Feds to Gulf Coast: You Didn’t Say Please

Here’s a small sample of how the Bush Administration brings the country together in a time of crisis and untold human suffering:

"Our constitutional system really places the primary authority in each
state with the governor
." — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, explaining why federal assets were not used more quickly.

"The mayor can order an evacuation and try to
evacuate the city, but if the mayor does not have the resources to get
the poor, elderly, the disabled, those who cannot, out, or if he does
not even have police capacity to enforce the mandatory evacuation, to
make people leave, then you end up with the kind of situation we have
right now in New Orleans
." — FEMA Director
Michael D. Brown.

Why, three years after the local newspaper warned about hurricane threats and three months after the latest warning by the Army Corps of Engineers, was the federal government waiting for an invitation to help? Why, in the days prior to a storm that everyone knew was going to be devestating, did FEMA not provide the "resources" that apparently were the resposibility of a first-term mayor in a mid-sized American city?

We know the answers: Bureaucracy, politics, budget cuts, short-sightedness and blissful ignorance. Over the next weeks and months, I hope more in the media and in government, at all levels, ask the questions.

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