline, the GAO’s conclusion is striking for its bluntness.

“No one was designated in advance to lead the overall federal response in anticipation of the event despite clear warnings from the National Hurricane Center,” GAO Comptroller General David M. Walker’s prepared remarks read. The speech faults the federal government, saying it “did not act decisively or quickly enough.”


Another major part of the problem was a late and incomplete activation of the new national response plan and a lack of understanding of it, the GAO found.

The report says Chertoff “designated Hurricane Katrina as an incident of national significance on August 30th – the day after final landfall. However, he did not designate the storm as a catastrophic event, which would have triggered additional provisions of the National Response Plan (NRP), calling for a more proactive response. As a result, the federal posture generally was to wait for the affected states to request assistance.”

Knight Ridder first reported the late activation of the plan last September, which Homeland Security officials at first denied. (emphasis mine)

Of course they denied it. It wouldn’t look good for the ‘we’ll keep you safe from the terrorists’ Bush administration to have to admit the Head of Homeland Security screwed the pooch. It was better to limit their liability by publicly releasing one lower level incompetent and stonewall on the higher level incompetent–Chertoff.

Drownie Brownie was forced out for his role in the Katrina debacle. Yet Chertoff, his superior, who was in a position of even greater responsiblity also failed. But he remains in a position in which he can do more harm to Americans. Chertoff deserves the same fate as Brownie. Dems should demand his resignation….. Now.