The White House’s report released today, “The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned,” blames the Katrina response exclusively on the federal government’s plans and structures, rather than on individual people. Homeland Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend:
The system wasn’t dependent on any one person. … It was a failure of various aspects of decision-making that needed to happen real time and quickly to get federal response efforts.
The report ignores the responsibility of top Bush administration officials. Luckily the recent bipartisan report from House of Representatives fills in the gaps. From The Washington Post:
[The report] lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council.
Regarding Bush, the report also found that “earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response” because he alone could have cut through all bureaucratic resistance.