The blame lies on more people than just our president
RE: Bush: Colorblind or just blind? (SDN Sept. 14)There have been numerous editorials and letters over the past few days concerning our government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. The vast majority have been extremely critical of President Bush and our federal-level effort. So, Mrs. Harper’s column was just the latest in a series.First, let’s consider the headline over Mrs. Harper’s editorial, “Bush: Colorblind or just blind?” It was an interesting choice of words considering Mrs. Harper’s concern for “the racial divide.” Additionally, how can one intelligently critique the government’s response to Katrina without considering the local and state response and the protocol involved with a state requesting federal help? Certainly editorial writers and letter writers are entitled to their opinions. But, I believe that these writers should make an attempt to gather all the available facts, to be fair and honest and at least try to not let their political ideology crowd out the facts and cloud their writings.First, FEMA is not a first-responder organization. What’s the protocol involved in order to have the Feds come in and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act or for the President to invoke the Insurgency Act? I don’t know. It has been reported that President Bush called Governor Blanco late Friday night and again on Saturday to plead with her to sign the appropriate papers, and that he called Mayor Nagin to urge a mandatory city evacuation. Who exactly was asleep at the wheel here and for how long? We may need to wait for the congressional investigation to find out. The removal of the head of FEMA was probably a good thing. If nothing else, he seemingly was not qualified to run that organization.Here’s what we do know. The head of the National Hurricane Center called Nagin and Blanco personally Friday night to plead with them to begin a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. This is not speculation or hearsay. I heard him say that on national TV. We can, however, speculate on the state and city leadership’s reasons for not ordering a mandatory evac early on.And, where was the National Guard and state police? It has been reported that the governor had access to close to 7,000 National Guard troops and 1,000 State Police. There were a reported 300 National Guard Troops in the city prior to the hurricane. We can speculate as to the reasons for this non-deployment.And, now the Mayor. Was he not aware that the poorest of his citizens lacked transportation to evac the city, after he finally got around to issuing the order? Where were his city buses? And, finally, the levees, one of the primary causes of this disaster, seemingly in need of upgrading for the last 30 years or more. Who gets the blame for the levees? Was there any funding for the levees in the recently enacted Federal Highway Bill? Was past funding diverted to vote-producing projects in the state? So, as some of the more intelligent talking heads have stated, “There’s more than enough blame to go around.” But, “Bush: Colorblind or just Blind?” This isn’t fair nor is it honest. I think Mrs. Harper, not to mention other writers in your newspaper, should more properly be asking Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco that question.
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