Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Knight Ridder on Chertoff's role

Knight Ridder news services has an important article on Chertoff's role in the Katrina catastrophe. Michael Brown lost his job in part because of the failure of the government to "pre-position assets" before the storm hit--basically get the busses and rescue teams ready in advance. But the person with the real authority to do this was Chertoff. Knight Ridder found a memo, though, that shows that Chertoff did nothing until 36 hours after the storm hit, when he delegated the relevant authority to Brown. This memo also officially declared katrina an "Incident of National Significance," which triggers all sorts of federal responses, and announced that Bush would form a new task force to deal with the situation. From these facts comes the first bit of stonewalling the KR reporters got from the Bush administration:
White House and homeland security officials wouldn't explain why Chertoff waited some 36 hours to declare Katrina an incident of national significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with catastrophic force in 48 hours. Nor would they explain why Bush felt the need to appoint a separate task force.
Did Chertoff's stalling have an effect? Check this out:
Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo came on the heels of a memo from Brown, written several hours after Katrina made landfall, showing that the FEMA director was waiting for Chertoff's permission to get help from others within the massive department. In that memo, first obtained by the Associated Press last week, Brown requested Chertoff's "assistance to make available DHS employees willing to deploy as soon as possible." It asked for another 1,000 homeland security workers within two days and 2,000 within a week.
Read the whole KR piece. Very informative.

Via flint in the Majikthise comments

No comments: