Texas Gov. Rick Perry has attacked a proposed change to the White House’s federal disaster response plan, reports the Houston Chronicle. He said a modification allowing the military to intervene without local consent would endanger human life. Flanked by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, Perry said the federal government should not have the power to assume primary control of response by firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel during catastrophes such as hurricanes. The recommendation was among more than 100 made in a report, “The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned,” in February. Said Perry: “Let me be clear: If the federal government assumes control of first response to catastrophes, I believe it will add needless layers of bureaucracy, create indecisiveness, lead to rampant miscommunications and ultimately cost lives.” McCain agreed.
At issue is a recommendation in the report that would allow military commanders, such as the National Guard, to respond “under appropriate circumstances” to natural disasters and terrorist strikes without a request from local authorities. Current federal rules allow an intervention only after state and local officials ask for help.