Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff announces recall of FEMA Director Michael Brown from overseeing Gulf Coast remedial efforts. He heads back to D.C. where he will continue to direct all other aspects of FEMA. Vice Admiral Thad Allen from the Coast Guard will supervise the FEMA effort in the Gulf Coast. Which begs the question: If a terrorist bomb is released in Los Angeles tomorrow, won't too little, too late Michael Brown respond with the same lack of experience as he did in the Katrina disaster?
Given that the logistical and material support in the Gulf Coast would make the decisions in response to another emergency immensely more difficult, leaving Michael Brown as head of FEMA is yet again a decision reflecting this administration's too little, too late, policy. The President is gambling with American security and American lives. He is gambling that nothing else happens with Brown as FEMA director, rather than simply acknowledge his appointment was a mistake and replace him with someone with the experience and competence to respond appropriately.
Michael Chertoff is also a Bush appointee and lacks in experience with disaster management as he oversees the FEMA agency, which was incorporated into Homeland Defense during the President's last term in office. This kind of political covering for incompetence remains too little, too late. But it doesn't stop there.
Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.Because of Pres. Bush's appointees, America is still vulnerable. Katrina drove home the cost of political cronyism which places incompetents and the inexperienced into positions of responsibility as a form of political compensation for campaign aid and loyalty. This is highlighted by a Reuter's story which reports:
Many of those at the top of the U.S. agency charged with managing disaster relief had no emergency oversight experience but did have political ties to Bush, the Washington Post reported.
In addition, embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown had less experience in disaster relief than described in his official agency biography and cited during his confirmation hearing, Time magazine reported. It quoted a local official as saying a prior job was "more like an intern" than a manager.
There is no question, the Republican Government's too little, too late approach in Iraq, on deficits and national debt, and now with Katrina, is being exposed. Former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell's statements were reported by Reuters:
"There have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels -- local, state and federal," Powell said in an ABC interview for the "20/20" program to be broadcast on Friday evening.
"There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done. I don't think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don't know why," Powell said in excerpts on ABC's Web site.
It will be difficult for a while to find other Republicans in leadership roles criticizing the Katrina response. Behind the scenes, there is no doubt a whip calling upon all Congressional Republicans to follow their 2002 and 2004 strategies for handling criticism, support the President, support his policies, support the party, and turn all criticism elsewhere, preferably back on Democrats. With Pres. Bush's polls finding ever new lows, such a Republican strategy may be their only hope in the 2006 elections since there will be no presidential coattails carrying them back into office. Presenting a united front against criticism, will however be tougher as conscience has to be straining some GOP Congresspersons. One Republican may not talk in lockstep as evidenced by Rep. Ron Paul's speech yesterday on the house floor slamming the Bush War and occupation in Iraq.
Had Republicans made good on their promise for fiscal responsibility, the cost of Katrina would not be the damaging economic liability that is obviously coming as estimates for federal aid are now in the 100 billion ballpark adding to deficits and the already 8 trillion dollar national debt, and does not include as much as 1% drop in GDP growth and its consequent reduction in federal revenues.
Too sad that so much suffering and even loss of life could have been avoided had too little, too late, not been the hallmarks of this President, his party, and many of his appointees. Let Americans never forget the words of Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish outside New Orleans. Days into the disaster, he broke down during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
Nobody is coming to get us. Nobody is coming to get us. The secretary (of Homeland Security) has promised. Everybody has promised. They have had press conferences," he said. "I am sick of the press conferences! For God's sakes, shut up and send us somebody!