Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 24, 2006

Senators say administration is dragging feet on Katrina investigation

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on January 24, 2006

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.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

January 25, 2006 @ 8:02 am

The real story of Katrina is now being played out and should frighten most of the nation’s governors all of whom could face one kind or another of a catastrophe. Each state has its own list of risks and some are more probable than others. Nonetheless, for the first time a large scale domestic event impacting an area larger than Great Britain is witnessing the federal government for whatever reason turning the other cheek to what in effect is a domestic crisis of the first order. If the real trade-off is between domestic reconstruction and the National Security burden that should be made clear to the citizens of the United States. Once before it was done and the decision was largely outside of public purview although not technically classified. Relief from Mississippi river flooding during the Korean War was delayed because President Harry S. Truman determined that a larger portion of the nation’s cement/concrete should go to the war effort even though vitally needed in the mid-west.If there is currency to the belief that discrimination between states based on their political leadership is occurring during the recovery then those responsible for funding the recovery really are fools. The Gulf Coast is much more connected economically then most anlysts realize. It also is in essence an international border and could degenerate into a no-man’s land without much prodding from an ineffective Katrina recovery. Most of the international narcotics flow can be easily be redirected to this unoccuppied and unreconstructed space. That is a national issue, as is Mississippi River outflow shipping, and the oil/gas industry. Whether tourism and gambling restoration is equally necessary has to left to those who analyze those sectors of the economy.


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » White House meets with Katrina investigators

January 28, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

[…] Following criticism earlier in the week from members of Congress that the White House has been dragging its feet in responding to requests for information by the congressional Katrina investigators, a meeting was held yesterday at the White House with Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Kenneth Rapuano. The New York Times reports on the meeting: The White House was beset by the “fog of war” in the crucial days immediately after Hurricane Katrina, leaving it unable to respond properly to the unfolding catastrophe, House investigators said Friday after getting the most detailed briefing yet on how President Bush’s staff had handled the events. […]

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