Initially the pathetic Katrina response focused on the role of Michael Brown and more recently Michael Chertoff but what of Donald Rumsfeld?
Under the National Response Plan as head of DoD Rumsfeld’s role should have been …..
Initial requests for assistance are made to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Executive Secretariat. If approved by the Secretary of Defense, DOD designates a supported combatant commander for the response. The supported combatant commander determines the appropriate level of command and control for each response and usually directs a senior military officer to deploy to the incident site.
But in the initial days of Katrina, Rumsfeld appeared as engaged as guitar playing Bush in San Diego, Cheney fishing in Wyoming or Chertoff speaking on avian flu in Atlanta. Where was Rumsfeld? On Monday August 29 he was in St. Louis speaking to a group of conservationists. There was no mention of Katrina though ironically he closed his speech with….
With new partnerships, the Department of Defense is seeking to fulfill a mission that is as old as the military. In the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt, and on the order of our Commander and Chief, George W. Bush, the United States Armed Forces can and will continue to work to protect America — both our lands, as well as our fellow citizens.
He then went on to Fort Irwin California to speak to the troops…..
On Tuesday August 30 Rumsfeld was in San Diego with Bush. No evidence he jammed with the guitar playing Bush though.
So who was minding the shop? According to Sen. Lieberman’s press release of Feb. 9 entitled “MILITARY ROLE IN KATRINA RESPONSE SEEMED COBBLED TOGETHER”………
On Tuesday of Katrina’s week one, the military recognized that the rescue of the Gulf Coast was uncertain and foundering under the administration of the Department of Homeland Security. We are especially indebted to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, who, because he was watching Katrina’s impact on television, concluded that troops and equipment needed to be deployed immediately without the normal paperwork.
So the Deputy Secretary of Defense kicked-started the military response. Under the NRP this is allowed……
Imminently serious conditions resulting from any civil emergency may require immediate action to save lives, prevent human suffering, or mitigate property damage. When such conditions exist and time does not permit approval from higher headquarters, local military commanders and responsible officials from DOD components and agencies are authorized by DOD directive and pre-approval by the Secretary of Defense, subject to any supplemental direction that may be provided by their DOD component, to take necessary action to respond to requests of civil authorities consistent with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. § 1385). All such necessary action is referred to as “Immediate Response.”
And undoubtably Rumsfeld’s defense will be that a pre-approved DoD directive existed so hey it got done eventually. Thiis isn’t exactly the ‘plan ahead’ bunch (*cough Iraq*) However it appears the Senate committee investigating Katrina is taking a look at Rumsfeld as they subpoenaed his communications last December…..….
The subpoena commands Rumsfeld to produce internal records and communications about the Pentagon’s response to the Aug. 29 storm, including efforts to send supplies to victims, stabilize public safety and mobilize active duty forces along the Gulf Coast. It requires the Pentagon to deliver the documents, spanning from Aug. 23 to Sept. 15, from Rumsfeld and eight other top military officials by Dec. 30.
The Senate committee will be releasing its report at the end of March and I guess we’ll see if Rumsfeld’s name comes up. I’m not holding my breath but Rummy’s name belongs on the Wall of Shame with all the others in the Bush administration who didn’t give a damn.