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DHS planned for massive, Katrina-style event: in 2003

From the NYT's "The Virus Underground" from February 8, 2004:

Paula Scalingi, the former director of the Department of Energy's Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection, now works as a consultant running disaster-preparedness exercises. Last year she helped organize ''Purple Crescent'' in New Orleans, an exercise that modeled a terrorist strike against the city's annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. The simulation includes a physical attack but also uses a worm unleashed by the terrorists designed to cripple communications and sow confusion nationwide. The physical attack winds up flooding New Orleans; the cyberattack makes hospital care chaotic. ''They have trouble communicating, they can't get staff in, it's hard for them to order supplies,'' she says...

In October 2004, Purple Crescent 2 was held:

What happens when terrorist or would be hackers attempt to disrupt communications infrastructure concurrent with a natural disaster taking place in or around the City of New Orleans, Louisiana? The effects of a large natural disaster are already devastating as we are seeing along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Ivan made landfall. How much worse could it be if domestic or international terrorists attempted to impede preparations before the storm, or the recovery after the storm, by utilizing cyber-terrorism? All agencies, including government, law enforcement, EMS, public health, commercial banking, petro-chemical, and private enterprises are welcome to participate in this DHS monitored and supported exercise.

More information on this here. He's also filed a FOIA request on both exercises. (nofollowtags used because he does on all those comments he got).

Chertoff, Brown, who was in charge

From this:

Chertoff worked from home the day [Leo Bosner, a "26-year FEMA employee and union leader"] first warned of the hurricane's catastrophic potential for New Orleans, CNN's Tom Foreman reported. Chertoff also has been criticized for writing a memo the day after Katrina struck, delegating authority to Brown and deferring to the White House rather than taking charge.
Chertoff has not commented, but a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said he was in touch with Brown the weekend Katrina approached New Orleans.
The homeland security spokesperson also defended the memo, saying it merely put in writing procedures already in place. But the national disaster plan states that Homeland Security is in charge of the response to disasters like Katrina.

Experts: Bush already has enough military powers, he just failed to use them

The article "Key military help for victims of Hurricane Katrina was delayed" says that Bush already had enough military powers to do what was necessary, he - and Michael Chertoff - simply failed to act quickly enough. The military has taken part in past disasters, and that's allowed as long as they don't perform police activities.

..."If the 1st Cav and 82nd Airborne had gotten there on time, I think we would have saved some lives," said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Reagan from 1985 to 1989. "We recognized we had to get people out, and they had helicopters to do that."
...Between 1992 and 1996, the Pentagon provided support in 18 disasters and developed five training manuals on how to work with FEMA and civilians in natural disasters...
... Several emergency response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government - including those of the Department of Defense.
"To say I've suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security...
..."Everything he did and everything he has said strongly suggests that [the National Response Plan] was never read," Greenberger said of Chertoff...
... Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, who served under President Clinton, believes that the Bush administration is mistaken if it thinks there are impediments to using the military for non-policing help in a disaster.
"When we were there and FEMA was intact, the military was a resource to us," said Witt. "We pulled them in very quickly. I don't know what rule he (Bush) talked about. ... We used military assets a lot."
Jamie Gorelick, the deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration who also was a member of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said clear legal guidelines have been in place for using the military on U.S. soil since at least 1996, when the Justice Department was planning for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
"It's not like people hadn't thought about this," Gorelick said. "This is not new. We've had riots. We've had floods. We've had the loss of police control over communities.
"I'm puzzled as to what happened here," she said...
... "I see no impediment in law or in policy to getting them there," [ Scott Silliman, a former judge advocate general who's now the executive director of Duke University Law School's Center for Law, Ethics and National Security] said. "We could have sent in helicopters. We could have sent in forces to do search and rescue and to provide humanitarian aid. Everything but law enforcement."
... "They're trying to say that greater federal authority would have made a difference," said George Haddow, a former FEMA deputy chief of staff and the co-author of a textbook on emergency management. "The reality is that the feds are the ones that screwed up in the first place. It's not about authority. It's about leadership. ... They've got all the authority already."

Other parts of this article were covered in "Levee break, military response timeline".

USCG, FEMA ordered doctor to stop saving victim's life

Hopefully the following incident will generate at least a lawsuit. Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter and another doctor flew in to LA with medical supplies and made his way to Louis Armstrong International Airport, where he was asked to look after patients on the tarmac:

In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"I begged him to let me continue," said Perlmutter, who left his home and practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania to come to Louisiana and volunteer to care for hurricane victims. "People were dying, and I was the only doctor on the tarmac... where scores of nonresponsive patients lay on stretchers. Two patients died in front of me.
"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

According to FEMA:
"...The voluntary doctor was not a credentialed FEMA physician and, thus, was subject to law enforcement rules in a disaster area."
The Coast Coast didn't confirm the incident but is looking in to it.
On Sep. 2 LA lifted their out-of-state licensure requirements (PDF).
Here's more on the Good Samaritan laws (PDF).

White House told power crews to restore pipeline first, then hospitals

From this:

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.
That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals [Stone County Hospital in Wiggins and George County Hospital in Lucedale] and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt...
..."I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating," said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association - which distributes power that rural electric cooperatives sell to consumers and businesses.
"I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority," Compton said. "Our people were told to work until it was done.
"They did it in 16 hours, and I consider the effort unprecedented..."
...Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney's office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.
Jordan dated the first call the night of Aug. 30 and the second call the morning of Aug. 31. Southern Pines supplies electricity to the substation that powers the Colonial pipeline.
Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Mike Callahan said the U.S. Department of Energy called him on Aug. 31. Callahan said department officials said opening the fuel line was a national priority.
Cheney's office referred calls about the pipeline to the Department of Homeland Security. Calls there were referred to Kirk Whitworth, who would not take a telephone message and required questions in the form of an e-mail.
Susan Castiglione, senior manager of corporate and public affairs with Colonial Pipeline, did not return phone calls...

DHS OIG gets $15 million to oversee federal spending

Thirty Department of Homeland Security auditors and investigators from the Office of the Inspector General will monitor funds dispersed for Katrina disaster aid. The latest aid bill included $15 million for that purpose; the 2006 budget for the OIC is $83 million:
From this:

"It is a significant amount of money," former DHS Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin.

More in "Homeland Security Watchdogs to Monitor Katrina Contracts".
From March of this year's "Watchdog details confrontations with Ridge":

The Homeland Security Department's former independent watchdog [Clark Kent Ervin] says he was twice summoned to then-Secretary Tom Ridge's office last year and asked why his reports criticizing the agency were being sent to Congress and whether they could be presented more favorably to the department...

Let's hope that a similar situation is not happening this time.

Allbaugh's Rathergate, TANG connection

It all fits together! According to this not-exactly-credible report:

Among his many acts of service, Allbaugh was reportedly the man dispatched to clean out Bush's Texas National Guard file prior to the 2000 presidential campaign.

It does, however, have this useful but unconfirmed bit of information:

In March 2003, the Bush administration degraded matters further by demoting FEMA from a Cabinet-level agency to a division of the freshly spawned Department of Homeland Security. The merger involved a nonsensical split in the government's disaster-response duties: FEMA would remain in charge of disaster response efforts on the ground, but DHS was placed in charge of disaster-response planning.

"FEMA chief waited until after storm hit"

AP:

The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region - and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.
Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.
Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged...
...Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said Brown had positioned front-line rescue teams and Coast Guard helicopters before the storm. Brown's memo on Aug. 29 aimed to assemble the necessary federal work force to support the rescues, establish communications and coordinate with victims and community groups, Knocke said.
Instead of rescuing people or recovering bodies, these employees would focus on helping victims find the help they needed, he said...
...Brown's memo told employees that among their duties, they would be expected to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public."
"FEMA response and recovery operations are a top priority of the department and as we know, one of yours," Brown wrote Chertoff. He proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days.
Knocke said the 48-hour period suggested for the Homeland employees was to ensure they had adequate training. "They were training to help the life-savers," Knocke said.
Employees required a supervisor's approval and at least 24 hours of disaster training in Maryland, Florida or Georgia. "You must be physically able to work in a disaster area without refrigeration for medications and have the ability to work in the outdoors all day," Brown wrote.
The same day Brown wrote Chertoff, Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments. Brown said it was vital to coordinate fire and rescue efforts.
Meanwhile, the airline industry said the government's request for help evacuating storm victims didn't come until late Thursday afternoon. The president of the Air Transport Association, James May, said the Homeland Security Department called then to ask if the group could participate in an airlift for refugees.

In addition to all the complaints about the numbers and dates, shouldn't they have been trained well in advance?

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