The AP and Reuters report on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) hearing on Katrina today, at which the chair and ranking members of the committee criticized the administration for their responsiveness to the committee:
Sen. Collins (R-ME):
“We are entitled to know if someone from the Department of Homeland Security calls someone at the White House during this whole crisis period,” Collins said. “So I think the White House has gone too far in restricting basic information about who called whom on what day.”
She added, “It is completely inappropriate” for the White House to bar agency officials from talking to the Senate committee.
Sen. Lieberman (D-CT):
“The problems begin at the White House, where there has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation we have a responsibility to do,” Lieberman said in a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security Committee….
“There’s been no assertion of executive privilege; just a refusal to answer,” Lieberman said.
“My staff believes that (the Department of Homeland Security) has engaged in a conscious strategy of slow walking our investigation in the hope that we would run out of time to follow the investigation’s natural progression to where it leads.”
Both Sen. Collins and Sen. Lieberman have generally been staunch supporters of the Department of Homeland Security since its birth. The fact that both are publicly expressing frustration with DHS and the White House on this issue is very telling. The American people deserve a full and complete answer to the question of what happened during the response to Katrina – not as ammunition for partisan games, but because if we don’t find out the whole and complete truth, we’re going to be less prepared the next time we’re hit, whether it be by a hurricane or a dirty bomb. That fact should be unacceptable to anyone who cares about national security and preparedness.
Update (1/24): The prepared testimony of the four witnesses in the hearing today is available here.
Update 2 (1/24): More from the New York Times.