[QODLink]
Archive
US failed Katrina victims, inquiry says

The Republican and Democratic leaders of a Senate committee have chastised Michael Chertoff, director of Homeland Security, as a congressional inquiry found thousands of Hurricane Katrina's victim

Last Modified: 15 Feb 2006 19:47 GMT
More could have been done to prevent deaths, an inquiry said

The Republican and Democratic leaders of a Senate committee have chastised Michael Chertoff, director of Homeland Security, as a congressional inquiry found thousands of Hurricane Katrina's victims could have been spared.

Chertoff acknowledged "many lapses" and said he accepted responsibility on Wednesday. He called the storm "one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of my life".

 

Chertoff, on the job for one year on Wednesday, drew sharp criticism from both the Republican chairwoman and senior Democrat on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

 

Senator Susan Collins, the panel's chairwoman, said the Department of Homeland Security's performance in responding to the hurricane "must be judged a failure".

 

She called it "late, uncertain and ineffective".

 

Senator Joseph Lieberman, the panel's top Democrat, criticised Chertoff for going to Atlanta for an unrelated conference on 30 August, the day after the storm roared ashore.

 

Uncertainty

 

Lieberman said: "How could you go to bed that night (29 August) not knowing what was going on in New Orleans?"

 

Michael Chertoff said Katrina was
traumatic for him

Lieberman said that under Chertoff's oversight, disaster workers "ran around like Keystone cops, uncertain about what they were supposed to do or uncertain how to do it".

 

Collins told Chertoff "I remain perplexed" about his decision to designate Michael Brown, then chairman of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as point man on co-ordinating the government's response to Katrina.

 

Brown, widely criticised for his performance, resigned under pressure soon after.

 

He later accused others in the administration, including White House officials and Chertoff, of dragging their feet and ignoring his warnings of widespread flooding in New Orleans after the storm hit.

 

Unaware

 

Chertoff said there was "no reason to doubt his commitment".

 

"If I knew then what I know now about Mr Brown's agenda, I would have done something different."

 

"When I went to bed, it was my belief ... that actually the storm had not done the worst that could be imagined"

Michael Chertoff,
director of Homeland Security

 

He reiterated that he did not realise that levees or embankments in New Orleans had been breached on the day of the storm - despite Brown's claims to the contrary.

 

"When I went to bed, it was my belief ... that actually the storm had not done the worst that could be imagined."

 

A House inquiry titled "A Failure of Initiative," which was released on Wednesday, concluded that much of the death and suffering might have been avoided if the government had heeded lessons from the 2001 terror attacks and taken a more proactive stance toward disaster preparedness.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
join our mailing list