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Homeland Security; A Case Of Incredible Bungling


By James Donahue

Sept. 9,2005


President George W. Bush used an executive order to create the office of Homeland Security just over a month following the 9-11 attack.


It was a typical political move designed to make Bush appear to be doing something constructive. Critics said then it wouldn’t work. They were proved right when the agency was put to its first real test with Hurricane Katrina.


The Office of Homeland Security is a massive bureaucratic nightmare that now oversees a wide assortment of other federal agencies that once worked relatively well on their own. Of course they were encumbered with the usual federal red tape that goes with all federal dollars spent for public benefit.


Putting all of those offices under the umbrella of a single Homeland Security office, simply added another layer of red tape.


This is why, when Katrina tore its way through Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, it has been almost impossible for these federal agencies to respond with the promptness needed to save lives and comfort the victims.


To put it simply, everybody on the lower rungs of the ladder is under orders to wait until they are told what to do. And those orders apparently must go through a committee at the top that first must assess the problem.


Tom Ridge, who first directed this hodge-podge of foolishness, knew when to bail out. His successor, Michael Chertoff, and FEMA director Michael Brown are taking a lot of heat, which they deserve, for the amazing bungling that has been happening since the storm. It is as if they don’t know what to do or when to do it.


We are still hearing horror stories on our nightly news about incredible incompetence.


Why when they knew the storm was coming at least two if not three days before it struck, did it take another five days before emergency teams arrived in New Orleans with basic services like food and water?


Why are well trained rapid response medical teams still waiting on the outskirts of the disaster zone for orders on where to go and what to do?


Why is there thousands of mini-mobile homes, donated by caring businesses and citizens all over the nation to give instant shelter to the homeless, still parked in a large field and unused?


Why has FEMA failed to respond to offers of help from many foreign countries, all poised and ready to bring food, medical support, and skilled labor into the area?


Why are families that survived the storm now being separated, with children torn from their mother’s arms and sent in one direction and the parents in another? Now we have a new emergency, with parents frantically searching to find their missing children.


Why were families forced to leave their pets behind when the rescue teams came? Now there is a major problem of dogs, cats and other animals running at large all over the disaster zone.


In spite of President Bush’s late intervention, and his request for billions of dollars for disaster relief, the bungling continues.


It is clear that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. And neither hand is using any common sense when it comes to providing the disaster relief so desperately needed by so many people.


Thus the massive bungling by our government is exacerbating one of the worst disasters ever to occur in the United States. It might have been better if Homeland Security, FEMA and all of the others just stayed out of it and let the states and local agencies work unencumbered through well-known and established agencies like the American Red Cross and the National Guard.


Under the present rules, everybody, even the Red Cross, must wait for orders from on top before making a move in a case of national disaster.


The rule at the top should be to simply send food, water, soldiers and money. Let the locals decide what to do with it and how to do it. We don’t have time to deal with red tape at a time like this.

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