Disaster Buck Stopped at Chertoff, Not Brown
Report; Posted on: 2005-09-15 14:31:19

Protocols enacted last year place responsibility for federal disaster management on the DHS chief’s desk – what’s more, they give no indication that he can pass that authority on to the FEMA director.

by Jessica Azulay

According to rules enacted by the Bush administration, the hailstorm of criticism targeted at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be spread to the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Though FEMA’s director at the time, Michael Brown, has been widely blamed for the glacial and inadequate federal response to Katrina, December 2004 protocols put in place by the Department of Homeland Security clearly show Brown’s boss, Michael Chertoff, was technically in charge from the beginning.

According to the National Response Plan, enacted to coordinate the federal handling of terrorist attacks or natural disasters, primary responsibility for coordinating aid and support to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina sat squarely on the shoulders of the Homeland Security secretary. A DHS memo from Chertoff shows that he did not put Brown in charge until two days after the hurricane slammed into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The National Response Plan, which was enacted by DHS under a presidential directive, plainly outlines the chain of command for local, state and federal agencies when dealing with a large disaster. In cases in which "resources of State and local authorities are overwhelmed and federal assistance has been requested," the plan designates the DHS secretary as the "principal Federal official" for "domestic incident management."

Officials in the three most-affected states requested federal assistance for dealing with the hurricane before the storm struck, which, according to the Plan, would have automatically placed Chertoff in charge of "coordinating Federal resources utilized in response to or recovery from" Katrina as early as Saturday, August 27.

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Source: New Standard • Printed from National Vanguard
( http://www.nationalvanguard.org/story.php?id=6154 )
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