Today, Homeland Security Chief appeared before the Senate panel investigating Katrina and made the following statement:
“It is completely correct to say that our logistics capability in Katrina was woefully inadequate. I was astonished to see we didn’t have the capability most 21st century corporations have to track the flow of goods and services,”
Yeah, I'll buy that. And we know that many, many mistakes were made, that lack of communication, failure to pay attention to warnings, and lack of planning at both the local and national levels contributed to it.
But here is the problem I have.
Go back to September 11. President Bush within days announced the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to FEMA, many other Federal agencies were folded into it, in the name of efficiency. The President asked for and Congress pumped billions after billions of dollars into the new agency, all for the purpose of making us safer.
Remember all the training that was supposed to go on, coordinating responses among Federal, State and Local responders? Remember how we were supposed to be ready to respond to a terrorist attack anywhere in America? We certainly spent the money for that.
So, Katrina came. And were we ready? No. Were there communications problems similar to 9/11? Yes. Was there a lack of planning on display? Yes. Was there bureaucratic ineptitude on display? "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie." Did help get where it was needed? No. Were the responders around? No. Were warnings ignored? Absolutely.
And the frightening thing is, that there is no reason to think that this couldn't be a terrorist attack. If terrorists had detonated a nuclear weapon in New Orleans, would the result have been all that much different?
This was the first real test of the system that the President put in place to protect us following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And it failed that test.