Four years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the federal government has failed to enact crucial reforms that could have saved lives and improved the response to Hurricane Katrina, says to a report due today from former members of the federal Sept. 11 commission, the Washington Post reports. Local emergency officials are unable to reliably communicate with one another during disasters, the federal government has no clear system of command and control for responding to a crisis, and authorities have faltered in enacting basic border controls designed to keep out terrorists, says the report.
Thomas H. Kean (R), the former New Jersey governor who headed the panel that investigated the terrorist attacks, said the bungled response to Katrina laid bare how unprepared the nation remains for a catastrophic event. “This is not a terrorist incident, but it brings into play all of the same issues and shortcomings,” Kean said. “What makes you mad is that it’s the same things we saw on 9/11. Whoever is responsible for acting in these places hasn’t acted. Are they going to do it now? What else has to happen for people to act?” Congress and the Bush administration are in the midst of a debate over whether an independent panel akin to the Sept. 11 commission should be formed to study missteps that left tens of thousands in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast stranded without assistance after Katrina.