Let me restate my position, having thought about it further

With a Homeland Security department of 180,000 employees and a $40 billion budget, the five day delay in the federal response to Katrina, during which Americans died for lack of a 90-cent bottle of water , was, is, and remains near-criminal.


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  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    The governments should do a thorough analysis, step by step, and see what happened, what didn’t happen, why, how and who.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Barnie, if you want to jump back into this topic, I would suggest that you broaden your inquiry beyond the federal government. We should talk also about the criminal culpability of the New Orleans authorities for mucking things up so badly before the Feds arrived, and the Louisiana state authorities for botching relief so badly as well. Let’s talk about the 200 New Orleans city school buses sitting unused, in two feet of water, rather than being used to evacuate citizens. Let’s talk about allowing tens of thousands of residents to accumulate in the super dome, rather than getting them out of the city. Let’s talk about emptying the city jails of criminals instead of removing them to secure facilities. Let’s talk about the failur to post guards at Wal-Marts and other outlets where looters could acquire guns and ammo. Let’s talk about a police department with such terrible morale that policement began deserting their posts. If you want to assigning blame, you cannot overlook the contribution to this fiasco of one of the most corrupt city administrations since Tammany Hall.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    So, with the Federal govrnment finally ramped up and aid pouring in at incredible rates, dramatic rescues, functioning shelters, etc. etc., we’re going back to the blame game. What good is this post? It doesn’t offer any recommendations for now or in the future. What should we do? Fire the fema guy? Replace him with who? Will his scalp help anybody? I’d rather have him working his butt off for a few more months before he gets canned. I sure as hell don’t know why nobody could get any water to the Superdome and that’s a terrible, terrible shortcoming of this relief effort, but dwelling on it now doesn’t quench the thirst of one refugee. I saw this on instapundit–Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana’s failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. “Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level,” said one state official who works with FEMA. ‘Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no.” Maybe 72-96 hours is a bad response time, but it was in the plan.

  4. Barnie Day Avatar

    Of course you are right, Jim, and Anon, too, for that matter. The failure was top to bottom–no question. But, come on, the real failure was federal–just as 9/11 was. You don’t hold the Port Authority or the NYPD responsible for that do you? The state of New York? No, I don’t think so. I continue to be surprised by the unwillingness here to hold people and goverment to account. Accountability is not un-American. At least to my mind it isn’t.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    A lot of the blame does rest in FEMA. The Loudon Times newspaper has a story about a rescue squad that had to be called back because of a FEMA paperwork foul-up. What about the empty, but completely stocked Navy hospital ship that followed Katrina in and then sat there for days because FEMA couldn’t figure out what to do with it? I’m sure there were local screwups as well, but FEMA is tasked with the job of handling huge disasters. And W hired a guy to head it who had a proven negative track record and no experience. True, a bunch of cops walked off the job — but the great majority, from what I read, busted their tails. I think W’s defenders here would be singing a different tune if this happened in northern VA. Sometimes, guys, you have to admit you voted for the wrong person. I admitted it after Carter — I voted for Reagan twice. I wonder how soon W will get to Nixon’s last job performance ratings.

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Barnie, I absolutely believe in holding government accountable. I also believe in ascertaining the facts before holding someone accountable. It sounds to me that you’ve already tried and convicted FEMA, the FEMA director, and George W.

    I agree that the buck stops with Dunya, that if FEMA screwed up, Dubya must take the rap for it. I also have numerous questions about FEMA’s performance. There was a story in the newspaper this morning about a two-trailer, mobile surgical lab stationed in Chapel Hill, N.C. — funded under some Homeland Security program, no less — that zoomed down to the disaster zone and then sat around and waited… and waited… for FEMA to send victims for the surgeons to work on. Anonymous 7:08 mentions the Navy hospital ship in a similar predicament. Maybe there was incompetence involved. Maybe there was an excessive devotion to rules and regulations. Maybe there was no plan.

    Or, maybe, with telephone lines down, cell phones down, electricity down, cable out, state, local and federal emergency organizations using incompatible communications systems, hospitals being evacuated, hundreds of thousands of people displaced and a state of chaos reigning… maybe the situation was so fluid that no one at FEMA or anywhere else had enough information immediately upon arriving on the scene to (a) locate and identify the sick people, (b) triage them and decide who should be sent where, (c) transport them to the appropriate mobile surgical facilities and hospital ships that materialized.

    I just don’t know enough to know whether criticism is warranted. Evidence may surface to suggest that FEMA totally screwed the pooch — but I haven’t seen it yet, and you haven’t presented any.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Former President Clinton said there should be hearings and accountability but now wasn’t the time. I think I’ll cast my lot with him right now, not Barnie. Clinton has seen a lot of suffering and disaster recently and I think he’s probably got a good idea of priorities right now.

  8. Dave Burgess Avatar
    Dave Burgess

    That is what ‘m talking about. Thank you Jim. We do not have enough information to judge.

    We can have theories, true. However, who is to blame will take months, maybe a year or so to decide. However, if Barnie is bond and determine to fashion a noose, I will say I heard Louisiana Senator Johnson, a Democrat, on the Today Show this morning say things started to get better once President Bush showed up on the scene. Thank God the President did jump in!

    If you demand an early call to judgment, I would have to start with the Jim’s questions about local officials. Barnie, if you already did not know, the federal government ONLY gets involved AFTER a state request. Notice that Democrat Senator Johnson said that thinks did not really happen until after Bush was involved. Why was the federal response so mess-up in the beginning? My early call is because information from state officials were so screwed up that the feds did not know how to react. The department of Homeland Security and FEMA do not run state disaster agencies.

    I predict, when the smoke is cleared, the buck will eventually stop at the Governor of Louisiana’s deck. On the federal level, I would not be a bit surprise if FEMA’s head, Michael Brown, were shown the door in the months to come.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    There’s been a lot of disinformation after the fact by people scrambling to protect their careers (if only aid responses were as coordinated as media responses! The federal deployment of anonymous sources, talking heads, and coordination of message was awe-inspiring!), but you just can’t avoid the reality here.

    We lived through 9/11: a disaster in many ways smaller in its scope but far more traumatic to American pride and security. We were told over and over that our leaders were the ones to trust on national security. That they were rethinking everything, that in the face of a major threat, we would be organized and streamlined and proactive. But it really doesn’t matter whether NOLA was hit by a hurricane or a terrorist bomb. The results and failures and just plain tactical ignorance of the situation went far far beyond “disasters are bound to be chaotic” excuses. Top to bottom, federal to local, what we saw just was not acceptable in the least. I feel like we spent the last 4 years completely wasting our time: if anything, things seemed MORE coordinated after 9/11. The state and local levels were indeed a mess. But like it or not, our federal leadership is where this points at: their job is to make things happen even when the locals fail or are overwhelmed, and they are the ones we look to in events that rise far beyond state borders and affect us on a national level.

    Michael Brown should never have been put in charge of FEMA. Political cronies and nepotism are part and parcel of democracy, but that’s just pathetic. And no one from Bush on down should be excused for speaking falsehoods like “no one thought the levees would fail” to the American people. I understand the partisan drive to excuse our leaders. But let’s remember that they will only improve if they have to face real criticism, as opposed to constant, loving stroking and protection.

  10. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Like I said, let the governments do the homework. Then assign blame and take action.

    Great piece in Atlantic this year, don’t remember the month on 9-11 describing how city officials in NYC starting getting things moving way beyond their legal authority top contract (ex post facto contracts are illegal) telling certain providers of energy, lights, machinery where to go and what to start to do. Fascinating. Didn’t happen in New Orleans.

    Finding the truth isn’t defending Bush. The Founding Fathers expected our government was only fit for an eduacated and fair populace. Let’s be both. Then demand accountability as the chips fall.

  11. Barnie Day Avatar

    “Across the government there were failures of imagination, policies, capabilities, and management. The most important failure was one of imagination.” The 637-page 9/11 report.

    I don’t mean to rush things here–first things first–and all that–but FOUR YEARS after the fact, will someone please tell me who has been held accountable for these failures? Who was fired? Who was demoted? Who was disciplined?

    Sure, we will get another commission, another report, on this one. What I’d rather have is some track record of accountability. There is none. I guess it is a market thing–no demand for it.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Finding the truth doesn’t involve participating in a media blitz to obscure and lie about the truth either. But that’s precisely what’s going on: there’s already a war to assign and deflect blame. We have vast tax-payer funded media resources being deployed to reporters starving for soundbytes already. I’d rather have the people do the homework rather than the politicians or lazy reporters that never bother to check whether what their sources tell them is actually true.

  13. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Barnie, No argument on accountability at the right time. I am all for heads on stakes (Black Beard in Hampton) and drawing and quartering with parts sent to each end of the realm (William Wallace in England) to, as the French say “pour encourager les autres”, have an object lesson.

    I think the 9-11 commission is not a good example. Flawed membership and agenda.

    Were the commissions that demoted Kimmel and Short after Pearl Harbor off base? Dunno.

    Best,

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0509040369sep04,1,4144825.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

    This is the URL for the 9/4 Chicago Trib story on the unused hospital ship; it’s the USS Bataan if somehow the URL doesn’t work and you need to Google the story up.

  15. TheModerate Avatar
    TheModerate

    For whatever reason, “with telephone lines down, cell phones down, electricity down, cable out, state, local and federal emergency organizations using incompatible communications systems, hospitals being evacuated, hundreds of thousands of people displaced and a state of chaos reigning”, the situation up to this point lacks a true leader. That certain someone the public always turns to and places his or her faith in to get the job done has not yet come to the front.

    9/11 had Rudy and the President; the English had Churchill and the first Gulf War had Schwarzkopf. In time, someone will rise above the rest and lead us out of this disaster.

    To think we will be able to BLAME someone or something for what happened or didn’t happen is foolish.

    However, we can and should be angry at people in positions of leadership who ultimately fail to lead. This includes everyone, local, state, and federal.

  16. Being anonymous, trying to claim a track record or extensive knowledge is futile. However, it’s Mr. Day making the claim “come on, the real failure was federal“, so it’s his burden, not mine.

    Prior to Katrina, how rapidly does FEMA arrive at disasters?

    FEMA made its first transition from nuclear-bomb protection to disaster relief. The ‘relief’ consisted of the same ‘relief’ that State Farm or Allstate offers: money for damages. One is federal money; the others are private.

    Under Witt, the agency made an astounding transformation from surly, obstructionist money dispensers to glib, congenial money dispensers. Response (time and actions) remained the same, but facial expressions changed.

    Now FEMA’s (supposedly) making the transition from money dispensers; to money dispensers plus primary federal first responder. Note that their title hasn’t been changed to ‘Response’ or ‘Rescue’, it’s ‘Management’.

    Nevertheless, to keep it constructive we’re owed two things:
    The metric on which FEMA’s to be judged by. Not “people died” rhetoric. Concrete data: how many responders with what equipment in how many hours.
    The cost of the system that does what Mr. Day wants done.
    I can’t recall if he quit the GA before or after financial impact requirement on bills, but it’s an important consideration. A few aspects of costs-v-response are posted here.

  17. NOVA Scout Avatar

    In the disappearing thread I asked more than once whether anyone had a strong, reasoned view that the response would have been qualitatively or quantitatively different if Katrina had hit the same area in 1999 (or 1964, or 1949). I’m still waiting to hear about this. If no one can tell me “you betcha, NoVA, things would have been a helluva lot better in any of those years because [fill in the blank], then I’m inclined to do on thinking that the shortcomings here had nothing to do with partisan politics and had a lot to do with a huge storm that resulted in massive flooding that stymied all rational contingency planning. In this country, natural disaster response is layered from the local level to state to federal levels. Whatever the concerns about how we are meeting the needs of our fellow citizens, I think very little has to do with whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House (or the individual identity of that particular Republican or Democrat). The issue is how much power we want to give the feds to take the whip hand in these emergencies from the get-go. How ready are we to tell the localities and the states to buzz off. If we really are at a point where we decide as a polity to federalize these events from the beginning, let’s do it and place full blame on the federal government when things aren’ up to snuff. If we want to have local governments as the first responders, then they have to be willing to accept responsibility for failure also. I have no doubt that lessons will be learned from this for all levels of government, but I am a bit put off by political sping of an enormous natural disaster that tries to hang things around the neck of the current Administration. To be fair, I suspect that the Clinton folks would have done no better (although their spin effort might have been a bit more elaborate). Even though I had little use for those folks, I would have siad the same thing I’m saying now – this was just one humongous storm in a very vulnerable region that is neither worse nor better because of political considerations.

  18. “how many responders with what equipment in how many hours.”

    Thank you, subpatre. That may be the most cogent thought in this thread.

    Metrics.

  19. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Missing from most of this discussion is the elephant in the corner of the room: FEMA is not the first responder. The state and local governments are the first responders. FEMA comes in later.

    This comes from a column by Craig Martelle, retired U.S. Marine major who received FEMA training: “The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands to the state level. … Addressing all foreseeable contingencies is the absolute requirement of the local government — and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers…” FEMA is not actively engaged in the process.

    Before Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans claimed primacy in planning and coordinating emergency response: “We coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies which respond to citywide disasters and emergencies through the development and constant updating of an integrated multi-hazard plan. All requests for federal disaster assistance and federal funding subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office.”

    As it turns out, the New Orleans plan was woefully inadequate, and the Louisiana state officials weren’t much help. As Martelle concludes, “The failure in the first 48 hours to provide direction for survivors is theirs to live with. When FEMA was able to take over, it started behind and had to develop its plan on the fly. Now the federal government has established priorities — rescue the stranded, evacuate the city, flow in resources and fix the levee. It appears there is a plan and it is being systematically executed.

    Is Martelle’s description a fair and unbiased representation of the truth? I don’t know. But it is a different version than the one being peddled by the Blame-Bush-First crowd. At the very least it reaises critical questions: Is FEMA the first responder, or is state/local government? Does FEMA develop the emergency response plan, or does state/local government?

    If state/local government catastrophically failed in Louisiana, that failure would not have been immediately apparent. It would have taken a day or two for the federal government to recognize that the situation was out of control and then seize control of the situation. That explains the delay in the federal response. If this interpretation is correct — and I’m honest enough to say that I don’t have enough reliable information at this point to assert that it is — what we’re hearing from critics like Barnie is an after-the-fact raising of FEMA’s standard of performance. Barnie and allies are saying that FEMA, even before knowing that Louisiana state/local government had totally botched the emergency response, should have overridden all state-federal protocols and taken control anyway…. an act for which Barnie & Co. then would have promptly crucified Bush as politicizing the disaster or power grabbing or some other such nonsense.

  20. Jim Bacon Avatar

    From a Sept. 5 CNN: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien how President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco met to discuss the situation.

    NAGIN: The president … called me in the office after that. And he said, “Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor.” I said — and I don’t remember exactly what. There were two options. I was ready to move today. The governor said she neded 24 hours to make a decision.

    S. O’BRIEN: You’re telling me the president tole you the governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?

    NAGIN: Yes.

    S. O’BRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?

    NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. … I was [advocating] a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.

    S O’BRIEN: And the governor said no.

    NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision.

  21. Thank you Barnie. You got it right. Everything else is BS!

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    Maybe we need the system, ahem, that Fidel has in place. When Ivan hit Cuba (a glancing blow but still a very powerful storm) no one died, according to an MSNBC story: “The Cuban way could easily be applied to other countries with similar economic conditions, and even in countries with greater resources that do not manage to protect their population as well as Cuba does,” Salvano Briceno, director of the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, said in Geneva.

    In 1998, only four people died during Hurricane Georges, while 600 died elsewhere. This year, Hurricane Charley killed four people in Cuba, but 27 in Florida.”

    Apparently the secret is that the entire government is mobilized before the storm. “What is Cuban President Fidel Castro’s secret? According to Dr. Nelson
    >Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and
    >specialist in Latin America, “the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to go.”
    >
    >”Cuba’s leaders go on TV and take charge,” said Valdes.

  23. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    The secret in Cuba is those poor slobs got nothing to lose and like most folks who live in the tropics they know where not to build (unlike rich, dumb Americans who expect the government and the insurance industry to save them.) The City of New Orleans is below sea level! This was INEVITABLE. People build major mansions and put FLOATING casinos in the path of a future storm surge? This was INEVITABLE. The only thing truly infinite in this universe is stupidity. Why blame FEMA for carrying on the human condition?

    This thread is just as disappointing and worthless an exercise as it was last week, and meaningless since the political fall out, if any, is more than a year away (2006 Mid Terms).

    Lots of time for assessment and finger pointing. I suspect that a big part of the problem is that the usual effort is just getting swallowed in the immensity of this area involved — everybody plans for the last war — and too damn many people are asking the government for permission rather than just doing it. We’re going to take lessons from Fidel Castro? Sure, and Benito M. had the trains running on time.

    Wait until the Big One hits in California. This was a hiccup in comparison.

  24. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Steve Haner: Just a sidebar to your old saw on ‘planning for the last war’. My day job is to plan for the next war. So, it may be true enough to be cliche, as all cliches and humor contain an element of truth, but some folks are actually planning for the next war(s). Of nothing important, but just a chatty FYI.

  25. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    With all due respect I’m swinging at that fast ball….

    Well, we sure as hell didn’t do a very good job of planning and preparing for the current one, which I think has another generation or two to run. It really shouldn’t have been hard to extrapolate from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank to the long American occupation of an equally hostile but far, far, far larger and more porous landscape. There was a reason Bush 41 and General Powell stopped the armored columns where they did in 1991, and more than a decade later we were no more ready for what they decided not to do. Perhaps the plans were done in the interim and perhaps not executed. But I remember your (or somebody’s) earlier quotes from Eisenhower about the value of the process and do not dispute his proven insights.

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    Hello,

    Just though I’d throw this in to the discussion.

    October 2004 National Geographic

  27. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Steve Haner: No argument. There were plans. There was tinkering with the plans. There was ignoring good advice from the Army. I’ve written that Rumsfeld should have been fired and some other comments on what we were getting into. I wasn’t the only voice. I’m not in charge. Tant pis.

    Here are some of the op eds:

    2003 Long Hard Peace
    http://www.americandaily.com/article/1797

    2005 Rumsfeld is McNamara
    http://www.americandaily.com/article/7777

    And a longer list to choose from at this site.
    http://www.americandaily.com/author/51

    2005-08-03 Confessions of a Military Futurist
    2005-05-16 Rumsfeld Is McNamara
    2005-03-14 World War IV: Tactics
    2005-02-25 World War IV: The Operational Level Of War
    2005-02-22 World War IV Strategy
    2005-02-11 America’s Munificent Destiny
    2005-02-08 America’s Place In The World

    2004-12-09 The Battle Of Fallujah
    2004-12-03 Out With The Old, In With The Old
    2004-09-16 Beslan And Guernica
    2004-08-23 Rebasing The Legions
    2004-08-09 Unnecessary Wars Or Not
    2004-05-03 Why Corporal Pat Tillman Died
    2004-04-27 War Is Peace
    2004-04-23 The Army Is Right

    2003-12-11 This New Kind Of War
    2003-09-29 9-11-2103
    2003-09-09 American And Israeli Occupations
    2003-04-16 The Long Hard Peace
    2003-04-07 Criticize This
    2003-04-01 When I Was Saddam
    2003-03-22 So It Begins
    2003-03-14 A Just War Or Just A War
    2003-02-23 Give War A Chance

    For your reading pleasure.

  28. It is interesting how this discussion has been diverted from the devastation of Hurrican Katrina to the war in Iraq. It seems that the Bush haters, when they do not have facts to back up their hatred, revert to other emotional issues to change the subject. Come on guys, get over it. You lost. Bush won. Now get on with it.

    Jim Bacon is right; let’s wait until all the facts are in before we start fixing blame, if we really need to do that. But I will make one comment about one of the earlier comments: ‘speaking falsehoods like “no one thought the levees would fail”. Let me tell you, no one did think the levees would fail. Obviously, given the current reality, that was wrong. But, it was the way everyone down there thought. Being a native, I speak from some knwledge of the people there. Remember, those levees held for generations and noone thought they would fail this time.

  29. Anonymous Avatar

    http://media.vmsnews.com/MonitoringReports/090605/549440/H000361890/

    WTAE-TV CH 4 (ABC) Pittsburgh
    09/04/2005 11:00 PM – 11:35 PM [CC] 00:05:40 Senator Rick santorum is criticizing the government’s emergency response to hurricane victims hurricane katrina victims. But he’s also criticizing the ones who chose to ride out the storm. “I mean, you have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.”

    Doesn’t it make you Republicans proud that he’s in your party?

  30. Barnie Day Avatar

    “Stupid” is bipartisan, believe me. Why, some of my best friends are stupid.

  31. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Barnie is absolutely right on this. Stupid is as stupid does.

  32. Dave Burgess Avatar
    Dave Burgess

    There are some interesting points about the response on this commentary aired on NPR…for what is worth…

    Defending the Katrina Aid Effort
    by Austin Bay
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4834204

  33. Scott Leake Avatar
    Scott Leake

    Trust me, I am rarely up at this hour. But the fresh cool pre-autumnal air and a good book delayed my nocturnal soujourn. I had Letterman on with the on-screen captions. The appearance of Cokie (Boggs) Roberts captured my attention. Another “breath of fresh air.” I don’t suppose a transcript of her conversation with Dave would be available. I wish it were. While deeply grievous of her family’s situation, she, I sensed, was somehow not bitter or angry but trying to come to grips with the enormity of what faces her home region and looking forward to the relief and rebuilding efforts. Oh that insta-pundits, insta-critics and insta-bloggers had the same good judgment.

  34. “There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.”

    I agree. in the 1970’s and 1980’s there was an insane rush to cross the Atlantic in the least likely vessel possible.

    After the Coast Guard sent a few people bills for the search and rescue effort some crazy efforts came to a halt.

    Andrew:

    I’m a Bush disliker, but I agree with your comments. What happened to this thread

  35. Jim Bacon Avatar

    I am shutting down this thread and any other thread connected to Hurricane Katrina — unless there is a clear and compelling Virginia angle to it. If you want to assert George Bush’s culpability in the disaster, then fine another blog. If you want to defend George Bush, find another blog.

    If you want to discuss what Katrina means for Virginia, I recommend any number of posts that already appear on Bacon’s Rebellion. Our contributors have raised any number of serious issues already. Development of vulnerable coastlines. Erosion of the wetlands that buffer hurricane storm surges. Evacuation routes out of Hampton Roads. Reshaping government entities with appropriate size and authority to respond to emergencies. Empowering communities to respond to emergencies. Virginia’s response to the Katrina catastrophe. The Governor’s response to Katrina.

    There are any number of other useful questions that could be addressed here. What are the major threats that face Virginia? Where are the gaps? Who has first-responder responsibility, and how long would they have to operate alone before FEMA could arrive on the scene? What is the condition of Virginia’s emergency communications infrastucture — how interoperable are state, local and federal communications sytems?

    I welcome discussion on any of these topics. However, I will delete any post that veers back into partisan blame mongering/defending of President Bush, FEMA or anyone else for their role in Katrina.

    This decision is not targeted at any individual or their comments No one person’s actions or comments have inspired this decision. (Salt Lick, take note: This is not about your use of a particular word.) I don’t blame people for having strong emotions. I just refuse to allow Bacon’s Rebellion to become a forum for bitterness and divisiveness.

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