[percy-l] Countdown to a Meltdown

Tommy Armstrong tfa at brickengraver.com
Fri Sep 9 11:07:04 EDT 2005

I think I read all the articles cited by Karey--and agree that it was a huge
screw up. Plenty of blame to go around and obviously a lot of praise also,
especially since the aid from FEMA, the DOD, and the country at large has
kicked in. But it was still the local state and city's responsibilities to
effect the evacuation and the pre-planning and position of resources to
carry it out. They did not do their homework and they flunked the test.
There are very real and important reasons why the first line of defense
should be local and state, and then support should be from the Federal
Government. The Feds should not simply be able to come in, declare an
emergency, and then take over the operation. It seems that a vast number of
people in this country see this as its proper role--but it is not--the
request for aid needs to be done from the state to the feds, not letting the
feds summarily dictate. Many companies had Emergency Management Plans for
evacuation and safeguard of their resources in event of such a disaster, and
many worked well. The City of New Orleans should have had one also. The
State of Louisiana should have required them to have one. If their plan was
to pass the logistics up to FEMA and the DOHS, then that was a bad plan, and
when it did not work, their backup should have kicked in. 
There are questions and concerns also of the posse comitatus Act of 1879.
"The Act embodies the traditional American principle of separating civilian
and military authority and currently forbids the use of the Army and Air
Force to enforce civilian laws."
This is not France or England or Canada where there is a national police
force. We are still a federation of states, and those powers not
specifically delegated to the Federal Government in the constitution are
retained by the individual states. 
>From the Newsweek Article cited.
"Nagin himself had problems of his own. He had opened up the Superdome to
thousands of people-but nobody seemed to have had a plan to care for them or
to get them out of there. There were promises of buses that never came. Some
500 National Guardsmen showed up to keep order, but the nervous young
soldiers waved their weapons about. People began to complain that they were
being held in a prison. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco seemed
uncertain and sluggish, hesitant to declare martial law or a state of
emergency, which would have opened the door to more Pentagon help. 

Washington, too, was slow to react to the crisis. The Pentagon, under
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was reluctant for the military to take a
lead role in disaster relief, a job traditionally performed by FEMA and by
the National Guard, which is commanded by state governors. President Bush
could have "federalized" the National Guard in an instant. That's what his
father, President George H.W. Bush, did after the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
Back then, the Justice Department sent Robert Mueller, a jut-jawed ex-Marine
(who is now FBI director), to take charge, showing, in effect, that the
cavalry had arrived. FEMA's current head, Michael Brown, has appeared over
his head and even a little clueless in news interviews. He is far from the
sort of take-charge presence New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani conveyed after

Tommy Armstrong
You can get all A's and still flunk life. 
 <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/walkerperc107608.html> Walker


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