Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 28, 2006

White House meets with Katrina investigators

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on January 28, 2006

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.

The article goes on to detail the timeline by which the White House received information about levee breaks in New Orleans.

The article also notes:

With the House not yet in session, only one lawmaker from the investigative committee — its chairman, Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia — was present for the briefing. Mr. Rapuano told him and the staff investigators that the White House role had been to monitor the situation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, were operationally in charge, he said.

It’s disappointing that more members of Congress were unable or unwilling to cut their vacations short and return to DC for this important meeting.

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3 Comments »

156

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 29, 2006 @ 2:37 am

During the winter of 1992-93 several follow-up initiatives to the reform the dismal federal initial performance in responding to Hurrican Andrew in August 1982 occurred. First, the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) released its report “Coping With Catastrophe.” Second, initiatives by Senators of both parties resulted in introduction of S.995 and conduct of hearings. S.995 would have created a Domestic Crisis Unit in the White House. Because of the change of administrations from George Herbert Walker Bush to William Jefferson Clinton, changes recommended by both NAPA and S.995 were adopted in part and rejected in part. It is clear that whatever worked in the past, these past recommendations should be restudied to determine their relevance in post-Katrina reforms. The time for a highly personalized system of domestic crisis response is long gone. Another Katrina on the Gulf Coast (e.g. Texas or Florida))or a catastrophic earthquake in California or elsewhere, or a large-scale domestic attack (e.g.WMD) necessitate this change.

157

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 29, 2006 @ 2:38 am

Hurricane Andrew made land-fall in August 1992!

161

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

January 29, 2006 @ 7:54 am

I am still trying to figure out what happened to the report that Frances Townsend, HS Advisor to the President, was supposed to issue in Dec. Is this briefing related or instead of a public report?

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