Homeland Security’s Terror Vs. Natural Disater Dilemma


The U.S. Homeland Security Department was so focused on terrorist attacks that it was woefully unprepared to deal with a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, said experts quoted by the New York Daily News. The sprawling agency was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to take charge of all national emergency efforts, but proved ill-suited to the complex job of storm relief. “Since 9/11 FEMA has been basically dissected and taken apart,” said James Lee Witt, who ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bill Clinton. “If you don’t plan together and train together you cannot respond. It needs to be put back as an independent agency.”

The Pentagon hampered the effort by initially resisting using troops to help victims of the killer hurricane, reported Newsweek. President Bush could have quickly “federalized” the National Guard and handed over the security aspects of the relief effort to the military – as his father did during the 1992 Los Angeles race riots. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hinted the administration might try to blame local officials for failing to give an accurate picture of the crisis. “One of the things we’ll look at is why in the middle of this emerging crisis there was kind of a conflict on the information,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/343500p-293305c.html

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