Michael Chertoff spoke yesterday on “Protecting the Homeland: Meeting Challenges and Looking Forward” (egaads forward is everywhere). The AP story on this opened with…
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff delivered a backhanded slap Thursday at one of his agencies, saying it should not allow red tape to interfere with helping disaster victims. (emphasis mine)
That agency was FEMA. He talked of what they have supposedly done to retool FEMA (better partnering with DoD) and then said this…
And we’ve got to do a much better job, frankly, of how we manage the process of recovery. We still have tens of thousands of people who suffer the lingering effects of Katrina. And as the city of New Orleans and as the state of Mississippi and the state of Louisiana try to recover and rebuild in what is a mammoth task, we have to make sure that FEMA does not become so enmeshed in its own bureaucratic processes sometimes that they lose sight of the need to have simple common sense and humanity in dealing with the public. So we’re going to have to continue to crack down and make sure we get this job done.
Can someone please give Chertoff an organization chart for DHS so we can remind Michael that FEMA is that little box below YOU. Perhaps you should crack down on yourself Mr. Secretary. I have to admit I have some sympathy for the grunts at FEMA. They are poorly led and continually abused, now even by Chertoff. What’s worse however is they are completely misplaced. It is stark and clear that the agency does not belong in DHS.
If you go and read the entire speech you’ll see that Chertoff continues to see the role of DHS as fighting the terrorist threat. The goals he laid out all relate to that end. I suspect that dealing with natural disasters (or man made floods) is nothing more than a nuisance to Chertoff even though there were 50 federal major disaster declarations in 2006 in 33 states. And 2006 was not unique. The average for disaster declarations for the last 10 years is 52 so disasters are a constant risk to many Americans and the need for response is ever present. But under Chertoff’s leadership and DHS structure, FEMA will continue to fail us. FEMA should be removed from DHS now.
Unfortunately even with a Democratic Congress it stands little chance of happening as Holy Joe Lieberman will now chair the Committee on Homeland Security. It was Joe who was primarily responsible for folding FEMA into DHS. I question if Chertoff would put up much of a fight to remove the inessential and burdensome FEMA from his kingdom and I do not know what Bush would do in that regard. I do know Joey would oppose it. (see here) He wouldn’t make the recommendation in the Senate’s Katrina report. No, in what has to be one of the best examples in Washington of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, these num nuts recommended changing the name of FEMA. Heaven forbid Joe admits what was a terrible mistake on his part.
So no. FEMA is unfortunately stuck in Joe’s craw.
But let it not be said I only write of problems and never come up with solutions because I do have one.
We need to get this guy…
…to pull FEMA from Joe’s craw.
When I first heard the story of the Chinese taking a risk with an elegant plan of getting the world’s tallest man with of course really long arms to pull objects from the stomachs of sick and depressed dolphins, I thought this would never happen in present day Washington. No we’d study it, form a program, bid or more likely no bid contracts and focus group the name of the initiative. Can’t call it Save the Dying Dolphins… No think pleasant (and neo-con)…Global Leadership in Accessing Dolphin Stomachs…GLADS! And while we twiddled away with talking points on our quest for empire in bringing freedom to the dolphins from evil obstructions, well the dolphins would ya know…die. But we’d be ready next time…we think. Well at least there would be some porky contracts.
I wonder how far down those arms can reach into Joe? Or should we try up?