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GOP investigation not "partisan cover-up"

From this:

An investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina will "move ahead" even if Democrats choose not to participate, the head of the probe said Wednesday.
"This is not some partisan cover-up," Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the Select Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, told reporters. "We're working for the American people, and we want the hard questions to be asked and answered."
Davis added that the probe "can't wait" for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, who refuses to name any Democratic members to the select committee, which she has called a partisan "whitewash" and a "sham." Late Thursday afternoon, Davis released the list of 11 members of the select committee, including himself, all of whom are Republican...

Blanco wants nonpartisan probe

On Sep 21 Governor Kathleen Blanco sent a letter to George Bush requesting a non-partisan probe.

Frances Townsend took call from Blanco

According to this Sep. 12 entry:

...there was one phone call that Gov. Blanco made to the President and he wasn't available to take it - so it was fielded by White House National Security Advisor Frances Townsend...

Previously: "Bush advisor to investigate Bush administration response". The advisor in question is Townsend.
What they discussed in the call or other details are not known.

Joint probe scrapped

Yesterday the Repubs and Dems were unable to agree on a joint probe, and Sen. Bill Frist scrapped the idea:

...The Democratic leadership has refused to appoint members to a joint committee, citing the lack of equal representation of Democrats on the panel, and the lack of power to issue subpoenas that the majority opposed. Democrats also have insisted on an independent inquiry...
Meanwhile, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was having no more luck persuading House Democrats to participate in that chamber's probe.
Late last week, Hastert named Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Governmental Reform Committee, to head the House's special panel investigating the hurricane response. Davis may name Republican members to that committee as early as Tuesday and is planning his first hearing later this week.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) remains adamant that Democrats will not participate in the House committee.

Bush advisor to investigate Bush administration response

Despite the Banana Republicesque appearance of the move, the Bush administration has selected his homeland security advisor, Fran Townsend, to lead in internal probe into the federal response to Katrina, Reuters says.

...A separate congressional inquiry will also investigate what went wrong with the federal response. But Bush so far has refused to back calls from Democrats for an independent commission to look at the disaster response.
"The president said he wanted to hold people accountable. This is one of the many ways in which he will do that," the [spokesman Trent Duffy] said.

Hillary's Katrina Commission voted down on party lines

Hillary Clinton's version of a Katrina Commission was voted down yesterday along party lines:

Senator Clinton's bill would have created a blue-ribbon bipartisan panel modelled on the committee that probed the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.
The former first lady said after the vote: "What happened today on the Senate floor is the same thing that happened four years ago when our nation was desperately searching for answers after 9/11.
"Urgent calls for an independent commission were repeatedly ignored, but the American people did not fall silent. They continued to demand action and eventually the administration relinquished its opposition to the 9/11 Commission," the New York Democrat said... wants a Katrina Commission

Received via email:

Will you sign our petition for an independent Katrina Commission?
Senators, including many moderate Republicans, are deciding whether to support a Katrina Commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission, this week. We need a really big number of people to sign the petition to show senators and representatives how much support there is for the Katrina Commission.
President Bush will address the nation about Hurricane Katrina on Thursday. We'll start delivering the petitions to Congress starting Friday morning so senators and representatives will hear what you think the very next day. The goal is to get 250,000 petition signers quickly.
Here's why we need a Katrina Commission:
* We need to learn from Hurricane Katrina. The scale of the disaster makes it urgent that we learn from mistakes. The government can't investigate itself. That means appointing an independent group of experts to sort through the data.
* We need to find the other Michael Browns. Yesterday, FEMA director Michael Brown resigned. Brown had no experience in emergency management-his last job was as the director of the International Arabian Horses Association. And there are many other political appointees like him who could get in the way during a future emergency.
* When President Bush investigates his own government, no one is held accountable. When Bush and his allies have led investigations in the past, they've been whitewashes. The WMD Commission, led by Republicans in the Senate, concluded that no one was really to blame for the falsified intelligence about WMDs in Iraq. And the White House was entirely opposed to the 9/11 Commission until victims' families made it a politically impossible position.
The 9/11 Commission is a good model for the Katrina Commission. It was independent, bipartisan and provided all Americans with an honest and frank assessment of what happened on September 11th-they even published the results as a book. Support for the Katrina Commission is growing. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation last week that would establish the one.

IBD: Feds off the front lines

Investor's Business Daily says:

...Calls for reform of America's disaster-response system are inevitable and proper after a tragedy on the scale of Katrina. But this is no time to act in haste or to just do more of the same and expand the federal role even further. Not only might this increase a false sense of security at the state and local levels, but it also would push federal agencies into work - such as street-level law enforcement - they are simply not meant to do...

Joint House-Senate panel to investigate

Originally there were to be House hearings on the response to the hurricane, but that's been canceled:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House majority leader late Tuesday tried to deflect criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina by saying "the emergency response system was set up to work from the bottom up," then announced a short time later that House hearings examining that response had been canceled.
Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said House Republican leaders instead want a joint House-Senate panel set up to conduct a "congressional review" of the issue.
Tempers flared Tuesday during a contentious closed-door meeting between House members and Cabinet secretaries in charge of directing Katrina relief efforts. A Republican representative stood up and said, "All of you deserve failing grades. The response was a disaster," CNN was told by lawmakers emerging from the meeting.
But DeLay countered that assessment later in a news conference by saying that the onus for responding to emergencies fell to local officials.
"It's the local officials trying to handle the problem. When they can't handle the problem, they go to the state, and the state does what they can to, and if they need assistance from FEMA and the federal government they ask for it and it's delivered," DeLay said.
He added that Alabama and Mississippi did a much better job of responding quickly than Louisiana. Alabama and Mississippi have Republican governors...

Should Bush investigate what went wrong?

In a word, no. Since the blame appears to be shared among the federal government and those in the states and localities, and since it appears to touch both Republicans and Democrats, any investigation needs to be handled by a group that is above partisanship and political favor. The investigation needs to be conducted in as transparent a manner as possible and hopefully not by Washington (or Louisiana) insiders.
In fact, the article "Bush Says He'll Find Out What Went Wrong" sounds slightly like that that might appear in the Cuban press:

Buffeted by criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush said Tuesday he will oversee an investigation into what went wrong and why _ in part to be sure the country could withstand more storms or attack.
Bush also announced he is sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help determine whether the government is doing all that it can...
[Bush said:] "Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people... What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong... We still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure we can respond properly if there is a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attack or another major storm... One of the things people want us to do here is play the blame game... We got to solve problems. There will be ample time to figure out what went right and what went wrong."
...Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., had told reporters Monday that the Homeland Security Committee would convene hearings as Congress returns this week to examine the "weaknesses and strengths" of the federal response and to "apply the lessons learned."
...Bush did not respond directly when asked if anyone on his disaster response team should be replaced...

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