Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"One of the most significant intelligence failures in history"

Roger Pielke jr on the federal response to Katrina (via Chris Mooney)
The Bush Administration's complete lack of preparedness for responding to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is one of the most significant intelligence failures in history, ranking right up there with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Ii will be important in the coming months for Congress to investigate this policy failure with every bit of effort that it did after 9/11. Let me say that I have every expectation that the government professionals now fully engaged in the rescue and recovery operations will do an outstanding job. The question that needs to be asked, and it is not too soon to begin asking, is why was the federal government so unprepared for the disaster in the face of robust scientific knowledge about the disaster at all time scales? This is especially in light of the fact that the government completely reorganized itself after 9/11 to improve the nation's preparedness and response to catastrophes.

Like many people, I too was buoyed by the reports in the immediate aftermath of Katrina that New Orleans had dodged another bullet. It is understandable that government officials not involved with disaster preparedness and response (including the President) might have seen these reports and felt the same way. But to learn that the federal government agencies responsible for disaster preparation and management had taken very little action in the days and hours before Katrina's landfall to prepare for the possibility of flooding of New Orleans is simply amazing. I study disasters and find this incredible

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