Hurricane Katrina and the Bush Assministration’s response to the disaster usually fall into the domain of our newest First Drafter, Scout. But after reading this article, especially Scottie-wannabe Dana Perino’s statement in bold at the end of the excerpt, I just had to post it myself.
Responsibility for the government’s bungled response to Hurricane Katrina extends widely but begins at the top of the Bush administration, which failed before the storm to name a White House, homeland security or other senior aide in command of the looming disaster, congressional investigators reported Wednesday.
Four years after the Sept. 11, attacks, administration officials did not establish a clear chain of command for the domestic emergency; disregarded early warnings of a Category 5 hurricane inundating New Orleans and southeast Louisiana; and did not ensure that cities and states had adequate plans and training before the Aug. 29 storm, according to the Government Accountability Office.
“A single individual — directly responsible and accountable to the president of the United States — should be dedicated to act as the central focal point to lead and coordinate the overall federal response,” GAO chief David Walker said, summarizing preliminary findings from 30 pending Katrina-related studies.
The blistering report represents the first official findings on the government’s performance in Katrina. It is the first of a series of reviews in coming weeks that are expected to fix blame and refocus scrutiny on the administration’s handling of the nation’s costliest natural disaster, which killed 1,307 people and caused more than $150 billion in damage along the Gulf Coast.
Bush aides, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and designees such as former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Mike Brown failed to take leadership role during the hurricane, Walker said, underscoring “the immaturity of and weaknesses” of national preparations for terrorism and disaster.
Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who asked Walker to report to a House investigation whose work is due Feb. 15, said Bush aides from Vice President Dick Cheney to Chief of Staff Andrew Card to Homeland Security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend “were just not prepared for a storm of this magnitude.
“The director … of the National Hurricane Center said this was the big one,” Davis said, but “when this happened … Bush is in Texas. Card is in Maine. The vice president is fly-fishing. I mean, who’s in charge here?”
“The Homeland Security Department and the rest of the government, meaning not the White House, were the ones in the lead for operations,” [White House spokeswoman Dana] Perino said. </b