Sunday, September 04, 2005

Some Katrina Answers

Here's a bit of information, from the Washington Post, on who is to blame for the Katrina response. As the lonely libertarian suspected, the local authorities and federal authorities were in conflict as to the handling of the situation. And as I suspected, the federal response was such a long time in coming because the local authorities took such a long time to ask for it.

Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

Later in the piece, Michael Chertoff Homeland Security Chief enlightened everyone with the observation that:

"[B]ecause our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state with the governor."

Rather than conspiracy theories, this sounds like the real story. Remember 9-11? Bureaucratic squabbles and bureaucratic incompetence seem to be the perfect recipe for disaster.


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