Storm exposed disarray at the top
Despite experience of 9/11, federal disaster system remains fatally flawed (Hello, understatement)
WASHINGTON - The killer hurricane and flood that devastated the Gulf Coast last week exposed fatal weaknesses in a federal disaster response system retooled after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to handle just such a cataclysmic event.Perhaps if we instead had referred to it initially as "Al Qaeda Katrina" or "Terrorista Katrina", things would have been different. Okay, got it - if the Bush twins were in NOLA recording their contribution to a GOP Girls Gone Wild video, things would have been different. Perhaps if the Superdome were a giant toilet filled with rich white girls, or NOLA were flooded with OIL instead of stagnant water and cadavers. Perhaps if Charity Hospital were housing a persistent vegetative and threatning to pull her feeding tube unless aid arrived, or were performing late term abortions. Perhaps if Mary Cheney were planning to attend Southern Decadence in leather chaps and nipple clamps... No, wait, scratch that one. But what was the extent of personalized compassion that Bush offered in his initial on-camera response? Poor Trent Lott, he lost his house...
Despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on Monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts.
Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government's highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe "an incident of national significance," the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.
Yet Another Gulf War
Up Against It: Buffeted by Iraq, gas prices and the fury over his response to Katrina, Bush faces a new storm of his own.
Bush, who loves to manage Iraq with metrics and outputs, spent two days reeling off statistics about trucks en route to the Gulf before expressing his frustration at the lack of progress. "I am satisfied with the response," he said of the government's emergency operations. "I'm not satisfied with all the results."Fuck you too, Grover Norquist, your partisan dismissal as a means of legitimizing human suffering and anarchy is being watched by the entire goddamned world. I really should be thanking you for the extra coffin nail you're just given every Liberal who cannot wait to see you eat crow.
The political storm may only worsen for the White House. For most of this year Bush's advisers have blamed the president's sliding poll numbers not on the war in Iraq but on high gas prices at home. Those prices spiked after Katrina, topping $3 a gallon in many neighborhoods, as the national average rose to $2.68—a 44 percent hike since last year. And there are signs that Bush's political capital is getting soggy. Former GOP House speaker Newt Gingrich sharply questioned the last four years of emergency planning. John Breaux, the former Democratic Louisiana senator and close Bush ally, rejected the president's claim that nobody anticipated the failure of the city's levees, saying he talked to Bush about it last year.
Bush partisans went on the offensive. Grover Norquist, the conservative activist with close ties to Karl Rove, blamed the chaos on "looting in a Democratic city run by a Democratic mayor and a Democratic governor." Still, nobody accused Bush of an overly rapid response. It took two days for Bush to fly over the disaster zone in Air Force One, and four days for him to touch down. In contrast, 41 toured Florida hours after Hurricane Andrew passed through in 1992; two days later he returned, while the rain was still torrential. (Bush 43's aides claimed that an earlier visit would have distracted local officials.) President Bush is at least lucky that his re-election is behind him; what lies ahead is far harder to forecast.
White House shifts blame for Katrina response
Administration, embattled FEMA chief point to state, local officials
...The administration had sought control over National Guard units, normally under control of the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request, noting that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. State authorities suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who is an adviser and does not have the authority to speak publicly.Is it just me, or does the White House look like a giant litter box overflowing with cats desperately trying to cover shit up?
Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort...
Qatar offers $100m to relief fund
The oil-rich nation of Qatar has offered the United States $100 million to assist in the humanitarian crisis triggered by Hurricane Katrina.Other offers of aid and assistance have come in from countries around the world -- including from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, the four countries hardest-hit by the December 26 Asian tsunami.
The state-run Qatar News Agency said Saturday that Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, decided to contribute that amount for relief "and humanitarian supplies for the victims of this disaster."
The U.S. government has received offers of support from dozens of nations across the globe.
As of Friday, the White House had not accepted any offers, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the State Department was "working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security to match up what is available with what is needed."
The State Department said offers of help had been received from more than 50 countries, including: Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.