Thursday, February 16, 2006

Katrina – Will We Ever Be Ready?

Katrina – Will We Ever Be Ready?

from Talking Points -- a publication of the American Progress Action Fund

published February 13 , 2006


Yesterday, House investigators released a draft Katrina report titled, "A Failure of Initiative." The report pointed out information that the American people already know – "Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare." While the administration loves to tout its national security credentials, the Bush security team failed horribly before, during, and after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, despite plenty of advance warning. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), who is hesitant to question Bush's national security credibility, said, "And next time, God forbid, it could be a terrorist attack, and there's not going to be a warning from the weather service.”

  • Katrina proved that the administration’s boasting on national security rings hollow. The Bush administration has often claimed it understands the importance of national security and is committed to protecting the American people. “The Bush White House has not been shy about its political use of an event, the 9/11 terrorist attacks," the Christian Science Monitor reports. As more findings are released, President Bush will have to prove that he is indeed up to the task of protecting America. The House’s Katrina report found that “America is still not ready for prime time."

  • More than four years later, the government has still not learned the lesson of 9/11. In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush promised that we would “learn every lesson of September the 11th.” Hurricane Katrina proved that not only had the administration not learned its lesson, but it still had a "pre-9/11 worldview." From a lack of communications among first responders and a shortage of qualified emergency personnel to a lack of funding for reconstruction efforts, Katrina exposed the harsh reality that America was not ready to handle a disaster – natural or manmade.

  • The Bush Homeland Security budget will make things worse, not better. Judging from the Bush administration’s homeland security budget submission last week, Secretary Michael Chertoff has not learned anything from his department’s inadequate response to Katrina, particularly its inability to work effectively with state and local officials. The Department of Homeland Security proposes to cut federal grants to cities and states by 26 percent. Particularly hard hit are grants to first responders. Katrina proved if you don’t study and learn from your mistakes, you are bound to commit them again. It seems the administration is well on its way.

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