The 9/11 Commissioners will release a report tomorrow on emergency preparedness, and it doesn’t look so good for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Commissioner Slade Gorton told the Tacoma News Tribune that FEMA would have been better prepared to handle Hurricane Katrina had it heeded the 9/11 Commission’s advice.
“Clearly, FEMA did little if any planning for a disaster of this nature. And clearly FEMA’s response was insufficient, slow and bureaucratic,” Gorton, a former three-term U.S. Senator from Seattle, said Monday.
The Commission officially disbanded last year, but has continued to operate as the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, and plans to issue several reports over the coming weeks. Amongst the prior recommendations tomorrow’s report will detail have not been met are:
- Establish a unified incident command system.
- Provide space on the radio spectrum for emergency responders.
- Allocate homeland security money based on risk, not politics.
Gorton’s criticism of FEMA was blunt.
Gorton said there are lingering questions “about whether or not FEMA should have been buried in the Homeland Security Department.”
And he said he was relieved that Michael Brown resigned Monday as director of FEMA. Brown’s qualifications, which have been criticized as inadequate, weren’t the problem, as much as his failure to follow emergency response guidelines, said Gorton.
“He didn’t have a whole lot of qualifications in this particular field,” said Gorton, but “someone could have been a professional football player” and done a better job.
I’m not sure what Gorton has against professional football players, but you get the point. FEMA was as much of a disaster as Katrina.
[Cross-posted at Daily Kos]