President Bush claimed earlier this month that “the American people can be rest assured this administration understands the task, and understands the challenges, and understands our obligation to protect you, to protect the American people.”
The administration’s failed response to Katrina proved this to be false. In the face of one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, the White House did not appreciate the gravity of the situation, did not show leadership in a crisis, and demonstrated how incompetent they would handle future emergencies unless dramatic changes are made.
Congressional investigations into Katrina are bringing to light how incapable the White House is. From today’s New York Times:
The White House was beset by the “fog of war” in the crucial days immediately after Hurricane Katrina, leaving it unable to respond properly to the unfolding catastrophe, House investigators said Friday after getting the most detailed briefing yet on how President Bush’s staff had handled the events. ["¦]
“We are left with a picture of a White House that was plagued by the fog of war,” said David Marin, the Republican staff director to the House committee investigating the government’s response to the hurricane. “The committee is likely to find a disturbing inability by the White House to de-conflict and analyze information “” and that had consequences.”
But even now, the White House is stonewalling the investigation with claims of executive privilege. The stonewalling means “it will be hard” for investigators “to pinpoint where failures occurred within the White House.”
We may never know where things went wrong before the next crisis hits.